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12 Reasons Why It's Not Too Late To Start Loving "Bunheads"

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | February 26, 2013 | Comments ()


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Trust me, the best show you're not watching is this little ABC Family gem. Oh yeah, you heard me. Listen, I'm not full of sugar and spice and everything nice. I might be a bit of a marshmallow about shows like "Parks & Recreation" and "Parenthood" but, in general, when it comes to television, I prefer the hard-bitten worlds of "Justified," "Game Of Thrones" and "Breaking Bad" than the candy floss offerings of "Glee," "Smash" or any of the other Vaseline drenched shows ABC Family has to offer. But this little show. These surprisingly great little bunheads. They've won me over.

Last night "Bunheads" aired its first Season finale and it was a gut wrencher. It worries me to death that the show hasn't been officially renewed. So for those of who have written the show off (or have yet to give it a chance) this is my entreaty to you. Watch this damn show. It's like hugging a mountain of cookies. It's sweet and sharp and warm and gooey and lovely. And, believe it or not, it's surprisingly deep. The end of last night's episode just about snapped my heart in two. The four young actresses (who were initially cast for their ability to dance) have grown into their roles beautifully and the whole enterprise has hit it stride. The finale ended with this beautifully choreographed and deceptively chipper number that made me want to hug every young girl I know.

Not convinced? Why would you be? I'm trying desperately not to give too much plot away. I understand why you wouldn't believe me. I am, admittedly, a fan of musicals and, *gasp,* a female. But I'd describe what "Bunheads" is attempting as "Girls" by way of 30s screwball comedy. Does that sound like your nightmare? It shouldn't, it's lovely. Here are eleven reasons why you should give Amy Sherman-Palladino's confection a shot.

If You Like Dead Poet's Society: The basic plot (young, hip teacher wins the hearts and minds of mildly to severely disaffected youth) is one we've seen before. Sutton Foster's Michelle is a mixed bag of Mark Thackeray, John Keating and Coach Taylor. Sherman-Palladino can be almost as heavy-handed as Seth MacFarlane with the movie references. But she pulls it off with more style.
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If You Love Loathe The Nutcracker: This is a show about ballet. Of course they're going to do The Nutcracker. But it all went horribly wrong, providing some excellent ballet schadenfreude.

If You Love Alcohol: I have to say, I love a protagonist who can hold her liquor. Though they've dialed back the drinking a bit in the second half of the season (moving away, in general, from the adult plot lines), our girl still likes to drink. Basically, Michelle Simms: Booze as Lorelai Gilmore: Coffee.
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If You Love Coffee: Okay, yes, she's serious about her coffee too.
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If You Loved Whip It: If you have a weakness for fetching girls beating people up, you should know that one of the sweet, pink and white bunheads has joined a roller derby team.
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So far all this really means is that she's been wearing a lot of bandanas. Seriously. All the time with the bandanas.
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If You Like Musicals And, Specifically, A Chorus Line: If you like musicals, I don't know why you wouldn't already be watching this show. The lead, Sutton Foster, is a well-known, much lauded Broadway performed. (Plus she's hot. She's so hot she's making me sexist.) This week's finale also saw perhaps the nerdiest of all musical nerd cameos when XM Broadway's Seth Rudetsky showed up as an accompanist. Though Michelle ended up singing something from Sweet Charity in her audition, the plot was pure Chorus Line.
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If You Like Supporting Non-Stick Figures On Television And You Really Wished You Liked "Girls" But You Don't: I get why many people don't like Hannah Horvath or "Girls," I do. But what Lena Dunham is loudly declaring on her show, Sherman-Palladino is quietly subverting on hers. Sherman-Palladino is, of course, the woman who brought us the only Melissa McCarthy character thus far who wasn't in some form a walking fat joke. (Even in Bridesmaids, oh yes.) In the character of Boo we have a young, beautiful woman who is athletic, healthy, in a loving relationship and not a size zero. Her body insecurities are not ignored, but she's not seen as less than her fellow dancers. Quite the contrary.
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If You Love/Hate Your Family: The show was severely lacking in a strong, adult male character in the first half of the season but made up for it with the appearance of Michelle's brother played by Sutton Foster's real-life brother, Hunter. I hope he sticks around. They absolutely nailed the sibling chemistry.

If You Like Interpretive Dance: The show often ends with a song or a dance and these two, featuring the sylph-like Julia Goldani Telles, were somewhat divisive. The "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" one especially. They both worked for me and she's very Moonrise Kingdom in the first one.

If You Like "So You Think You Can Dance": Speaking of healthy looking young ladies, Jeanine Mason joined the cast in the second half of the season as the slightly antagonistic Cosette. Apparently Mason won a season of the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance?" And she can. Oh she can.

