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.
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.
If You Love Coffee: Okay, yes, she’s serious about her coffee too.
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.
So far all this really means is that she’s been wearing a lot of bandanas. Seriously. All the time with the bandanas.
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.
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.
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.
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.