Bunheads: Keep the Change

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Bunheads S01E05: "Money for Nothing"

Money is a necessary evil—oh, screw that, money is awesome. You use it to buy cool things. But in the world of dance, it can be an impediment to self-expression. “I’m an artist, okay?” Fanny says. “I don’t think about money.” Everyone should be able to dance in Fanny’s eyes, and she has a point. How do you put a price tag on creativity and performance?

On the flip side, how do you not? Dance studios have expenses. Dance studio owners have expenses. “Money for Nothing” was all about finding that balance: Fanny realized her backwards payment system was getting her into serious trouble, and Michelle discovered she’d have to take some responsibility now that she’s a permanent resident in Paradise—not to mention a property owner. Oh, and Boo had to jump in a dumpster to earn an honest wage. It’s the economy, stupid.

This week's episode was one of the show's best yet, and not just because it had a big choreographed dance number and an adorable possum. This show has already given us a great location and characters. It has established some of the major themes, and offered a sense of what problems we’ll have to deal with throughout the season. Now we can sit back and enjoy—enough exposition, enough settings things up. I just want to move to Paradise and relax.

Not that life in the town is problem-free: That would be boring. But you can tell Bunheads is becoming more confident in its characters and relationships. We know that Fanny is stubborn and doesn’t like to think about the little details (insofar as money is a little detail). We know that Michelle is completely well intentioned but often does the wrong thing. And we get the dynamic of the four girls—this week we even got to see a bit more of Ginny and Melanie, and how they fit in with Sasha and Boo.

Enough about the bigger picture: Let’s talk about some little things I loved this week. For starters, the references. Bunheads is a way smarter show than anyone is giving it credit for, particularly on a teen-friendly network like ABC Family. I’m not saying there aren’t teenagers who appreciate references to Michael Chiklis’s character on The Shield and Pina Bausch. Maybe some tweens even snickered at Sasha ordering a “Temple Grandin” at the bar. But seriously, this show is hitting Gilmore Girls-levels of pop-culture winking. Let’s keep it going.

Next up, Godot. I don’t really care what he’s doing here; he seems too old for Boo, and he’s yet another character to be integrated into the show. But it doesn’t matter—he looks good shirtless, which seems to be his primary reason for existing. I like Godot. He has a stupid name and he smells like a coconut snickerdoodle. But look, if Bunheads is going to give us Pina Bausch references, it might as well give us eye candy, too. We’re still watching ABC Family, right? And while I do think Godot is too old for Boo, I also 'ship Aria and Ezra on Pretty Little Liars. Just saying.

And finally, the dance. The battle of paper and plastic against nature and a canvas tote was silly and wonderful. I think it captured the tone of the show perfectly: absurd and fun but with some grace and gravitas underneath. Plus, it was just fun to watch. I will continue to advocate for more singing and dancing: On a series starring Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop, how can I not? There are a lot of talented dancers here. I want to see their moves on a weekly basis.

I’m sure we will be seeing more performances once Michelle takes over some teaching duties. Is there even any doubt that she will? From the beginning, Bunheads has been guiding us in this direction—putting Michelle in a new role is the only way the plot really makes sense. Other than owning property, which she could sell, she’s got no real reason to stay in Paradise. Give her some attachment to these kids and I’ll buy that she’s not leaving any time soon.

And maybe let her mack on Godot a bit. (What? He’s age appropriate!)


QUESTIONS:

1. Is there more to Godot than perfect abs, and does it even matter?

2. How can Michelle teach and still pursue her career as a performer?

3. When is Truly finally going to snap?

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