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+.


I LOVE Gilmore Girls - came late to the show through repeats and bought all the dvd's - and will love this show.
Good writing, acting and style. Finally.


Wow! That is my main comment about "bunheads" as when I heard it was GG's magician ms Palladino...couldn't wait. I think it is super, yes, I have been totally lacking Gilmore caffeine rapid dialog,and to see Kelly Bishop during the first five minutes told me this is a door to open with crossed fingers. SPOILER ALERT:
But, like "Fran" I too think Alan Ruck is a great male lead and bummed if his future is limited. Realize without him "fanny" and "michelle" will have to bond but he could give a good male spin on this ballet journey. All in all, I still want to watch despite "Hubbell" (honor the character Redford played in "the way we were"?) --here or there...Palladino is back...Gilmore or Flowers, the name may be different, but the talent remains the same!!!!


Get a real dancer or at least an actress that has the body of a dancer.


I am somewhere up in the air about the show. Not that it is not enjoyable - because it is. And it is not that it does not have potential - because it has. I am somewhere undecided on the question: Is it possibly too much like Gilmore Girls?
The question is actually based on another one: Do I just see so much Gilmore Girls in this show because I knew beforehand that it is Amy Sherman-Palladinos new "child" or are there just really so many similarities that the comparison was unavoidable? Now, I loved Gilmore Girls and I truly miss it - so similarity is not a bad thing per se. The tempo and witty reparte are Lorelai-esque and even the relationship between Michelle and Fanny are in some instances so very much like Lorelai and Emily. Kelly Bishop is awesome (pretty much in every character you throw at her). And seeing Alex Borstein was yet another reason to be sentimental about Gilmore Girls. Maybe the show just makes me realize once again, how much I miss GG. Who knows? Anyways, you can be sure I am going to watch the next episodes aswell.


The pilot is on Itunes for free now.


I loved it right up until the last two minutes. -------- SPOILER ALERT -------- Is Hubble really dead??? Why would they kill off the adorable, nutty husband who can actually stand up to his mother??? I was already in love with him and SO looking forward to her letting him win her over. I'm sure it will still be a lovely show and they've got a bigger picture in mind, but I think they missed out on something by getting rid of a truly original male character in the first episode.


I'm so mad i wanted to watch this show and I forgot that it was coming on tonight! Does anyone know if the pilot is gonna repeat??


I like it Carissa, I'm gonna use it too!


I loved it! Love the trademark Palladino language, and the cross-generational appeal for the ABC Family audience. I love your idea of Truly as her best friend eventually, because Stacey Oristano was amazing on FNL and I thought she was the funniest part of the pilot.


As a Gilmore Girls fan I was thinking that nothing could fill the void that show has left in me, but I was very happily surprised with this pilot. My mother and I are very picky in the shows we watch, but this was a breath of fresh air, especially after watching The Secret Life Of The American Teenager. I'm going to give this show a well deserved chance.

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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.