Bunheads: Dirty Dancing

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Bunheads S01E08: "Blank Up, It's Time"

Last week’s episode of Bunheads put Michelle in a leadership role and showed how the series could integrate the adults and the teenagers. This week's installment, "Blank Up, It's Time," wasn’t quite as cohesive: Fanny and Michelle got their own stories, outside of teaching. But even if it didn’t all come together, the different parts mostly worked on their own.

Maybe that’s the way it needs to be—silly name or not, Bunheads has a lot of stories to tell. The quiet town of Paradise is surprisingly active, and perhaps there’s too much happening for a more limited focus. Of course, I’m biased toward an episode where the adults get to let loose a little.

Hey, Michelle had sex! And so did Fanny, presumably.

I didn’t realize how much I’d missed Fanny until she was back: Yes, let’s express even more admiration for Kelly Bishop. This week, we got some interesting parallels between Fanny and her daughter-in-law—they both though they knew what they needed from their relationships, but they quickly realized they were wrong. It was nice to see a different side of both of them. Especially Fanny, who’s been a bit of a cold fish until now.

Who knew Fanny had a sort of boyfriend? Her relationship with Michael was exactly the kind I’d imagine her to have—matter-of-fact, convenient, uncomplicated. But as Michelle pointed out, maybe Fanny wanted more from her beau than that. And indeed, by the end of the episode, she’d admitted that she missed him and asked him to stay indefinitely. Fanny isn’t cold: She’s just limited in the way she sees things. It was surely Michelle’s influence that helped her explore a need she didn’t know she had.

And Michelle, who tried to enjoy a little casual sex, realized that she has baggage to work through when she broke down while thinking about Hubbel. Bunheads has kind of brushed past the major character death in the first episode, so on that level, it felt right to finally address it again. But we’re also getting to see more of Michelle, a woman who uses humor (and a very fast speaking pace) to repress the less pleasant aspects of life. It was a bummer to see her break, but it’s also necessary to understanding her as more than a gabby reference machine.

(Quick note: Michelle’s hook-up Conor was played by Chris Eigeman, whom Gilmore Girls fans will remember as Lorelai’s boyfriend Jason. Can we get a GG actor in every episode? I’m into this.)

As for the dance studio side of things, Sasha continued to flip out and eventually chose cheerleading over dance. Um, okay. I get that she’s having trouble at home, but I still think this story is clunky. She goes from rebellious tan lines to blue hair? And then she joins the cheerleading squad? It’s an assemblage of clichés that don’t really work for me. I swear I don't set out to rag on her every week—I think Julia Goldani Telles is one of the show’s most captivating actors. I just can’t bring myself to care about Sasha and her mood swings.

Boo’s budding romance with Carl, however—that I’m into. Of course she’d end up falling for the awkward guy she didn’t want to be paired with. But obvious or not, it was cute. And how obnoxious of Melanie and Ginny to tell him off: So far, Carl’s only fault seems to be that he does a Stewie Griffin impression, which is usually the sign of a tool. I’m hoping Boo can get past her friends’ disapproval and finally move on to someone who isn’t Charlie.

And the dancing! The dancing was charming and lovely. I keep forgetting all of these young actors are dancers, too, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see them in action. It's easy to get lost in the performances: Throw in a couple dances and an uneven episode’s flaws melt away.


QUESTIONS:

– Was it too soon after Hubbel’s death for Michelle to sleep with Conor?

– Which Gilmore Girls actor are you dying to see on Bunheads?

– How long until Sasha gets an attitude adjustment and rejoins Fanny’s class?

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