A dancer realizes that her career is going nowhere, so she decides to marry the guy that has been stalking her and move to his small town in the middle of nowhere. Sound cliché? Well, yes. It is. But the reason why so many people, including myself, started and will continue watching Bunheads is because the show is produced by Gilmore Girls’s Amy Sherman-Palladino.
Gilmore Girls is known for its fast-paced conversations, eccentric characters and a soundtrack that always fit the mood perfectly. So I embarked on Bunheads expecting the same. Readers should be warned that I have watched every episode of Gilmore Girls multiple times, which has caused me to think of very strange similarities between the show and Bunheads.
Sarcastic comments? Check. Sam Phillips playing 5 minutes into the show? Beautiful. When it comes to similar characters though, Kelly Bishop, who played Emily Gilmore on Gilmore Girls and now plays Fanny Flowers on Bunheads, has a strange role in the show. At some moments, she tries to channel Emily Gilmore’s look of utter disapproval and disappointment while playing Fanny. At one point, she almost took a direct line from the seventh season, saying that since Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster) and Hubbell Flowers (Alan Ruck) eloped, Fanny deserves to be at their wedding party. The confusing part about Fanny was that she lives in a house full of antiques and Buddhas, like a weird mix of Gilmore Girls’s Mrs. Kim and her scary Buddhist mother.
At one point, Fanny brings up Michelle’s constant quips as if reminding views that that Sherman-Palladino will keep up the witty banter that she is so well known for. Foster isn’t usually on television, but she does a good job converting her dynamic presence on the Broadway stage to the set of Bunheads. She delivers her dialogue in such a strong way that her comments about strippers and serial killers are awkward and funny at the same time. Foster doesn’t quite master Gilmore Girls’ Lauren Graham’s effortless chatter, but she brings her own attitude to Sherman-Palladino’s script.
During the ballet scenes, I tried to stop comparing the show to previous shows. But the inclusion of four girls was too reminiscent of ABC Family’s “Make it or Break It,” where four girls were constantly competing with each other. The friendship and competition between these dancers will probably take up most of the plot each episode, which means that Sherman-Palladino needs to find a way to make us care about whether the girls get into ballet camp.
Michelle’s existence as a mentor to these girls makes no sense for most of the episode. Neither does her existence in the town of Paradise. That is, until the shocking twist at the end of the episode that takes Bunheads from the confines of family interactions in a small town to the drama of ABC Family, where competition and death are the norm. As the plot develops, Bunheads will probably be able to stand up on its own next to Gilmore Girls. That is, if people like me stop trying to obsessively compare the two shows.
-Rachel Witkin, Editor-in-Chief