The show revolves around Michelle (Sutton Foster), a Vegas showgirl. She impulsively (drunkenly) marries Hubble one night and moves to the small town he lives in. In a strange twist of fate, her mother-in-law owns a dance studio. Michelle tries adjusting to life in a small town (there is no movie theater or regular grocery store) and dealing with people she does not know. The show was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the same person who created “Gilmore Girls.”
Michelle is lost. I don’t mean she does not know where she is. She has no real direction in life and has ended up here. Dealing with other people is a skill set she has not developed. Moving around whenever she feels like it has become second nature to her as she does not put down roots anywhere. In the very first episode she reveals that she ran from being established as a dancer. This reveals that the source of her pleasure (dancing) is also the source of her pain. She loves dancing but her feelings of self doubt continually show up in her dreams where she is rejected. This leads to one complaint about the show; the lack of dancing by Michelle. She loves dancing but we rarely see her dancing. Sutton Foster has performed on Broadway so she should be able to handle what they want her to do.
There are several similarities between the two shows, primarily the protagonists. Both shows have tall brunettes who are strong willed, quick speakers, and good with pop references. G.G. was set in Stars Hollow while “Bunheads” is set in Paradise. Both are small towns filled with eccentric characters. Several people who showed up in G.G. have also appeared in this new series.
My biggest change of heart comes with the character Truly. Stacey Oristano plays Truly and I originally thought the character was too over the top. I no longer feel that way and she is now my favorite character on the show. ABC Family has already called for more episodes so I hope to see more of her next time. She is an odd but entertaining character. My favorite bit so far is when Michelle called Truly in a panic over pipes leaking. Michelle calls and starts to complain about the pipes when Truly picks up the phone. When Michelle stops, Truly says, “This is Truly. I make dresses.” Truly has not appeared in the last two episodes of this arc and I hope she becomes a regular character when the show returns.
The show has great moments: the ringer, Rose Abdoo, small town life, etc. Sherman-Palladino is good at adding these details. Quick dialogue is not present here (not like it was in G.G.) but the inimitable Kelly Bishop is. She is the only person to star in both shows (others only make appearances).
Since the show is about dancing we get to meet several young women who are learning ballet. Their lives bleed into the episodes and we get to see how complicated romantic lives can be even at age sixteen. Each girl is well-defined with characteristics from the snarky to the optimistic. Sasha is snarky and is the one who needs Michelle and her guidance the most.
One thing I find missing is the Luke and Lorelei relationship from G.G. Michelle does not have a Luke so far but what she does have is the guy of the week. Every week she meets a new man who might be a romantic prospect. The list so far includes the millionaire, the director and the surfer. They appear then they disappear. The exception is the surfer who has shown up several times but, in the last episode of this block, said he was getting ready to leave. I prefer the millionaire since he is age appropriate, lives in the town and is someone who can match her verbally.
This is a good show and I am glad it will be coming back. It does not have the depth of G.G. yet but I think it will get there. As the show progresses I hope we get to see more of the town as this is what Michelle needs. She needs to grow as a person, to become an adult and being around young girls can help her get there. This, as with G.G., is an easy show to get invested in.