In a measure of full disclosure since it is every advertisement for the show, I have never seen an episode of Gilmore Girls (though it still was a bit disturbing to me to see a topless Rory Gilmore on Mad Men a couple weeks back). So I really cannot compare and contrast Amy Sherman-Palladino’s biggest show with her most recent one, Bunheads. Besides an awkward word and even more awkward title “and the line “so you wanna be a bunhead?” is the most awkward of the Pilot), a “bunhead” is the name of a ballerina (you know, because their hair is always in a bun to keep them from whipping their dance partners with a ponytail).
Before you stop reading and avoid the show because of its subject matter, Bunheads is the best new show you can watch this summer on basic cable or network television and may end up being the best new show of the entire year and that statement is coming from someone who arbores all those horrible dance shows that populate the channels. Bunheads is akin to Friday Night Lights in that you did not have to enjoy football or even know the difference between interception and an endzone to appreciate the show (and to continue the Friday Night Lights comparison, a Dillon resident even shows up on Bunheads).
The show follows an aging Vegas showgirl after a drunken night ends with her marrying her stalker (you know, a story as old as time) and moves to his sleepy coastal town appropriable called Paradise where his mother (who was the grandmother on Gilmore Girls) runs a dance studio next to their house. Naturally the small town, that does not even have a movie theater (but when you are on the ocean, do you really need to be inside) is quick to talk about the “stripper from Tahoe” even if they do not have all the fact.
Undoubtedly the showgirl will end up working at the mother’s studio where we meet the rest of the cast (all novices that have about five credits to their names combined). Early on they or confined to easy sterotypes, Boo, non-ballet shaped girl who will not let that stop her from her dreams of dancing, Ginnie, the, um, filled out dancer who will let them stop her, Sasha, the perfect ballerina type and knows it (you know there is going to be something dark in her background), and Melanie, the care-free one.
The witty script is rapid-fire dialogue with jokes where you do not even expect them. If there is a complaint is the relatively inexperienced actors sometime cannot keep up with everything (hopefully as they grow into these characters, this is elevated). And the ending goes to a place I am not sure where the show goes from there after what they set up in the first episode. Hopefully by the time the second episode ends, they can get back to what they did so well setting up in the first episode because if they do, it will be a very entertaining summer (sorry for being so vague but the ending is very big and even it is hard to say anything about it without being spoilery).
Bunheads airs Mondays at 9:00 on ABC Family. You can steam recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Bunheads on iTunes where you can currently download the Pilot for free before it even airs.