Bunheads: Watch Like Nobody's Watching

Bunheads S01E01: "Pilot"

God help me, I love Bunheads.

This isn’t really a surprise. I was predisposed to fall for the new Amy Sherman-Palladino series from the get-go. But that didn’t make me any less delighted by the pilot, which felt—despite very few plot similarities—like the Gilmore Girls spin-off I never knew I needed.

The banter. The sharp female characters. The quirky small town. The Kelly Bishop. It’s not Gilmore Girls, but it has just the right feel to it. Sutton Foster’s Michelle owes an incredible debt of gratitude to Lorelai Gilmore: These women were made from the same mold. And while that could be a point against Bunheads, Foster is so charming it doesn’t even matter that her character’s a little derivative.

It’s worth noting that Bunheads at least seems aware of this, with Bishop’s Fanny remarking, “Oh my God, the quips, the chatter, don’t you ever shut up?” (Emily Gilmore would never have been so harsh.) Later in the episode, she told Michelle, “You should have been a radio personality or an auctioneer.” Indeed, it’s hard to believe someone as bubbly and quick as Michelle would end up as a Las Vegas showgirl—a background showgirl, no less.

I haven’t said much about the plot; that’s because it’s one of the weaker points and I prefer to focus on the series’ charms. But yes, Bunheads’ entire set-up is absurd, and you have to be willing to go with it from the beginning, lest you start to question everything else. I’ll buy that Michelle, in a moment of drunken desperation, got hitched to a man who clearly loved her more than most. But if you expect me to believe she’s going to stay in this small town where almost everyone hates her and try to make a go of it without her husband—come on now.

And yet, if we’re being honest, I don’t care. ABC Family series are allowed a little more leeway than those of other cable networks when it comes to logic. (See also: my reviews of Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game.) Sometimes you have to just accept the silly and enjoy a show for what it is. That’s especially easy when it also has smart writing and some truly honest character moments. The conversation between Michelle and Fanny about life’s missed opportunities? Amid all the zaniness and the choreographed dances, that felt real.

Writing aside, Foster and Bishop are the real selling points. My only concern at this point is that the network will feel a need to move the show’s focus more toward the four young girls—more on them in a bit—and neglect the adults. Foster has been a big Broadway star for years, and she’s so likeable it’s surprising she hasn’t found more crossover success. Bishop is, of course, best known for her role as the Gilmore Girls’ stern but well intentioned matriarch. She gets to have a little more fun here (hello, dance sequence), but she’s still a hard-ass, and that’s what she does best.

Okay, so the girls: Boo, Sasha, Ginny, and Melanie. I can’t really tell them apart yet, except that Boo is insecure (and “ballet fat,” allegedly) and Sasha is kind of a B (with a gay dad!). None of them jumped out to me the way that Michelle and Fanny did—even Hubbel was a more developed character. But hey, the Bunheads pilot had to do a lot in terms of setting up Michelle’s backstory and her arrival in Paradise. I’m willing to give the series the benefit of the doubt, in the hopes that the four dancers will be fleshed out a bit in the coming weeks. Also, and this is a side note, but can we skip the eating disorder storyline? I can feel it coming already, and “done to death” is an understatement.

But to quote a Magnetic Fields song, “nothing matters when we’re dancing.” How fun was it when Michelle gave the girls an impromptu dance number to perform? It might not have helped me get to know the dancers any better, but it did put a smile on my face for a few minutes. What I’m saying is, there’s a lot about Bunheads to love, and there may be a few things to merely tolerate, but as long as there is choreography, I’ll probably be happy. Between the banter and the dancing, I’m entranced.


What'd you think of the premiere?

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One of my favorite scenes was the audition dance. It brought out a lot about the young dancers that was worth noting. Boo and 2 of the others picked up the moves fairly quickly and had fun. Sasha was so stiff and uncomfortable. Based on my years of watching SYTYCD(!) it seems that dancers need to be able to pick up choreography really quickly and with feeling.

Amy Sherman-Palladino is why I had to watch. I love what she and Aaron Sorkin do with dialog. I am falling in love with this show for the dancing and how the dancing will mirror the character and development of each young dancer.

About Hubbel, what the ****? He was a character that I wanted to get to know!
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I absolutely love the feel of this show, you hit it on the head when you said this was the Gilmore Girls spinoff you never knew you needed. I haven't laughed this much in a long time, everybody is so typically crazy in that town. And yes, the story itself was a bit out there, but I really don't care with this show.

I do regret what they set up for Hubbel, because I would have liked to see where that was going, but it is a bold move for a pilot.

And the audition dance was great! Especially because I thought (probably like I was supposed to think) that she just threw something crazy together, but she could redo it step for step. She has a natural chemistry with those girls and with Hubbels mother and that, eventually, is what we all watched GG for and what I will watch this show for.



"Dogs. It's the sequel to Cats. I made that up."
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I just figured that she used the dance she was going to use for "Chicago" and never did.
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I'm a hugeeeee gilmore girls fan so of course I watched it because of ASP! I wasn't in love with the pilot but the show has potential, unfortunately I really loved the moment between hubbel and michelle so I really hope he didn't die. Looking forward to next week!
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I am probably the biggest GG fan ever, and I was soooooooo excited when I heard about this show. It did not disappoint me! I loved the audition dance and I think Boo is the cutest thing ever. I can't wait to see more!
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It was great, but the show isn't really my type of show. 20 bucks Michelle ends up prego, any takers?
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I thought the same thing... It would give her a reason to stay.
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as the biggest gilmore girls fan ever (like, i still watch episodes that i've seen dozens of times and know dialogue by heart), i had to watch this. and it was lovely. kelly bishop is still awesome, even though her make-up isn't. however, even thoug sutton foster is great and funny and quick, she lacks lauren graham's charisma. nobody's perfect. i'm guessing a lot of crossover is going to happen. i mean i already saw "gipsy" and sam phillips is doing the music.



