We're moving Forums to the Community pages. Click here for more information and updates.

Bunheads: Bumps in the Private Road

Bunheads S01E03: "Inherit the Wind"

A show like Bunheads is bound to have some growing pains: From the get-go, the basic conceit seemed flimsy, at best, not to mention difficult to sustain. But I was so charmed by the writing and the cast of this series, I kind of pushed any shortcomings out of my head. Amy Sherman-Palladino would find a way to make this work, and I could deal with the bumps in the road when I came to them.

Those bumps came sooner than I thought, in an episode that felt a little forced. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still smitten with Bunheads—but I’m a bit more nervous about the series going forward. There’s plenty to love about the show, and we’re only three episodes in, so I’m far from checking out. I’m just wondering if anyone else felt slightly less enthused by “Inherit the Wind.”

The episode wasn't bad, but it did raise a few flags. For instance, I love how insufferable Fanny is. It’s rare for a character to be that stubborn, that impossible to reason with, and not have the audience want to throttle her. But that’s one of Kelly Bishop’s gifts—no matter how frustrating Fanny is, we still kind of like her. The scenes between Bishop and Sutton Foster are great because the two play off each other perfectly, whether they’re fighting or dancing or sharing a rare calm moment. I’d watch an entire show devoted to just that.

But alas, a series is more than just one-on-ones between its two main characters; it has to be. And I do appreciate the way Bunheads continues to build on itself. Last week, the town of Paradise expanded, as we got to know a few more supporting oddballs. This week, we learned that Michelle’s inheritance is a whole seven acres of land—a daunting prospect for anyone, let alone a person who has never owned anything in her life. Did she really not know what a septic tank was?

Growth is a natural and essential process for any new series, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. And indeed, while there was plenty to latch onto in "Inherit the Wind," there were some bits that didn’t work for me. They didn’t ruin the whole hour, but they’re central enough to the show that I’m feeling some concern over where the series is headed next.

Here’s the thing: Bunheads is a fish-out-of-water story about a Las Vegas showgirl who ends up teaching ballet in a small town. But it’s also a story about the young ballet dancers she teaches. This is an ABC Family series, which means a focus on the girls is inevitable—even though, as I said after the pilot, they’re not the most compelling characters. I have nothing against them, and Boo in particular has potential, but they’re nowhere near as well-drawn as Michelle or Fanny. I don’t miss any of them when they’re not on screen.

“Inherit the Wind” gave us even more of the four girls, and some stories worked better than others. Boo’s crush on Melanie’s brother Charlie is cute enough. And again, Boo is the most interesting so far, so I’m more enthusiastic about her than I am about the others. I also enjoyed the girls participating in a contest to see which dancers have the grossest feet; as tangential as this was to the episode, it was just the right amount of kooky. Sherman-Palladino does weirdness well.

What didn’t work for me was Sasha’s estrangement from her friends and her troubled home life. I don’t know Sasha well enough yet to really care about her, and nothing about the story makes me want to get to know her further. It’s just so trite: problems at home make her lash out at her friends, her mom is too busy for her and her dad is always out, she puts all her focus into dancing. I recognize these tropes, all of which I kind of expect from a show like Bunheads, but it’s a lot to deal with so soon.

I guess what I’m saying is, I need to get to know these characters before I can invest in them. As it stands, the girls mostly just remind me that I’m missing out on scenes with Michelle and Fanny. Add to that the sort of obvious tween-drama subject matter, and I’m left wondering just how much of Bunheads they're going to be.

At the same time, the Sasha stuff put a damper on the entire second half of the episode—switching between the kids and the adults suddenly felt clunkier. This isn’t unsolvable: Bunheads just needs to find a way to blend its storylines better, or to make them both so interesting that we hardly notice the back-and-forth. Otherwise, it starts to feel a little all over the place, and even Sutton Foster’s charm can be spread too thin.


QUESTIONS:

1. How can Bunheads find the right balance between the adults and the kids?

2. Mysterious rich-guy Grant: possible love interest for Fanny, or am I too concerned with pairing characters off?

3. Did you feel sympathy for Sasha, or were you also a little bored by her storyline?

Comments (26)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I don't like Sasha. She seems mean and cold. She's a great dancer - and I don't blame the actress. This is just how the character is written, so its not her fault.



I'm finding it difficult to warm up to Michelle, as well...anyone else feel this way? Lorelie was just easier to like (sorry for the Gilmore comparison - can't help it)! Michelle also seems sort of cold. And what are her goals and interests in life? Okay, so she was a dancer - but that's like a one-trick-pony. Does she have any long term goals? It doesn't seem like it. She doesn't seem to have a single interest or hobby, either. At least Truly is creative - I like that. Now there is an interesting character.



