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!


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 a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Nothing can or ever will replace Gilmore Girls in my heart!!! I liked the pilot and will definitely check it out again, but I will never love a show like I did GG! :(( I miss it so much!


As an avid GG fan, I was not all that impressed with Bunheads. It felt like Sutton Foster's character was trying too hard to sound like Lorelai Gilmore. And why are there no black/Latina/Asian ballet dancers in the main group of four -- the lack of diverity is really alarming.


Wry, witty, relevant, poignant, smart, engrossing, fast moving, and with character honing (especially Fanny's who is coming from the outside IN) this show should be a long staple. Ms Foster is a chameleon who really delivers the complexity of her troubled character. I just hope they use the poor dead guy as a ghost of some sort. He really was a sweetheart character.


I really enjoyed Bunheads and will continue to watch it. I'm over 55 and found that it had something for everyone (love Fanny). What a breath of fresh air! Delightful!


I never saw Gilmore Girls. Actually I watch very little television other than old movies but when I read an article about "Bunheads" and learned that it was starring Sutton Foster I had to watch. I saw her in "Anything Goes" on Broadway and was knocked over by her talent. I believe this is a real winner - fast, sharp, funny repartee, interesting characters, and I’m sure we will get to see Sutton strut her stuff. That alone will make watching the show well worth it. She is also a wonderful comedic actress. Good luck Sutton and cast. Break a leg, or two, or three.


I absolutely loved this show. My daughter was in from out of state, and we started to flip the channel after Secret Life, but it caught our attention from the get-go. We were actually laughing out loud during parts of the show. I am also a little disappointed that they killed off the husband, as I thought the chemistry between these two characters made the show. I will continue to watch to see if they can top the premiere last night.


show will repeat tonight.
As a mom of a dancer, would be nice to see a couple of the dancer moms in the mix. Should make for some great comedy.
Love the story line about the girl with the imperfect body, but yearns to dance. I think alot of young dancer students can relate to that. Good show, but what's with the Joffrey Ballet auditioning for a summer program scholorship? Been there, done that on "Dance Moms".


I, too was surprised at how much I enjoyed it (especially since my Mom called and said how stupid it was). I plan to keep watching! I'm pretty sure Hubble is dead. With him out of the way, the story is all about Michelle, Fanny and the students.Sorry to see him go, though!


Gilmore Girls still remains to be my #1 favorite show and of course, I had to check out Bunheads. The writing is as great as it was in Gilmore Girls and I love that about it! Yes, there are definitely similarities between the two. Michelle easily reminds me of Lorelai and at times I caught myself thinking the character of Fanny was Emily. But I really appreciate those similarities. I feel like we're in Ms. Patty's world in Stars Hollow or something. I'm just really appreciating its similarities with Gilmore but still having its own identity. And I was definitely hooked at the end when you realize that the relationship that's going to be explored here is really that between Michelle and Fanny.


Surprisingly enjoyable show. Somehow kept things family oriented while still addressing adult themes of sex, marriage, jealousy, settling for something less and more. Had moments of real joy, laughter and poignancy. It is not meant to be "realistic" along every line story, but it none-the-less seems very real. Well written and amazingly well cast - especially among the younger folks who avoid the typical Disney trope that saying something louder equates to funnier.

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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!


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