now, i don't know how much jenji kohan (producer on GG) had to do with lorelai, but i do feel like nancy botwin from "weeds" (mary-louise parker) is like lorelai for the over 21. being on abc family, i guess it goes michelle-lorelai-nancy on the children-adult ladder.



i also wish hubbell stayed. do we know for a fact he's dead??



uh, and can i stab sasha with a fork?
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Sadly he is gone. How ABC family managed to keep this a secret I have no idea
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I was loving the show but after they killed Hubbell I deleted my season pass. I got attached to the love story - I would have enjoyed watching this quirky married couple getting to know eachother - and seeing Michelle rescue Hubbell while he tries to rescue her. The ballet and other relationships were nice but I was hooked on Hubbell by the middle of the pilot and don't care enough about the other characters to watch them mourn him.
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I was surprised as well and also looked forward to seeing their relationship, but there is so much more you can do with a single character. I understand it.
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I loved it. I watched it early online last week and then watched it again last night. It made me realize how much I missed Gilmore Girls. The banter and the dialogue was great.



I agree that the plot wasn't the attraction here, but rather laying the foundation of where the series can go. Loved the interaction with the girls in the dance audition. Also thought it was brilliant with the wedding party and the argument so that the whole town knows that they were actually married AND that the marriage was consummated, so there can be no question that Michelle inherits.



If the writing continues to be half as good as GG, I'm hooked.
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I was shocked that I liked this show. It looks stupid, it sounds stupid, but boy was it entertaining. I will definitely keep it on my list of DVR recordings.
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I loved the premiere. It was excellent and set up exactly what it needed to set up, and that includes the tone of the show. Love both of the main characters, and I look forward to getting more of the younger characters involved. But it's the witty writing for me. I cannot get enough of that.



And everyone compares the two because they were created by the same person. It doesn't mean they're the same show, they're not. But GG was awesome, and if this one continues as I think it shall... it will be awesome, too. And that's what we like.
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I felt like they're trying too hard to give it the same feel as Gilmore Girls, and failed at it. doesn't help that the town is basically like a not-as-nice Stars Hallow, the dance studio looked a whole lot like Miss Patty's, using people from Gilmore Girls (Emily, and was that Gyspsy at Truly's store??) and main girl is basically Lorelai Gilmore but not as interesting. it wasn't bad, I'll probably keep watching it, but Amy Sherman Palladino should've tried harder to distance it from the Gilmore Girls vibe.
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Alex Borstein was also in it. When Michelle was standing in front of her apartment drinking a beer she was the tramped out neighbof. Borstein was also to have played Sookie in GG. She is married to Jackson Douglas(Jackson) so hopefully he will show up to!!
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Why is everyone comparing BH to GG? Because there are strong female characters over the age of 30 who are leading interesting lives? BH doesn't feel like GG to me. What it does feel like is this: Another hit for Amy Sherman Palladino.
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Because not only was it created by the same person, but it is the same feel, slick smart pop culture lady in small town with crazy mom character (just an in law in this case). It's the same reason people compared Lost to Alcatraz (for 5 minutes) I thought it felt like GG again, but I'm okay with that. It will find its own footing later.
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I loved it. Michelle is (to me) Lorelei Gilmore minus the teen pregnancy and add Vegas showgirl, but it was still fantastic. I love seeing Gypsy in a dress, and Kelly Bishop was outstanding. I'm not sure why she will stay, but i don't care. At least not yet. Amy S-P has a way of making it a ll a little more believable than real life. It was fun and though I was surprised by Hubbel's sudden death, it makes it even more Lorelei-like. She will be fiercely single, with a million words a minute and pop culture references... I'm looking forward to more.
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I agree SO MUCH with this. I was actually surprised at how much I did like it. I will definitely be tuning in each week.
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feel pretty much the same about the pilot. i hope the show don't get cancelled right away! i'm not sure it will be a hit.
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The show does remind very much of Gilmore Girls. Interesting that Amy Sherman wants to do something that is so obviously like, as you said, a spin-off of her previous work. But I guess this style is Amy's forte.
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This show is ridiculously well done. For one hour a week I can just forget about being a man and enjoy this.
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Fully agreed. Amy Sherman-Palladino knows how to write a good show (otherwise I could never have watched and rewatched "Gilmore Girls"). And of course Kelly Bishop.
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How I Miss Gilmore Girls!

This Wasn't bad, is Hubbell really dead or injured? Either way the plot might just be that Michelle inherits everything, and that the mother is so sad that she decides to stay a little to help.
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from the preview next week, it looks like he;s dead because of how upset everyone is and michelle looking forlornly at a picture of hubbell and the mom says "my heart is completely broke" which makes it seem like he died as opposed to in a coma or something.
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I have to agree, I fell in love with it immediately. And was surprised at how quickly they got rid of Hubbell, that I honestly didn;t see coming. Not that I think it's a bad choice, because the scenes with Hubbell were the more awkward to watch, and it will mean that in order to stay she;ll have to bond with some bunheads.

they didn't go into the teen girls very much but i look forward to learning more about them and am excited to see more of this show.
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I watched it and loved it. I also explained it to my husband and made it sound a whole lot more plausible. I never watched "Gilmore Girls", so any inside quips were lost on me; I know Kelly Bishop better as Baby's mom on "Dirty Dancing". The girls, while a tad stereotypical, are nonetheless adorable.



There WAS an ABC series nod, which I shared with my husband (who is a "Revenge" fan": "I let my mother decorate." "Oh, how Greyson of you!"



I will definitely be giving this show another chance; we'll see where Ep. 2 brings me.
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