Bunheads

Mondays 9:00 PM on ABC Family
Bunheads
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Bunheads Review: From Vegas to Paradise

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Let’s just get this right out in the open. I had absolutely no intention of watching the Pilot of Bunheads, let alone enjoying it. If I hadn’t been called in at the last minute for a review, I would be in the dark about this incredibly witty and touching new show on ABC Family. 

I don’t know what I was expecting, but given the pedigree of Amy Sherman-Palladino and star Kelly Bishop it would seem that I would want to watch this show. I think it was the part about ballerinas that did me in. Never in my life did I picture myself as a ballerina. If the show was about klutzes, I would have felt more comfortable. 

Bunheads Premiere Pic

Within five minutes Bunheads had me. The dialog was perfect. If all goes well, it will be a go-to show for Bunheads quotes that make you smile. Michelle whips out those lines much like Lorelei Gilmore did in Gilmore Girls, and makes me wish Ms. Sherman-Palladino was walking behind me, whispering witty repartee into my ear so I could sound as cool as she writes. 

The protagonist, Michelle, having worked her way through the various mediums of dance finally gave into a man, Hubbell, who promised her the world. The small-town world of Paradise, California. After years of unsuccessfully wooing her, he caught her at her lowest point, and in a drunken moment of either despair or optimism, she married him and fled Las Vegas for a new life. 

Only when they arrived did we understand his love of her, as his mother, Fanny, was a dancer. He obviously saw in Michelle something he had once seen in his mother. Although they went through the obvious jealousy and somewhat clueless disgust for each other, by the end of the episode there was a mutual understanding between Fanny and Michelle. They both had been given the gifts and tools to be successful dancers, but life got in the way. For Fanny it was pregnancy, for Michelle a lack of focus. They found common ground.

It was a nice change that Michelle didn’t pretend to love Hubbell, but wished so much that she could be the type of woman who could. She’s cynical and a realist, and yet deep inside she had the dream every girl has, that maybe someone might understand her after all. Hubbell’s speech to her on the night of their wedding party was so romantic. He tells her she wants to laugh, and travel and be surprised and challenged while living an unexpected life. What woman wouldn’t want to hear that? It worked; her heart melted just a little.

We were introduced to four of the bunheads themselves; two standouts. Sasha, with all the talent and the perfect body for ballet but none of the attitude, and Bettina, aka Boo, who has all the attitude and wants it more than anything but has a hulky build and the fear that it will keep her from her goal. Their differences became apparent when Michelle gave them an impromptu introduction to the audition process. It was so fun to watch, and Fanny agreed. That’s where you saw her heart melt a little for Michelle.

Picture Lorelei Gilmore as a dancer and that she and Emily would actually be seen doing shots at a bar and dancing together to Jim Croce. Yep, Emily Gilmore has come a long way. We’ll find out just how far she’s come next week when we discover what happened to Hubbell, but I don’t have a good feeling.

A couple things will be needed to complete the full ABC Family experience for Bunheads. First up, cute boys. With all these young dancers running around, some hot young boys can't be far behind, right? As exciting as it will be to watch them compete for positions in recitals and for scholarships, it's not ABC Family if there isn't some competition by the girls for the male variety. Michelle is also going to need a best friend. Crazy as she was in the premiere, could Truly get over her loss of Hubbell, get her head out of her arse and recognize the wonder that is Michelle? The casting of Stacy Oristano from Friday Night Lights leads me to believe in the possibility. 

The chemistry between Tony-winning actress Sutton Foster as Michelle and Kelly Bishop as Fanny sizzles. For those of us who have missed GG, we may have a good step-child in Bunheads. What did you think? Are you willing to give it a chance and see where it goes? From an absolute “I won’t watch” to finding permanent place on my schedule, you can be sure I’ll be there!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (230 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I really, truly, sincerely wanted to love this show. I mean, with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Kelly Bishop what could possibly go wrong? (And before anyone jumps me, I had no idea who Sutton Foster was before this show despite my love for theater and musicals.) The premise is alright (though a bit unbelievable that Hubble was not a serial killer or something else) and the Paradise bunhead girls are charming, earnest and possibly the most interesting things about this show so far. It was only 20 minutes in when I figured out what was off - Ms. Sutton Foster. I'm sure she's amazing on stage, but acting for TV is a completely different beast. I find that she over emphasizes, both delivery and actions, as if she's trying to reach all those poor college students in the nosebleed section of the theater. I mean what good is amazing dialogue and witty zingers if it sounds contrived or forced? Finally, I think one of the key successes in Gilmore Girls is that Lorelei always had a partner-in-crime to balance her out, Rory, Sookie and Luke. That's another important ingredient missing here, balance. I am not as excited about the second episode tonight, but I have hope that the cliffhanger at the end of episode one is the catalyst the show needs to anchor the forced wackiness (read: Stars Hollow 2.0) onto something real.