If You Like Mean Girls: No they're not Plastics, but they can be quite rough.
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If You Like "The Gilmore Girls": Sherman-Palladino (like many showrunners before her), has shown a weakness for recycling actors. Her weakness is our gain as countless beloved and familiar faces from Stars Hollow showed up in the first season. Highlights included Sean Gunn, Liza Weil and the amazing Kelly Bishop. She's not quite Emily Gilmore here, but she's close.
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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Michelle

    You win, Pajiba. I'm currently powering through the first season on Amazon (thanks, Prime membership!) and am in love.

  • lilkunta

    I disagree. The best show the world isnt watching is SWITCHED AT BIRTH. Hello I ran The Lying Game higher as well.
    I like Amy Sherman. I liked her work on Roseanne. I watched Gilmore Girls 1st few seasons then it became too much.
    Bunheads lacks diversity.

    ...also where is Alexis Bledel ?

  • Kevin

    Seriously? I am going over to Hulu right now to watch Bunheads. THIS IS WHAT YOU DO TO ME.

  • TheMissingGilmore

    inserting the classic "I've never commented before" but I had to put my 2 cents in... *

    Joanna, I quote Angela Chase – “Sometimes someone says something really small and it just fits into this empty place in your heart.”**

    I just watched the (what I hope is not series) finale last night. That final scene kind of wrecked me. This show is one of my favorites on tv right now (and Ginny is my favorite Bunhead). Aside from the fact that the dancing is always strong and innovative (see: Instanbul, Not Constantinople; the Coal Miner Dance; Evil Rat Dance) the stories are relatable, the characters have depth, and while the pop culture references can be somewhat ham-fisted (which I for one, love), there is a real subtlety to some of the more important themes of the show. In my eyes, there is little Sutton Foster can do wrong and I love how they cast young women who actually look like young women. I am a little (ok, a lottle) far removed from high school, but I imagine it must be refreshing for younger watchers of this show to see dancers coming in all shapes and sizes (except for Sascha, whom I generally adore and is kicking butt for a non-actress, but have to fight the urge to throw a cheeseburger at her every time I see her. I am concerned her obsessive Martha Stewart cooking for her friends is a latent symptom of an ED, but I am probably just reading too far between the lines, yes?).

    I really hope the show gets picked up for another season. Partially because I love the dancing and the bonus of SYTYCD vets, but mainly because I don’t like to go too long with some classic Sherman-Palladino wit. If we had to send the network broken lightbulbs to save FNL, should we start dicing up tutus for Bunheads?***

    *I now have to live with the fact that an ABC Family show was what drove me to finally comment on this site after being a Pajiba stalker for many, many moons. <sigh>
    **quoting Angela Chase = the biggest compliment I know how to give
    ***I have no idea if this show is really at risk of being canceled, I just really like overly dramatic gestures

  • theotherone

    I'd be there with you J.R, but anything associated with ABC is on the Do Not Watch List. I've been burned to many times (Better Off Ted, Pushing Daisies, DTTBIA23, CougarTown, to name a few. R.I.P).

    Side Note: I was blown away when checking IMDB that the girl who plays Boo is 20!

  • NateMan

    Is it just me or does the girl in the first GIF look like a female Mark Wahlberg?

  • yocean

    You know, I never thought I would say it but I wish they had more adult male dancers. I genuinely watching dance but this does not seem to provide anyway to enjoy viewing without feeling like a pedophile...

  • Steve

    So, in the picture of the dancers, which one is meant to be the fat one with body issues? The one on the left who happens to have hips? Really?!

  • toblerone

    Sutton Foster looks like she 13 in the header gif.

  • babykangarootribbiani

    i watched the first ten episodes, and the winter premiere, but after that, i;m sorry, quite honestly, i could not bring myself to care. my problem with the show is this: apparently someone told our beloved AS-P that the only thing people liked about gilmore girls was the fact that they talked fast and made pop culture references. and that;s all bunheads is, leaving out the story and background development and the other 75% of substance that made gilmore girls what it was. at the end of gilmore girls, i could tell you where lorelai gilmore grew up, who her parents were, the age she got pregnant, and what her favorite beverage was. at the end of the bunheads pilot, we didn;t even know michelle's damn last name. i appreciate that they added her brother, but why do we still know next to nothing about their parents? and as weird and borderline creepy it is to see second-rate gilmore girls characters around every corner, kelly bishop;s character is just sad. not only is fanny flowers so weak emily gilmore could kick her ass without raising a finger or firing a maid, that fact that she constantly calls michelle on the pop culture references makes it all the more awkward to watch.
    that being said, i am glad she still has characters like sookie on gilmore girls. it broke my heart when i was watching gilmore girls and my roommate;s friend said "oh that;s the bridesmaids lady! i didn;t know she was in this show!" (probably not the place for that, but the thread for that rant is closed).

  • Sara_Tonin00

    so it's Family Guy with dancing?