Boo is an interesting character as well....easier to "warm up to" as most of the characters are too flip and abrasive to really care about. Fanny? She's funny, sure...but it's not like you actually LIKE the character! I want to like the main character, at least....and I don't care for the way Michelle,Sasha, and even Fanny feel the need to "seduce" men in order to get them to "do things for them." Is this the message you want your teenage girls to get? Honestly! Did Lorelie and Rory EVER need to stoop to THAT?
More+
Reply
Flag
Staff
1. AS-P needs to look back to Ed to find how to write high school kids with sharpness, particularly those living in a small town. Warren Cheswick is a great example of a character that's nervous, articulate, but still resembled someone in high school. Part of that was performance but a lot of it was striking the balance between adolescent anxieties and pitch of sentimentality. The adults on Bunheads are perfect. Tweaking the kids so they're sharp while maintaining their juvenile sensibility is important.

2. Why not a love interest for Michelle?

3. I like that Boo is part of a good home and her foundation is strong in the face of the misery of being a teenage girl, particularly one that is the "pitiable" friend of a group. I dislike how cliche Sasha's storyline is. Workaholic/cheating dad with an emotionally-distant mother? Come on, son.



ALSO: Why couldn't Michelle just put the car in neutral and push it three feet out into the street? I DON'T UNDERSTAND.
Reply
Flag
3. I don't understand why Sasha isn't funny. She's basically the only one not to be. Even Rory in Gilmore Girls had her moments. Clearly, it would save her, otherwise she will just be the pathetic bully drinking beer at 16 and feeling miserable about herself.

2. It would be cool if Grant wasn't the expected perfect guy for a romance, and if, like Lorelei Gilmore, Michelle had to choose between more and more options. I like the 'I'm so popular' aspect of Lorelei.

1. Hopefully Michelle and Fanny are kids enough to create the balance, especially if they get more confronted to the teens. But more importantly : when will we actually see some solid dance class action ? Isn't that what the show is about ?
Reply
Flag
i hope michelle doesn't get a love interest yet. it's just too soon. she may not have been in love, but her husband did just died.



i don't care for sasha either. she's mean. all girls suffer in adolescence but not all of us were mean girls.



i'd prefer a michelle-fanny show too, but oh well, i might as well try to love the girls...
Reply
Flag
1. I'm guessing it will become more intertwined once the show progresses. There is a real potential for a Michelle - Sascha big little sister or kind-of mother daughter (Gilmore style) relationship. At least, Michelle seemed to see right through Sascha's 'brave face' at the end of the episode. I think the kids are crucial to making the storyline exiting and placing Michele in between the 'old' adults and the kids.

2. Too concerned, but it would make sense that she brings Grant into the community. He will certainly help here with the 'land-ownership' thing and the maintenance and all. I thought it was an interesting development. Of course not anyone would ever approach a stranger like that, but this is a clear Amy Sherman-Palladino way of introducing characters.

3. Yes, not bored at all (even through the clichs). Very good how Boo keeps defending her. There is much potential there, also perhaps to learn more about Michelle's past.
Reply
Flag
1. I too want Michelle to spend more time with the girls, partly for balance, but mostly because I feel that's when Sasha really shines. I like the girls so far, and I'm glad the fourth was given a brother this week because she was the weakest of the four for me (see, I still don't know what her name was). The scene between Boo and her mother was lovely; maybe she (the mom) can be a future friend for Michelle who won't try to sell her house and land?

2. I think it might eventually be a possibility, but let's not rush things.

3. I love Sasha, to be perfectly honest. While her story line is cliche, the actress herself has real emotional sparks that I'm interested in (her telling Michelle she was fine, and last week barging in on Fanny and watching on her face how fast she realized how selfish she was being, and trying to turn that into something active and positive). I think she's flatter with the other girls than with the two grown women, but I think that's also because her character is allowed to be much more three dimensional around them. I'm hoping the other two girls start stepping up their game soon, but in the meantime, Sasha and Boo sparking off each other is keeping me interested.

4. ...was I the only one who loved the private drive sketch? I was giggling through most of the latter half of it. Stupid policeman and his lack of love for signs.
More+
Reply
Flag
1. by having michelle actually be a ballet teacher. if that's the premise, it should start to happen. and just by being around her, the girls will be more interesting.



2. the mysterious rich-guy was my problem with this episode. who talks to a stranger like that? i'm okay with being winded and begging for water, i'd have done it too, but it got a little too personal and forced.



3. sasha can eat my shorts. she's mad at the girl who was defending her? please.
Reply
Flag
I actually found Sasha's response to Boo to be very believable. Sasha works to be seen as this strong, controlled girl who doesn't get emotional. Any reaction but cutting Boo down would have made her look attention-seeking or weak or in need of the other girl's pity, which is the last thing she wants. It also isn't really fun to be psycho-analyzed behind your back, even if the person has good intentions.
Reply
Flag
I totally agree, and I know this because (as I mentioned before) it happened to me! The day she overheard me saying something nice to her, she beat me up after school (and the next day, for good measure). It wasn't until almost 10 years later (and a brief hospital stay on her part) where she appreciated it, sought me out and told me.
Reply
Flag
I think the show is definitely picking up pace. I think it's hard to establish all the characters right from the get-go without making the plot seem too overwhelming, so I personally like how the storyline has panned out. Plus, I've definitely noticed more of a balance between the dancers, Michelle and Fanny. I really like the series so far and find myself looking forward to the next episode (which is coming July 9th btw)! Now that Michelle decided to stay in Paradise, what do you think will happen? And in case you missed the latest episode, I'm here on behalf of the network to tell you that you can watch it right here (http://abcfamily.go.com/watch/bunheads/SH55185949/VD55213572/inherit-the-wind)!
Reply
Flag
Yeah, Fanny can be a handful sometimes.
Reply
Flag
I also noticed that they got more into the girls' lives. I think about the dialogue sometimes. Again, just sayin.
Reply
Flag
And I don't think Grant is a love interest for Fanny. He's younger than Hubbel! I would say a future love interest for Michelle.
Reply
Flag
1. I'm enjoying the balance just fine, thank you. I'm adoring the girls and could stand to see a bit more of them.

