The second episode of Bunheads left me calculating how many more episodes I need to watch before I can confidently say that I gave it an honest try and discovered that it's just not for me.
I KNOW, I know, I just got done proving, in scientific terms, why this show might be worth watching. But the pilot was so charming! And sure, it was flawed, but it's a pilot! Everyone knows that pilots suck! So I was genuinely disappointed to discover that the second episode was not a marked improvement. At all.
But first, a summary!
So, as we all know, Hubbell is dead, although no one seems to be able to say the word "dead," which I find kind of weird. I mean, it's a whole lot less awkward to say "dead" than it is to aggressively nod your head while making crazy eyes at people and forcing them to play a morbid game of charades. Anyway! Hubbell is dead, and Fanny is coping with it by planning the most ridiculous memorial service in the history of television, involving napkins printed with the Dalai Lama's face and an aircraft carrier. Michelle tries to help but feels ignored by Fanny and forced out by Truly, who blames Michelle for her beloved Hubbell's death, not to mention the loss of his pies. ("Well, he made pies. I just ate them. They were so good!") Michelle goes on a walk and ends up with a dog at a local surfer bar run by Rico, aka Poor Man's Hulk Hogan. When Michelle, fed up with the spiraling insanity of the service, returns home and confronts Fanny, she responds with a weepy monologue about how she and she alone will determine how to say good-bye to her son. Meanwhile, the bunheads use Hubbell's death as an excuse to skip school and watch a Mark Wahlberg movie, but they still end up in the studio, waiting for Fanny to teach them. When she never comes, Skinny Sasha finds Michelle and demands that they do something to help Fanny. So together, Michelle and the bunheads surprise Fanny by inviting the community to the studio for a memorial service featuring a "touching" ballet performance. (I will neither confirm nor deny that I got a little teary.) Fanny is touched, and it seems like she and Michelle might be on the verge of forming some kind of bond until they discover that Hubbell changed his will at the last minute and left everything, including the house, to Michelle. RUH-ROH.
Now, I've come up with a few categories to help us analyze the episode and determine both the highlights and the WTFery. Let's break it down, y'all!
Scenes Featuring Alcohol: 2
Compared to the pilot, that's obscenely low, but I gotta give pants to Michelle for that beer chug at the end. Girlfriend is a pro!
Episode MVP: Rico the Bartender, aka The Poor Man's Hulk Hogan (TPMHH)
Really, it should be the dog, but we don't even know his name yet. So I'm awarding MVP status to Rico (TPMHH), who managed to bring some life into a caricature, which is more than I can say for most of the people on this show. When Michelle asks, "What's not gross here?" his reaction is pitch perfect. "Uh," he says, pointing to the menu, "that has its moments."
Worst Scenery Damage (From all of the chewing. Get it? GET IT?): The Bunhead Breakdown
When Michelle finds the bunheads in the studio, and they all start fakely crying about Mark Wahlberg and Salma Hayek in a bra and feeling guilty and their voices get really high-pitched and OMG I wanted to slam my head against the barre because STOP. Don't talk, bunheads. JUST DANCE.
Percentage of the Show Featuring Actual Dancing: 5%
Besides the big dance at the end, which was sweet, I guess, the only other dancing was Michelle's weird moment of doing showgirl moves in front of the studio mirror as a sort of emotional outlet. WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE SOME LIFTS, PEOPLE? Or at the very least, please tell me the bunheads get into hip hop at some point.
Hot Guys: 0
Y'all, I'm sorry, but I need at least one hot male specimen in every television show that I watch. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK, HOLLYWOOD?
WTF Moment: Michelle Hates Brunch
Honestly, this might have been the death blow for my relationship with Bunheads. How can I like the main character if she doesn't appreciate my favorite meal of the day? Moreover, HOW CAN SOMEONE NOT LIKE BRUNCH? That's like saying, "I hate mimosas," or "I hate quiche." And it's not just like saying that, Michelle is literally saying that she hates mimosas and quiche. MICHELLE WHY YOU SO LOCO?!
There were more than a few runner ups in this category, like the fabulous Ellen Greene being squandered as a one dimensional cray cray Wiccan artist. And maybe that's the problem I have with Bunheads. It's trying SO HARD to be quirky that it forgets all about maintaining any sort of emotional depth. How can I connect with a show if it gives me nothing to connect with? How can I embrace the characters if there's nothing to embrace? It is entirely possible for a show to balance whimsicality with authenticity (Pushing Daisies is a brilliant example), but I fear that Bunheads isn't even trying.
What say you, fellow dance show addicts? Do you think this episode was a step in a good direction, or the wrong direction? Share your opinions, highlights and rants in the comments. And remember, stay on point! (BALLET JOKE!)