  • Resi

    The best thing about Bunheads is that each of the young actresses/dancers who are in it are better actors than Ms Bledel. She did work in Gilmore Girls, however, as she left that comfort zone and made other things I discovered how bad an actress she is. Mad men, anyone? I love Bunheads!

  • dizzylucy

    I want to love this because I loved Gilmore Girls so much and the dancing is great, but it's not quite there for me yet. Haven't seen the finale yet, but I will say that the second half of the season has been much improved, and I like the mentor relationship that Michelle and Sasha are developing. I do think they sort of resemble Lorelai and Rory though, kind of weird with all the other Gilmore stuff in there right down to the music. Liza Weil has been a GREAT addition though, love her scenes.

  • ViciousTrollop

    This show is fantastic. It's almost like going back to Stars Hollow. I miss that place.

    Kirk/Bash needs to be a regular!

  • Nat Kittyface

    I actually HATE Gilmore Girls. HATE. A LOT. With a BURNING PASSION.

    But I really like Bunheads. I started watching it with the intent to mock, and ended up actually watching it.

    You win this one, Sherman-Palladino.

  • I'm not a GG fan, either. Sutton Foster just makes Sherman-Palladino's words work in a way that Rory and Lorelai never could for me.

  • Nat Kittyface

    I think it's the wry delivery that she does so well. She doesn't seem to take her lines too seriously, so it's easier to just kick back and laugh with her. At least for me.

  • I absolutely loved this last half of the season. I mean, I've liked the show from the start, but I feel like it's really hit its stride now. The "Smile and A Ribbon" montage of the girls is easily one of the best things the show has ever done. I had to pause after Boo's reaction to "Our Bodies, Our Selves" because I was laughing so hard. I really wish more people would tune in!

  • Akimbo

    In addition to non-stick figureS (as in more than one), I also like seeing diverse casting so: meh. Also, it was one thing for a mother and daughter to share a similar rapid-fire style of conversation, but for a random woman from Vegas to show up in a small town and engage with everyone in the exact same manner is tedious. I tried, I really tried. They lost me with "O Captain, my Captain." Sutton's character didn't get fired for some profound or meaningful reason, but because she was a screwup. She maced a bunch of kids, sent them to the hospital, and then they're standing up for her like she took a bullet. Lol, no. Very talented cast but there are no stakes, the barest wisps of a plot, and a completely worn-out style in this show. Maybe I'll check in on Amy's next project.

  • lowercase_ryan

    This sounds like a "bond with mom" type of show. I'll give it a shot.

  • Most of ABC Family's programming is on the Awful to Guilty Pleasure scale, but Bunheads has officially reached the level of love I had for 10 Things I Hate About You, the TV series.

  • John W

    The show is good. If you liked Gilmore Girls watch it because it's made from the same ingredients but it's different enough that it's not just a carbon copy of GG.

  • So, so good. I think last night's finale was the strongest so far. Talk about tugging heartstrings - in so many ways. Of course, it could just be the part of me that is is missing my weekly sobs over Parenthood... No, it really was excellent.

  • rio

    Oh this makes me so happy!!! Im so worried it wont get picked up and I'll be left with that ending. It was so well done, realistic and heart breaking. I watched it because of Amy Sherman Palladino, and decided to stick with it even if the first part of the season was kinda bland and undeveloped but the second part was so great! For the love of God, abc family has kept on "the life of an american teenager" forever and that show makes "7th heaven" look like a Tarkovsky movie, they better renew bunheads, DO NOT FUCK WITH BALLERINAS.

  • PaddyDog

    I'm trying so hard to love this show. It has almost everything I usually love in a show, but I feel it just doesn't quite hit the right note. I love the four girls. Sutton Foster is much better in this half than last half (I think she took some classes in acting for TV versus acting for the stage),but something is missing.

  • Rebecca

    Season finale?! Oh no! It just barely came back on, too. Card carrying Gilmore Girls fan here, and I'm loving the similar elements of the two shows, not to mention Kelly Bishop and Liza Weil (I always wanted to know what Paris would be like as an adult, so this alternate reality version of her is great). The acting from the girls is still wobbly at times, but definitely improving. Last night's ending was truly affecting, and Sutton Foster is always wonderful. I am looking forward to seeing all of the characters fleshed out as well as she is.

  • Rocabarra

    I believe you, on each and every one of these points. And I wish that I could watch this show, but I can never, ever forgive it for misleading me so, so cruelly with the pilot. I tuned in to see Alan Ruck, and the premise was beautifully crafted that maybe, if we kept watching, we could watch these two strangers/spouses actually fall in love. That is the premise I wanted to follow, and I knew I would learn to love the side plot of the dancers, and it would all fall together so elegantly and charmingly that I would never look back.

    And then they killed him.

