Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Warning: mild plot spoilers for the premiere of Bunheads are below!

It seems that shows featuring dance are somewhat of a trend right now. You've got Glee, Smash, Breaking Pointe, and now Bunheads, from the creator of Gilmore Girls, Amy Sherman-Palladino.

From ABC Family:
Bunheads is the tale of a Las Vegas showgirl, who impulsively marries a man, moves to his sleepy coastal town, and takes an uneasy role at her new mother-in-law's dance school.

From Executive Producer Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, the series is headlined by Tony Award®-winning actor Sutton Foster and features Kelly Bishop. 
Well, that was....concise. And it's true that the concept of the show is pretty simple, but there's some good character stuff going on that drives the action. We'll get more into that later.

It's probably enough for most of you for me to tell you that if you liked Gilmore Girls, you will really like Bunheads. You've got the same whipsmart and quick dialogue, a small town filled with quirky characters, and a mother who is tough as nails and used to being in charge. Oh, and the mother character is also played by Kelly Bishop. 


One of these ladies is not the like the others....

But that's pretty much where the similarities end. I read a really great interview with Amy Sherman-Palladino where she described the differences between Michelle Simms (the main character of Bunheads) and Lorelai Gilmore.  If I may paraphrase, whereas Lorelai was always very grounded with her family and plans for the future, Michelle is adrift and more than a little lost. Every choice she makes is very reactive, responding to things rather than anticipating them. The entire impetus for the series (Michelle's impulsive marriage and moving to the town of Paradise) is all because she feels that there are no more options for her. It's more running away than running toward something.

The show is also darker in tone than Gilmore Girls. Sure, Michelle is a wise-cracker, but her quips feel more like armor and a way to hide her real vulnerability. Kelly Bishops' character, Fanny, the teacher at a local ballet school, is also just different enough from her Girlmore character to not feel derivative. And of course, you have the girls who are enrolled in the ballet school who will surely have their own delightful subplots and provide a good excuse for some good old-fashioned ballet.

And maybe some good old-fashioned showgirl moves too.

In short, Bunheads is off to a good start and I'll definitely be tuning in. Things took a  depressing turn at the end of the premiere, but I am confident that in a couple episodes the show will have settled into its normal rhythm and will fulfill its promise.

Bunheads airs on ABC Family Mondays at 9pm, and if you missed the premiere it's available on ABC Family's website and is getting rerun pretty much every night.

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