2. Definitely too concerned with pairing.

3. I wanted MORE of that storyline, I can relate to Boo (something like that happened to me, in that a girl who beat me up a lot heard me saying something positive about her)



The thing that is starting to bug me about the show is that everyone TALKS SO MUCH!!! One can be witty without being so everlovin' wordy. A bit of the wittiness comes across as, "see how witty we're being; we'll beat you over the head with our wittiness." For instance, the whole bit when Michelle meets Grant: easily half of that dialog about the straightaway (or should I say monolog, as it's mostly Michelle blathering on) could be cut and it would still be entertaining.
Reply
Flag
thats what an ASP show is based around, you get that from watching on episode of gilmore girls is that they talk. A LOT.
Reply
Flag
Never watched Gilmore Girls, so that is lost on me; and before you say it, the fastest way to get me to NOT watch a show is to tell me, "You HAVE to see it!"
Reply
Flag
Not trying to be negative, but have you seen Gilmore Girls, by Amy Sherman Palladino? It's a wordy show. This show will definitely be wordy and not change.
Reply
Flag
Last night was a great wordy night. Watched The Newsroom and then Bunheads. Wonderful evening...
Reply
Flag
-I don't know, but the balance between the adults and the kids is necessary. With GG it was easier giving equal time as the main two characters were mother-daughter. Here other than them being students at "her" dance studio, there's little direct connection. I have faith, though, in ASP.

-Too concerned with pairing characters off at this point. But I understand the thought. With a show like this, there are obviously going to be love interests and it's pretty obvious that that's going to happen in the future of the show, so I understand the desire to do so. Personally, though, I hope, like in GG, whatever happens it unfolds at a slower more natural pace (for the adults, kids just rush into things).

-I had wonderful parents. As such, I always feel a little bad for anyone who didn't. Also, I did ballet as a boy, and I know that there are EXACTLY conversations like what happened in this episode that go on there (I was mainly the viewer of these arguments as they generally happened between the girls), and there is almost at least one girl with parents like this in a dance studio. But you're not wrong that Boo is the best. And her crush was cute, and the fact that two of her friends were doing their very best to help her out was fantastic.



I am in love with this show (probably a little too much given its short time on the air so far), and can give it a lot of leeway. That being, and this is coming from a guy who enjoys the female persona and loves to watch these characters, this show wouldn't suffer from another main male cast member or two. I tried to pay attention to the starring cast names, and I didn't see a single male name as a star (though I could have missed one).
More+
Reply
Flag
I think it is taking longer than maybe it could to fit all the puzzle pieces together to make the basic premise work (but it was a doozy). They've given her a reason to stay. When Michelle and Fanny both start working with the dance studio, I think it will be easier to integrate the kids, because it will be one big common interest. I liked this episode because it felt like they were starting to find their feet and I really enjoyed the potential.
Reply
Flag
See, I think they've found the balance of easing us into the girls' storylines. Though I still miss Michelle and Fanny when they aren't on screen, the small stories with the girls are making them grow on me. The crush, the dead foot MAC and cheese, and Sasha's vulnerabilities were in small enough doses that I enjoyed them.



And did anyone else recognize the description of the little house behind the inn that Lorelei and Rory lived in played out in the guest house?
Reply
Flag
My favorite part was Boo and her mom in the car talking about how the healthy recipe from the cookbook Boo got her smelled like "dead foot". Cracked me up and made me love the mom. The rest of the episode was not as good as the previous ones. (What ever happened to the dog? Did the owner come collect it during the memorial service last week?)
Reply
Flag
Yeah, they should have included mom's stanky sweater in the gross foot contest along with that coupon to rent the Intrepid...
Reply
Flag
@safibwana, I disagree, I think they need to have more scenes with Michelle mixing with the girls - they are my favourite part, and need to be on screen more often. But I am a big fan of coming-of-age stuff =)
Reply
Flag
I thought it was all fine. It's one of those shows that end way too quickly leaving us wanting more. I havent seen Rory and Lorelai in forever and Kelly Bishop is great in both. So Bunheads seems better for now but I do remember the GG's were quite wonderful as well even though the final season was its worst which took a bit of a bite out of it in the end.
Reply
Flag
1. They have: mostly keep the kids off the screen.

2. Obviously and unfortunately.

3. w/e I just assumed they were explaining her, not that they were going to dwell on it.



"vsn" = "can" for those who can't read typo.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook