Boob Tube: Bunheads
I spend a lot of time (too much time?) pondering the great thinkers of the television world. The people who build a brilliant concept out of nothing and give us groundbreaking shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friday Night Lights and Seinfeld.
Sometimes, these people are so extraordinary that they manage to pull this off twice. Joss Whedon followed up Buffy with Angel. Jason Katims went on to create Parenthood after Friday Night Lights. Curb Your Enthusiasm is so good, one wonders if Jerry Seinfeld was only holding Larry David back. (Just kidding, maybe…)
Despite being kind of corny, I would place Gilmore Girls firmly on that list of brilliant television. The sheer pace of the dialogue meant that there were probably more funny lines in a two-and-a-half-minute scene than in an entire episode of Two and a Half Men. (Ew, Two and a Half Men.) Also, Rory Gilmore joined a short list of mainstream teenage female protagonists (Joey Potter, Hermione Granger, anyone else?) who made it cool to be a smart girl.
With her new show Bunheads, Amy Sherman-Palladino (the creator of Gilmore Girls), is attempting to join those other great television producers by creating more than one awesome show.
Like Gilmore Girls, Bunheads’ basic premise is that the very worst choices have the very best consequences.
When Lorelai Gilmore got pregnant at 16, dropped out of high school and ran away from home, you might think she would end up working in a strip club, or maybe her daughter would. Instead, she ended up successfully running two businesses (not strip clubs) and her daughter went to an Ivey-league college. Not even MTV’s highly controversial reality hits 16 and pregnant and Teen Mom glorify teenage pregnancy as much as Gilmore Girls did.
Bunheads is even more sinister. A depressed Vegas showgirl (Sutton Foster) gets black-out drunk and is tricked by an older man, who happens to have been aggressively stalking her for a year, into getting married and moving with him to his sleepy, ocean-side town. Yikes! But does this turn into the Alfred Hitchcock plot it seems destined for? Nope, he just takes her home to his beautiful house where she gets to help his mother teach ballet at the dance school she runs.
While I can’t get on board with the message sent by either of those situations (seriously, wtf?), I do love the way Sherman-Palladino writes her characters. The banter on Bunheads is at least as quick and witty as it was on Gilmore Girls, and Sherman-Palladino brought with her another key Ingredient: Emily Gilmore. This time she is a Buddhist and a hoarder and Kelly Bishop plays her brilliantly, the undeniable highlight of the show so far.
The title suggests that plotlines will eventually focus on the teenage ballet students, which really is a shame. I’ve already seen Centre Stage, so I know how this particular story turns out. Boring.
With only two episodes having aired so far it is hard to tell if Sherman-Palladino will ever be comparable to the other multiple-hit-producing television greats, but, for now at least, I am watching.