Last week, I got the following email from a loyal YAngelist named Saskia:
Will y'all be reviewing Bunheads? I watched the pilot the other day because I'm sick with a summer flu and I was essentially drunk off my ass on Nyquil and my judgment was pretty impaired, so ABC Family was able to capitalize on my weakness from germ warfare and subsequent medically necessary intoxication. Anyway, I watched it, and I have... concerns. It is not a good show, and it does not star especially talented or even particularly competent actors, and I'm sorry to be all accusatory and whatnot but y'all MADE ME watch Dance Academy which is basically Center Stage Down Under and therefore awesome in every conceivable way, but sadly not 47 seasons long so now I have TEABS. Wait, TEASS? Whatever, teen ballet dramarama withdrawal is what I have. And in my grief and my drunken, diseased weakness, I watched Bunheads (spoiler: it did not help). And now I need to talk about it with some other fools crazy enough to watch it. Will you be those crazy fools? Please, seriously, I don't think I'm strong enough to stop watching even though it is TERRIBLE and features no real dance or romance but instead has awkward people with no chemistry occasionally having mild seizures set to music. Suffer with me? It won't be awesome, but it just might be awesomely terrible!
Saskia, your wish is my command. I WILL BE YOUR CRAZY FOOL.
So, I watched the pilot over the weekend, and... it wasn't terrible! Granted, my expectations are at an all time low thanks to Secret Circle (no really. THANKS SECRET CIRCLE. FOR NOTHING!) but I found myself thinking, "Hey, ABC Family, you guys have really stepped up your game! This show is way better than Chloe King!" Which, I realize, is not exactly high praise. So, allow me to share a few reasons why I think this show has potential.
1. Copious Amounts of Alcohol
Y'all. THERE IS SO MUCH DRINKING ON THIS SHOW. Within the first few minutes, a showgirl says, "It's Tuesday! We always get drunk on Tuesday!" and it just gets better from there. The main character, Michelle, gets wasted and ends up married, and then there's tons of cheap wine at the "wedding party," and then the teenage ballerinas steal some beer, and THEN Michelle and her new mom-in-law, Fanny, do shots at the local bar. IT'S POSITIVELY INSPIRING.
2. The Cast
First of all, Alan Ruck. ALAN RUCK. Mother effing Cameron "Let My Cameron Go" Frye from Ferris Bueller, not to mention Speed (!), is in this show. Well, briefly. But still. CAMERON! And then there's Kelly Bishop, who plays Fanny Flowers, the sassy mother-in-law. She was on Gilmore Girls, which makes sense, given that it's the same show creator, but more importantly, SHE WAS IN DIRTY DANCING YOU GUYS. WHAT. She's, like, Hollywood Royalty. And then there's Sutton Foster (Michelle), who is actually a real bona fide Broadway star. And, finally, we have an FNL alum in the hizzouse! Stacey Oristano, who played Mindy, takes a turn as the snivelling Truly, who's been in love with Hubbell (Cameraon, er, Alan Ruck) for forever. There's a bit of overacting going on but hey, it's ABC Family. Chewing the scenery is basically in the contract.
3. It's About Dance
You'd think that after all of the Step Up movies and the dance reality shows and my Dance Academy marathons that I would be sick of dance. But YOU WOULD BE WRONG. Dance is my swimfan obsession. Dance is my Edward Cullen. If there was a fanfic book called "50 Shades of Dance," I would read it. And even if the dancing on this show, as Saskia pointed out, looks like "mild seizures set to music," I WILL WATCH THE SHIZZ OUT OF IT.
There's a store called Sparkles that sells clothes. I'm sold.
Now that I've listed the positives about the show, I feel the need to include a few negatives, because I am a serious scientist and strive to be objective.
1. Skinny Girls
Two of the teenage ballerinas, Sasha and Melanie, are like stick figures. And while the show recognizes that and probably plans to make "body image" a central theme of the series, it still makes me miss the healthy, muscular gals of Dance Academy.
2. It's Kind of Ridiculous
But we were expecting that, right? It's a show on ABC Family! It's not gonna be The Wire of ballet. (Although I would totally pay to see that.) But while I can happily suspend my disbelief, there were a few moments that were way off the schtick charts. Like, Fanny and Michelle dancing together in a bar? And then suddenly finding not one but TWO men in a DIVE bar who happen to be INCREDIBLE dancers? HELL NAH.
3. Fast Talking
Like Gilmore Girls, this show features light speed conversation. Some people find this clever. Other people find it hella annoying. I'm somewhere in the middle.
So, weighing the pros and the cons, I find enough reasons to keep on returning to Paradise to see what happens to Michelle, Fanny and the bunheads. What about the rest of you?
p.s. YOU'RE WELCOME, SASKIA.