There is nothing I wanted more than to like ABC Family’s Bunheads. Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls is part of legendary TV in my book and I’ve always been anxious for her to come back. I just wish I liked this effort more.
This week’s episode, “Inherit The Wind” picks up where last week’s left off. Fanny is quite upset that Hubbell has given his twenty-four hour bride everything, including her dance studio, which if you ask me is a little much. Like really, Hubbell? Your mother has every right to be pissed. In fact, I’m pissed for her (as well as pissed that this show is still as annoying as ever). Let’s be honest, Kelly Bishop and Sutton Foster are amazing, talented actresses. Except Fanny is not Emily Gilmore and Sutton Foster is not on Broadway and Palladino has done the unthinkable and sucked every ounce of likability from them in less than three episodes.
Meanwhile, the dancers, who are supposed to be cute, charming, and garner all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings from viewers are annoying and strange and also unlikeable. We’ve been introduced to issues with their bodies, boys, and typical dance pressures, but none that actually make the girls stand out. They just end up being… annoying. For instance, this week they are having an ugly foot contest. The better the dancer is, the uglier their feet. I get that it’s supposed to come off as a dancer quirk, but instead it’s just creepy and strange and I can’t stand the dialogue. It’s too much for me and I anxiously wait for the scene to change. When Michelle finally escapes the foot contest, she heads home where more banter happens about scones, which makes me think of when Emily Gilmore bought her daughter scone mix on Gilmore Girls. For every annoyance that occurs on this show, I think about how Gilmore Girls was so much better.
Are you tired of the GG comparisons? Well, really, it’s impossible not to compare this endeavor to the incredible show that came before it. The similarities are there; small town, quirky characters, lively banter, overbearing mother, and smart, funny, female leads. The major difference between the two is that one felt effortless and Bunheads feels like it’s trying… and trying… and trying without ever getting anywhere. The monologues flowed better, the character quirks were more endearing, and the small town charm was just all around better in Stars Hollow.
Maybe I’m being unfair? GG is a hell of a shadow for to place this show in, but it’s also impossible when Palladino seems to be going the same shtick that made her previous show so popular and loved. However, here it seems that the actors are fumbling to make the quirks and winded –speeches work, which makes the speech awkward and the characterizations feel even more off than already do. Perhaps there’s a class to take for learning how to deliver Palladino’s ten page monologues and nail her impeccably written comedic timing.
This isn’t to say that the acting is the only problem – it’s a combination of the writing and delivery not coming together that’s keeping this from working. There’s no rhythm, no effortless connection. It’s kind of like watching an extremely off beat high school band. Everyone is moving at their own pace, creating an overwhelming mix of body language, dialogue, and pacing that just loses the viewer because it’s too difficult to keep up with something this offbeat.
It makes me sad to say all of this because I had such high hopes for this show. I was so excited. Elated. Jumping up and down. And that was all despite the awful title. Yet three episodes later and I find myself throwing in the towel. I’m a glutton for punishment. I’ll sit through awful television shows all the time and find ways to mock this one, but I can’t even get the energy to do that for Bunheads. Watching it feels like a waste of time. Perhaps it’ll get better. But if a show can’t hook me in three episodes, why should I stick around? I have a feeling (given her attitude) that Palladino would even tell me to do myself a favor and stop watching instead of complaining about how bad the show is every week.
Maybe I’m too much of a GG fangirl to ever accept another show by Palladino that follows a similar format. I almost wish she had given Michelle a teenage daughter who was a dancer to balance out the awkward female relationships. That would give one understandably tight knit relationship and possibly further explain why Michelle is so desperate to stay in this town that thinks she’s a crazy Vegas showgirl stripper tramp. However, this show can’t depend on those random moments where Bishop and Foster’s moments align onscreen in pure TV magic. They have the right kind of chemistry and banter and comedic timing when they’re together, but it’s not enough. And it shouldn’t have to be enough when there are so many characters going in and out (another overwhelming trait of this show – I love small town flair, but when it’s constantly happening and the viewer can’t get a feel for the townies, that’s a problem).
So my love affair with Bunheads ends here. I came to this show with an open mind, I tried to give it a chance, and now I’m giving up. This show has conquered me. Here’s hoping I eat my words and it picks up enough that someone convinces me to give it another chance. If it does, I’ll be back with a major apology, but this is where I admit defeat, step aside and return to my sanity. In fact, I hope it proves me wrong in the long run because I firmly believe TV needs Palladino. It just needs Palladino at her best and this is most certainly not it.
I’ll turn this over to my fellow viewers. What do you think? Have you watched Bunheads? Am I a complete maniac? Do you love or hate it? Leave your thoughts below! I’d love to hear them!