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I really, truly, sincerely wanted to love this show. I mean, with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Kelly Bishop what could possibly go wrong? (And before anyone jumps me, I had no idea who Sutton Foster was before this show despite my love for theater and musicals.) The premise is alright (though a bit unbelievable that Hubble was not a serial killer or something else) and the Paradise bunhead girls are charming, earnest and possibly the most interesting things about this show so far. It was only 20 minutes in when I figured out what was off - Ms. Sutton Foster. I'm sure she's amazing on stage, but acting for TV is a completely different beast. I find that she over emphasizes, both delivery and actions, as if she's trying to reach all those poor college students in the nosebleed section of the theater. I mean what good is amazing dialogue and witty zingers if it sounds contrived or forced? Finally, I think one of the key successes in Gilmore Girls is that Lorelei always had a partner-in-crime to balance her out, Rory, Sookie and Luke. That's another important ingredient missing here, balance. I am not as excited about the second episode tonight, but I have hope that the cliffhanger at the end of episode one is the catalyst the show needs to anchor the forced wackiness (read: Stars Hollow 2.0) onto something real.

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Just finished the pilot of Bunheads (thank you, Hulu) and seriously frustrated so far...dancing on a wooden floor is not safe. Aside from that, the ballet isn't the annoying part (as a dancer myself, it's important to me that dance shows be accurate)--it's how similar Michelle is to Lorelai, except she's like her less beautiful sister, and Amy Palladino didn't change her writing at all so Michelle sounds exactly like Lorelai even though she isn't. And the mother in law is Kelly Bishop (Emily), and of course she sounds the same as well--and there you have the return of the awkward mother-daughter relationship. Even Hubble sounds like Chris, both in his voice and his speech patterns (again, writing didn't change...), and then there's the music that goes with the show--it sounds like the next track on the cd that the Gilmore Girls theme came from (because both soundtracks really were written by the same person). Grrr. I absolutely loved Gilmore Girls...but you can't duplicate it so don't try! I had really hoped Bunheads would be a fun show but that it would stand out from GG and make a name for itself by its own merit. I will try to give it another shot with the next episode, but this doesn't look promising.

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I never viewed one minute of GG- it was for a younger crowd. BUT this show has Sutton Foster and I would (and have) watch her in anything. And it turns out this show is great ! The writing is funny and literate and Kelly Bishop (always great on stage) is very good. And Ms Foster is fantastic ,as usual. If she has to leave the stage for awhile, at least she's in something that appears to be very good. I hope this show is a hit - but don't keep Sutton off the stage too long.

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I watched this with my 13-year old last night and loved it! She is a dancer so that was the obvious draw for us, but the entire storyline was refreshing and new for us since we did not watch GG. I'm hoping it comes to stand on its own and continues to entertain like in the pilot episode. Can't wait to see more :)

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Although I loved the first episode of this show, the fact that it is so reminiscent of Gilmore Girls may not be such a good thing. From the very beginning, you could tell this was of similar stock: the main character, the cooky town and people, even the matriarch mother - although Bishop is crazy here, she still a somewhat controlling personality just like in GG. And although I loved it, I don't want another one! Let's hope this is sufficiently different.

Modwild

Fear not, Ceceliz, as I am not the reviewer, but merely reviewed the pilot. A pilot which I, admittedly, had no intention of watching. It was that admission that brought on the GG comparisons because the thought of watching anything even remotely resembling a "bunhead" was not something that interested me. Amy Sherman-Palladino, however, has a style and a design to her writing that draws you in, no matter your interests. If that meant that I made comparisons to Gilmore Girls for the pilot review and perhaps engaged viewers for later showings, I will not apologize.

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I thought the pilot of Bunheads was so good. I actually watched it a couple of weeks ago on line at ABC Family, then watched it with my daughter, and last night again with my husband (who surprisingly said he'd watch it again. Each time I came away with something new. Loved that some of GG characters were there. Drea, the harp player as the hooker, and Gypsy the auto mechanic, Truly's friend/coworker. Also loved the terrible cut off shorts Michelle wore, just like the ones Loreli wore to Rory's first day at Chilton. Oh, I so missed ASP's unique writing style. I am so happy this show got picked up. The advertisements do NOT do it justice.

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While I loved Gilmore Girls, I hope that every review for Bunheads going forward does not contain belabored comparisons to Gilmore Girls. Different show, folks, time to move on.

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As a GG fan much was expected of Amy and she delivered. Sutton Foster was impressive and beautiful and those legs wow. I never much liked Kelly Bishop's GG mom as a character, the cold moms aint my cup of tea but am looking forward to a character of hers that I can connect more to. Seeing these young girls reminds me of when my daughter was their age. Seeing all that vulnerability and energy and sweetness in Boo brought back some pleasant memories. I must say I had my doubts about this new marriage and it makes some sense to me that they are probably knocking off the lead guy right off the bat. He makes more sense as a plot device to land Michelle in a place she can give her life direction, maybe find meaning in something and still be funny adorable and dance like crazy.

Bunheads Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

You pay per boob? If anything in the world should be sold as a pair it should be boobs!

Talia

Sure, we dance our asses off for two hours, they walk out for five minutes, flash their boobs and bring the house down.

Michelle