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Wednesday, 28 of October of 2020

Bunheads – “Pilot”

“As long as my face doesn’t look like Chris Hansen, your guests will be fine.”

BunheadsSo as you may or may not be aware, Nick and I are huge fans of Gilmore Girls. We find nothing embarrassing about this because Gilmore Girls is a damn fine show. Stop judging us. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND OUR LOVE.


We were both understandably intrigued by Bunheads when it started circulating given our Amy Sherman-Palladino love (and it didn’t look like Jezebel James, which was a plus). So we both watched it and then discussed it in a small chat session, hence the more conversational tone.  –Noel

Noel: Yay Bunheads!

Nick: Yeah, it’s not bad. But does that mean Alan Ruck isn’t in it anymore?

Noel: I guess? I mean, that was kind of dark. I think he’s dead. Could be a coma. But, yeah.

Nick: A lot of directions to go with either one. But it totally is Gilmore Girls (GG) with a beach.

Noel:  Yep. And ballerinas. And no Kirk.

Nick: A Kirk could develop. Kirk wasn’t a character until later.

Noel: True. But, yeah, it’s straight up GG. Framing, musical cues, long-ish takes. And Sutton Foster might as well be Lauren Graham.

Nick: The music cues is what got me. I mean — they’re totally recycled. Sutton Foster is definitely Lauren Graham. Though I’m not sure she has the charisma. But that’s fine for who she’s playing.

Noel: I think she’ll grow into it. I thought she was doing well with the mock-audition sequence.

Nick: That was a bright point.

Noel: And she was keeping up with Emily Bishop, so long as she can do that, everything will be okay.

Nick: Yes. I’m surprised they didn’t already introduce a Luke.

Noel: Well, didn’t want to tip that Alan Ruck death thing.

Nick: Or coma.

Noel: Or alien abduction.

Nick: Truly truly wasn’t clear on that. It just came out of nowhere.

Noel: It does feel like shock for shock’s sake a little bit. But also an inciting incident because now she’s either stranded or has to go back to Vegas. And she’s obviously stranded.

Nick: I think, even if I wasn’t predisposed to AS-P’s style, this is a strong pilot. Defined, nuanced characters, plot that moves, stakes. I felt more for the characters in this show than I did for The Cape and that show had two hours for their initial offering.

Noel: Well, that was The Cape. Hardly a fair comparison. I’m not sure, beyond GG, what I would compare it to though. Maybe Parenthood? (Cannot escape Lauren Graham.)

Nick: Parenthood was also a strong pilot, particularly with so many characters getting introduced.

This title, though. I don’t know if I can get over it.

Noel: Eh, I’m really not concerned with it. It’ll be more about their lives and how it intersects at this dance studio than fully about ballet, I suspect (though, of course, there’ll be dancing, dammit!) What would you have preferred for a title?

Nick: Another Show Where a Pretty Dark Haired Woman in Her Thirties Embarrasses Herself Socially By Wearing Jean Shorts?

Noel: AS-P is certainly concerned with the social graces of jorts.

Nick: It’s a hotly debated topic.

Noel: So apart from the title, what else didn’t you like? I mean calling the town Paradise was pretty heavy-handed and horrible, I think.

Nick: I think it should’ve been called Windward Circle.

There wasn’t a whole lot to hate about it. I mean, the only thing I can really be critical about is how akin it is to GG. But would that be like saying West Wing isn’t good because it uses some of the same tools as Sports Night?

I also struggle with Kelly Bishop playing a character that would have clowns and frogs in the living room.

Noel:  Hahaha. And monkeys.

Yeah, I had a little bit of a togh time getting a firm grasp her. She’s cheap (the wine), lots of whimsy stuff, but balks at her son impulse marrying. I get the feeling of exclusion that brings, but the open hostility seems a bit out of place given the rest of it. But then she goes out and does shots, which is such a non-Emily Gilmore thing, so I suppose it eases up a tad…? But it still felt a little off.

Nick: Her character was a little all of over the place for me. She’s Buddhist, whimsical, but also a strict ballet madame and a gossip.

Noel:  Characters can, and should, be multiple things, but a consistency is needed, and that doesn’t completely come through. But it is only the pilot. We just met her. But it does feel more motivated by the need for drama than necessarily by the character. If that distinction makes sense

Nick: It does. It’s just weird to have that character be so unfocused when I didn’t feel that way for anyone else.

Noel:  True. Michelle’s pretty straight forward and focused from the start. Her, I get. Even Alan Ruck’s character makes sense, and feels consistent.

Nick: Even the girls are defined. Well, at least Sasha and — number 6. Dang it, I’m going to call her Number 6 from now on.

Noel:  This isn’t House!

Nick: Well, it’s either Number 6 or Boo. Which is worse?

Noel: Boo is a really horrible name. On the upside, by avoiding any and all black people in the show (save for hunky male dancer in the bar), the show also avoids the impulse to name a black character Boo.

Nick: There was a decided lack of minorities. It was like a Mitt Romney campaign ad.

Noel: Harsh.

Nick: And, I’m guessing since Hubbell was able to drive from the coast to Vegas pretty often that he lived relatively close — like Southern California. No Latinos in Paradise?

Noel: This is something that was a bit surprising. GG was never flashy about its presence of minority characters — the Kims, Michele, and….um…I can’t think of anyone else, but at least there were some.

Nick: Gypsy?

Noel: True.  So, yeah, Paradise is pretty white. Which makes the name all the more unfortunate.

Nick: Oh, yeah, it does. I like the outcome of our talk is that AS-P is a racist. Or ABC Family is.

ABC Family: “We’re not racist! We showed that dumb Damon Wayans sit-com for a little bit! There’s black people in that!”

Everyone: “African-American, ABC Family.”

ABC Family: “D’oh!”

Noel: Yeah, I’m not familiar enough with their original programming to make a judgement call on that, but my perception of it is pretty white.

Nick: A lot of token characters. As Donald Glover might say, it looks like a Kanye West concert.

Noel: I hadn’t heard that line before. That is funny.

I suppose it does balance out in that a lot of their shows have strong, central female protagonists. Well, not “balance out” but the channel does do something that lots of other channels don’t.

Nick: True. Any idea how many of the showrunners on ABC Family shows are women?

Noel: All of their current originals, except for Melissa & Joey, were created by women Though Lying Game was developed for the channel by a man. But I’m not sure if they’re all showrunners. Most are listed as executive producers, though.

Nick: Fair enough. Final thoughts on Bunheads?

Noel: It’s very good, I think. Problems, sure, but it’s probably the most charming summer premiere show I’ve seen in a while.

Nick: Charming is a good word for it. It’s been a while since I think I’ve seen a show that I could describe as charming.

Noel: Just wait. Dallas starts on Wednesday. I’m sure it’ll be just as charming.

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