(fubo/Hulu/tubi/VOD) Yes, everyone’s celebrating Amy Sherman-Palladino and THE MARVELOUS MRS MAISEL now, but everyone outside of my wife and maybe a few friends, had largely forgotten her once GILMORE GIRLS went off the air in 2006.
Enter 2012: I vividly remember walking with some folks through a mall to catch a Bollywood film in the Chicago suburbs, and there was a BUNHEADS poster front-and-center between us and the theater, and one dude I was attending the screening with lambasted the poster; ridiculed it. I was a coward, half-heartedly chuckling at his jokes, but inwardly very angry.
It hadn’t aired yet and yes, GILMORE GIRLS has -a lot- of issues, I won’t deny that (especially the Netflix mini — yikes) but Amy Sherman-Palladino has done far more good than harm. And this dude was mocking a poster because it dared to promote a TV show about girls & dance, -while- we were heading to see a frickin’ Bollywood film.
Setting that aside: BUNHEADS is the story of failed ballerina/current Vegas showgirl Michelle Simms (Broadway star Sutton Foster who you may know her better as the lead in YOUNGER, and I really had hoped I’d be watching her on-stage with Hugh Jackman in THE MUSIC MAN right now, but so it goes) who drunkenly latches onto Alan Ruck one night, marries him, moves to a sleepy California town, and then Ruck dies. Simms then falls into teaching at Ruck’s mother-in-law’s (played by GILMORE GIRLS’ Kelly Bishop) dance studio.
While Michelle has a fair amount of drama, the show is far more concerned with the stakes regarding the girls she’s mentoring, and really, it’s about their stories and experiences, and how Michelle helps to guide them through life, despite being a bit of a fuck-up.
It’s quintessential Sherman-Palladino work: sweet, smart, overly verbose, and extremely well-produced (albeit, yes, extremely white). The following numbers below should sell you on the show alone. Why yes, I’ll take a musical dance number inspired by Tom Waits’ Mule Variations!
If you’re a sound nerd, I love how they mic the floors (see Dance Routines Part 2, ~1:30), so you hear every landing, every hit, every slap. I’m hard-pressed to think of a show that was as aurally tactile as this.
If you’re a cinematography nerd, goddamn, the cheats they employed to ensure that the mirrors were always seen, but never the cameras? Blows my mind. And the China Balls!
BUNHEADS had a little something for everyone, and it’s a crime how ABC Family buried it. I’m hoping Amy Sherman-Palladino will revisit it in the future although, granted they did film a farewell dance as a way to give closure, I’d still love to see a reunion special.