    I felt so betrayed, and still do, that I can't bring myself to tune in again. You can't kill Cameron Frye and not suffer the consequences.

  • thunderhead

    FUCK.

    YOU.

    The tard is overwhelmingly strong with this one.

    That is the single most fucktard idiotic brain sprained reason I have ever heard for not watching a tv show.

    It was beyond clear from watching even a second of any of the previews that this so called 'side plot' as you tardingly refer to it was in fact going to be the main focus of the show.

    For fucks sake, the show is called Bunheads.

    How can you possibly be such a complete and utter fucktard as to stand there drooling in front of the tv shitting your pants and feeling the fresh steaming stinky shit run down the insides of your thighs and form a puddle around your feet and say to yourself, "HERP DERP THIS SHOW IS GOING TO BE ALL ABOUT ALAN RUCK BECAUSE I DECREE IT TO BE SO AND BECAUSE I LOVE ALAN RUCK SO MUCH I LOVE HIM AND PET HIM AND CALL HIM GEORGE."

    Y'know what?

    I'm glad you don't watch the show.

    And I 'm glad you felt horribly betrayed.

    i hope you cried and weeped and beat your breast and moaned and wailed FOR DAYS AND DAYS AND DAYS.

    You don't deserve to watch this show.

  • BlackRabbit

    Tried decaf?

  • jannymac

    This is probably the most frightening thing I've ever read on this site. And that's saying alot.

  • foolsage

    I really liked that plot, to be honest; the show surprised me and impressed me with Hubbell. Alan Ruck was marvelous of course, and that makes the short time we got to spend with Hubbell so much more bittersweet. Anyhow, that's kind of the point; this amazing man shows up, pulls Michelle out of the life she knows, offers her a wonderful life, then dies. Now she's been uprooted and has to decide who she wants to be and what she wants to do. It's a nice premise.

    The show's been a bit inconsistent, but overall it's been great. I definitely hope it gets renewed.

  • To each their own, but killing off Ruck is what sold me on the show. I was kind of in, but to take such a chance so early was a risk I thought deserved my attention. I'm glad I stuck with it.

  • Jannymac

    I felt EXACTLY the same way...after they killed off her husband and then everyone ran around not being particularly depressed about it (including his MOTHER), I just lost interest.

  • JoannaRobinson

    I hear you guys, I do. The first few episodes were rather rough. But trust me when I say a) the kids have gotten better and b) the show has found its tight-clad legs, tonally speaking.

    I, for one, think Michelle's journey is a bit more interesting on her own.

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    I agree. I felt the same way the others did above, but kept watching 'cause it filled a void Gilmore Girls left. It really does pay off, the girls really grow and Michelle starts to differentiate herself from a Lorelai Clone pretty quickly.

  • Opti

    I think you're suffering from what I call Cougar Town Syndrome. It's when you say the name of a show enough times that the title stops sounding dumb.
    Bun. Heads.
    Bunheads.

  • Enrique del Castillo

    I love this show; I always liked Gilmore Girls and this is giving me exactly what I loved in it along with a few interesting and different ideas. Sutton Foster is the best thing ever and the rest of the girls are lovely and entertaining (specially Boo and Mel). Kelly Bishop is great and the few Alan Ruck cameos have been good. I kind of wish there was a Luke in this show, but I love it a lot just the way it is.

  • Trust me, the best show you’re not watching is this little ABC Family gem.

    Oh God. I don't need more ABC Family in my life. I'm angsting over Pretty Little Liars and now there's apparently another gem to watch.

  • MissAmynae

    Going on my OnDemand, so the Powers That Be will get notification, and the show will get credit. :-)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    See. I caught the episode with the roller derby and ponytail pull, and it made me not want to watch any more...but I like the embedded dance clips. And Hunter & Sutton are both fantastic people & performers.

  • Three_nineteen

    Yeah, seeing it that way, out of context, I could see how it would be off-putting. It was actually character development. I know how that sounds, but it was.

  • Tinkerville

    "Jeanine Mason joined the cast in the second half of the season..."

    What? What?! Jeanine was one of my all time favorite SYTYCD contestants and I recently got sucked through a rabbit hole of re-watching all of her routines on youtube. Mission accomplished, JoRo. I'll check it out for her.

  • Kent Boyd is a recurring dancer, too! With lines and everything. He's fantastic.

  • I thought she looked familiar, but because I'm lazy, I didn't google to figure out who Cosette was played by. This makes me miss the old days of SYTYCD.

  • Scully

    I was looking for something to stream last night (specifically House MD but the Powers That Be are withholding those baby blues from me) and I saw this on Amazon Prime. It's going on my watch list immediately. You give good recommendations, JoRo. Trust.

  • KatSings

    I love this show. So much. I hope it gets picked up. I haven't watched Monday's finale yet, so thank you for not spoiling it!! :-)

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