Network: ABC Family
First off is the standard warning that this particular review is based solely on the Pilot episode and nothing else and the show could go many different ways in subsequent episodes. With that in mind let’s move forward. I’d seen ads for this and really had zero interest in it at all. It seemed like a lame drama about a bunch of (pre?) teen girls in a ballerina school. Like the recently ended Make It or Break It, but with ballerinas. Immediately though ASP’s whip smart dialogue grabbed me and pulled me in. I should say upfront I was a huge Gilmore Girls fan.
If you were a Gilmore Girls fan, then you’ll see a lot of similarities here. Like a lot. I’m not sure if this will be toned down as the show takes on more of it’s own identity, but at least at the get-go they are trying to pull you back into a Stars Hollow-esque world. It’s really kinda ridiculous the lengths they seem to have gone through. I somehow feel like this is more the network and less ASP herself, although there are story elements that are very similar too. From the dialogue, to the background music, to the sleepy & quirky small town, to Kelly Bishop in a very similar role, to even having Michelle look quite a bit like Lorelei Gilmore. There is a lot in common at least at first.
But there’s a lot in there to enjoy, especially if you’ve had a Gilmore sized hole in your heart like I have. This might fill it. It could also wind up being a bad teen drama much like the aforementioned Make It or Break It and 90% of the other stuff on ABC Family right now. It could really go either way. Bad teen angst drama or cute story about a woman finding redemption and her place in the world. I hope for the redemption.
But there’s something I haven’t addressed yet that absolutely ruined my entire experience of this pilot. For reasons I won’t reveal here I don’t think it will be as big a deal in the series as a whole, but the entire set up to get Michelle to Paradise is really creepy. She’s basically being stalked by some creepy dude who then gets her drunk and marries her and drags her out of town the same night. Like huh? What? We’re supposed to care about this girl who drunkenly marries her creepy stalker? And Alan Ruck plays him kinda sweet but he’s still pretty creeptastic. It is really one of the weirder setups for a show ever. I kept wondering why after sobering up she didn’t say “what the hell” and leave. This really put a dent in my enjoyment of the show.
But overall there’s some charm here. The performances from Bishop and Foster are really great and worthy of tuning in for alone. The girls are also pretty good, though you don’t get a ton of time with them yet. There’s another girl, Ruck’s character’s ex who seems like she’ll be a great part of the ensemble but IMDb didn’t have her name listed. I did enjoy a lot of the scenes, even with the creepy factor looming over everything. I recommend checking this out if you like Gilmore Girls. You’ll feel back at home for a bit.
Bunheads premieres on ABC Family at 9PM Eastern on June 11th.