When Gilmore Girls
creator Amy Sherman-Palladino returned to TV in 2012 with the ABC Family ballet dramedy Bunheads
it all felt a tad familiar. From the shows music and rapid-fire
dialogue to the appearance of Kelly Bishop to Sutton Foster's uncanny
Lauren Graham-ness, it felt like Sherman-Palladino was simply
plagiarizing her own show. Bunheads
is, simply put, weird. Foster plays Michelle, a former Vegas showgirl who married her long-time stalker on a drunken whim and moved with him to his tiny hometown called Paradise where his mother runs a ballet studio. The man died in the pilot, but Michelle stayed in town to help teach dance and develop strong connections to her would-be mother-in-law and the young dancers.
The first half of season 1 ended with Michelle accidentally macing the dancers during a production of the Nutcracker, which resulted in their parents running her out of town. The mid-season premiere spends most of the episode cleaning up the plot. Michelle moved back to Vegas while Fanny closed down the ballet studio, leaving the girls on their own for the summer.
While the first episode back has some fun moments (one scene of Fanny dealing with a waiter is particularly hilarious), Bunheads really starts to find its footing in the second episode. Cleverly titled "Channing Tatum Is a Fine Actor," the January 14 episode introduces two new students at the local school, a pair of avant-garde siblings named Frankie and Cosette. Frankie is a brooding, sensitive artist who plays multiple instruments and who draws pictures only to throw them away. Cosette, played by So You Think You Can Dance
winner Jeanine Mason, speaks several languages (including fluent Urdu) and makes multiple wardrobe changes during the school day.
These are the kinds of weird, French New Wave-style characters that help make Bunheads stand apart from all other TV shows. They're utterly preposterous, but delightfully whimsical. The second episode back will also enchant Gilmore Girls
fans as it features a guest appearance by Liza Weil (aka Paris Geller).Bunheads
isn't for everyone. It's so damn quirky that it makes Zooey Deschanel look like June Cleaver. But if you love surrealism combined with Amy Sherman-Palladino's trademark fast-paced banter, the show achieves a certain type of magical genius.
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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)