To be honest, I wanted to like it more than I actually did. But I will be tuning in next week, so it must have done something right.
For those who know Gilmore Girls, the attractions are executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino (and by now you’ve probably seen numerous reviews saying it’s distinctively hers), Emily Bishop – in what some might call a similar role – and, someone I didn’t know about till I watched it, Rose Abdoo (Gypsy.)
For those who don’t – and I promise I’m done with the comparisons (anyone else spot the Jeep that looked nothing like Lorelai’s?) – it’s for you if you like quirky small town settings (there isn’t even a movie theatre!) and you don’t mind a couple of older main characters alongside your teenagers.
I didn’t figure out the meaning of the title until the last minute… partly because I hadn’t really thought about it, mostly because I’m not up on my dancer slang.
“Bunhead” is, apparently, a slang term for a ballet dancer. (annoyingly obvious once you know, isn’t it?) So, if you haven’t watched it yet and and you don’t care for ballet… you might want to leave now.
The main character, Michelle (Sutton Foster) isn’t a ballet dancer herself – anymore. Yet. – but the girls are and mother-in-law Fanny (Bishop) is their teacher. Fairly safe bet Michelle ends up helping with the teaching though, if nothing else the pilot did set up the fact that there isn’t much else for her to do.
The story (so far)
The pilot begins by introducing us to Michelle, a background Vegas dancer who realizes her life is at a dead end – a fact finally brought home when she’s turned down for an audition at a glance, presumably for being too old.
Desperate, she finally gives in to the attentions of her
stalker admirer Hubbell (Alan Ruck) … and to cut a short story shorter, she ends up marrying him and moving to Stars Hollow “Paradise” with him.
Far too fast? Not much to sympathise with? What about the fact that in the course of their whirlwind (is there anything faster?) romance, he forgot to mention that he lives with his mother… and not only that, but her dance studio is right behind the house. Still no? Try sticking with it till the end of the episode, maybe the last few seconds will help.
The titular bunheads are Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins), Sasha (Julia Goldani Telles), Melanie (Emma Dumont) and Ginny (Bailey Buntain).
These girls range from having talent but no ambition to ambition but convinced that they won’t make it, whether it’s due to too-big boobs or just a too-big body build. What they do all have in common is admiring Michelle’s experience, and learning how to make their own excitement in a small town where it’s a great night when someone leaves the library unlocked (subtle jab at promoting reading?)
The townspeople are introduced both at and because of the wedding party Fanny insists on throwing; a hysterical woman at the dress shop is Hubbell’s ex (Stacey Orisano), and Michelle meets the teenagers when she ducks out of the party after being rather badly received by everyone else.
We learn more about Michelle and Fanny during their heart to heart later in the evening, which culminates in them growing closer via – what else – a dance-off; Michelle, a young woman who made a wrong move and suddenly found herself stuck in Vegas; Fanny an older woman teaching rather than having followed her dreams.
We don’t learn all that much about Hubbell aside from his fascination with Michelle, who he’s been unsuccessfully trying to court for a while now. He manages to catch her at a particularly low point – low enough to finally get his date – and his talk of her being beautiful and his wanting to look after her is what prompts her to take her chance to get away from her life.
Despite the comparisons by myself and others, this isn’t Gilmore Girls.
Only that it’s set in a small town and it’s women-centric, anyway. There are similarities in the style of dialogue that could be a deal breaker if fast talking and quips isn’t your thing.
I can acknowledge that I don’t watch that many shows (compared to how many are out there), but what makes it different to what I do know:
It’s a show with teenagers, but these are not self-sufficient teenagers who act like adults, or ones with little to no adult supervision – there are four teenagers and two women in a student/teacher relationship. A good student/teacher relationship.
It’s set in a small town rather than a big city (or a small part of a big city.)
It’s about ballet dancers; ballet tends to be a topic within larger shows, rather than the focus of a scripted show.
So, will anyone be joining me for the ride? If you’re in the US, it’s on ABC Family on Mondays.