TV Recaps

Bunheads Series Premiere Recap: "Pilot"

I must preface this recap by saying how much I adore Amy Sherman-Palladino. Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite shows of all time (Team Rory Gilmore/Team Jess Mariano for Life), so I’ve been waiting for the moment that she returned to TV. She writes quick, witty dialogue with her characters that talk a mile a minute and have the most amazing quirks and characterizations, which is just my TV style. And while she’s made attempts in recent years, none of her shows have taken off, but Bunheads may be the show to stick around and follow her epic predecessor (I know, I know. It may not be the best name for a TV show, but it’s worth it).

I must preface this recap by saying how much I adore Amy Sherman-Palladino. Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite shows of all time (Team Rory Gilmore/Team Jess Mariano for Life), so I’ve been waiting for the moment that she returned to TV. She writes quick, witty dialogue with her characters that talk a mile a minute and have the most amazing quirks and characterizations, which is just my TV style. And while she’s made attempts in recent years, none of her shows have taken off, but Bunheads may be the show to stick around and follow her epic predecessor (I know, I know. It may not be the best name for a TV show, but it’s worth it).

Although, let’s be honest, the initial plotline is a bit silly. Michelle is an out of luck Vegas showgirl, who can’t seem to break away from a poorly paid member in a chorus line. Hubbell Flowers is her serious admirer, worshipping her despite the fact that she constantly blows him off and couldn’t be less interested. Fortunately for him, Michelle gets drunk at dinner and he manages to make her swoon enough to commit to marriage. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up in his car the following morning, a diamond on her hand, and smeared eyeliner and mascara beneath her eyes. What saves this from being completely ridiculous is Sutton Foster’s charming portrayal of Michelle. Instead of disliking her treatment of Hubbell, you feel sorry for her and kind of immediately root for her to run off with Hubbell – even if it takes a drunken marriage to make it happen.

Naturally, the first thing Hubbell does after getting married is bring his bride home. It’s clear from the house, which is over decorated and crowded with so many different things it’s suddenly a character all on its own, that someone is a borderline hoarder. Thankfully, Hubbell’s room is normal. The décor is courtesy of his mother, a ballet teacher named Fanny played by Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore, Gilmore Girls). And Bishop’s former role actually disappears in Fanny. While there are similarities between characters, primarily their fierce presence and strong lead in the family, the wardrobe, hair style, makeup and overall demeanor of Fanny transform Bishop completely. It’s kind of amazing.

Fanny is surprised that his son has brought home a bride he married in Vegas and insists on throwing her a party. It seems Hubbell’s a bit of a mama’s boy, so that’s awkward to discover not only did you marry a guy drunk, but you married his mother as well. Fanny invites some of her dance students, four of whom will also be focused on during the show, named Boo, Melanie, Ginny, and Sasha. Boo wears a Snoopy leotard, so I instantly like her. The girls are excited about the party, which surprises Michelle, who assumes the girls would have more exciting things to do. Only the town of Paradise has no cinema and fun is considered reading late the library. And as if that’s not bad enough, Michelle realizes she didn’t even pack a wardrobe, so Fanny sends her off to a store called Sparkles to find something to wear.

And at Sparkles, we meet one of the first insane townies that’s true to Palladino’s style, Truly, who is in love with Hubbell and heartbroken that Michelle has stolen. Still, she gives Michelle a dress she made and insists that she wear it.

While the party starts, Boo talks to Fanny about an audition for a summer ballet school scholarship. Fanny reminds her that although she’s big-boned and heavy at the waist, she should still try. That’s the kind of encouragement an insecure, struggling with body image girl needs, so kudos to Fanny.

At the party, Michelle struggles amidst the town gossip about her identity and Fanny informs her that Truly and Hubbell used to date and had a tough breakup. This is yet another thing that overwhelms Michelle. Getting married in Vegas is hard, people, especially when you don’t love your groom and apparently Michelle is incapable of love. This isn’t enough to scare Hubbell off and something about him endears me, even if I’d find him pathetic and creepy in real life. Something tells me watching her fall in love with Hubbell is going to be a lot of fun.

Not that it won’t be met with obstacles. Fanny is Team Truly and is trying to convince her that Hubbell’s relationship won’t last. Uh, oh. However, Hubbell won’t stand for his mother’s antics and stands up for Michelle in what is a very endearing moment that would make him less pathetic and creepy – you know, if I was thinking that sort of thing about him. Who knew he could go from so strange to charming in a matter of 40 minutes?

The ballet dancer foursome has snuck out of the party and into the dance studio with some beers and Michelle interrupts, schooling them on her life and dance and auditions. She tells them the first step to an audition is wearing something comfortable that will make you feel confident – I’d consider that good life advice. And then Michelle sets up an impromptu audition for the girls that is fun and adorable and so far from anything Fanny would ever do with them.

Fanny watches from the doorway and finds what Michelle is doing refreshing, and the two have an instant way to bond. Yes. This is going to be good. Why? Because Fanny takes Michelle to the bar for shots and the two trade witticisms and jabs and they have the kind of rhythm that is pretty magical for TV. They have an odd understanding of one another and the life they could have had versus the ones they do, even Michelle’s lack of love for Hubbell and the possibility that she could fall in love with him. And in true dancer spirit, the two take to the floor together and it’s downright fun to watch.

This moment is quickly ruined when Truly arrives and tells Michelle and Fanny that Hubbell has been in a car accident and died. Oh, did this statement seem abrupt to you in this recap? That’s because it was in the show and I’m currently freaking out and don’t know how else to recap that, other than to say that it will bring a lot of potential to these women’s relationship and I’m suddenly quite sad that Michelle will never get to love Hubbell and Fanny’s last encounter with her son was a fight. Holy crap, this is sad, but in the most amazing way possible. And just like that, I’m pretty sure I’m in love with this show.

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About the author

Amber Cunigan

Amber Cunigan is a sarcastic mid-twenties undergrad, extreme book hoarder, Netflix addict, and reality TV aficionado. She enjoys excessive amounts of chocolate and caffeine, tweeting, and all things Ezra Fitz and Ryan Gosling. When it comes to TV, she expects to be thoroughly entertained and when not, she will slam and mock you, but still tune in next week. She's a glutton for punishment. Basically, she's awesome.