Uh… I don’t know if I want to roll my eyes or laugh in astonishment. After the last episode’s risky yet intriguing series premiere hook — the death of a supposed lead role, Hubbel — the show was destined for some really tangible plot proceedings, some of which played out as one would expect. But for this episode to eerily parallel its predecessor in terms of plot points AND twist seems like a cop-out.
Or maybe because its so damn fresh on my mind. Prior to the episode’s ending, I was pleasantly admiring what it had to offer. With Hubbel abruptly cleaved from the situation, Michelle and Fanny are left with no focal point to hypothetically cat-fight over. Fanny begins planning the world’s most Western-influenced Buddhist funeral, complete with tarts, a bulging guest list, a sitar player named Robbie, matching napkins and capes, and of course custom meditation chants: “Ah, finally, a chance to use my high school Tibetan,” nervously jokes one her friends.
She envelops herself in this flippant affair clearly trying to avoid the fact her son is dead, while Michelle is left to do nothing, confounded at her unlucky circumstances. She, in response, does very little for the first half of the episode, merely watching Fanny wrap herself in the minutiae of planning and trying to avoid Truly, Hubbel’s ex-girlfriend who kinda sorta killed him via car accident. Michelle also adorns this numbingly frank demeanor when permitted to speak in the latter half that actually seemed cool and appropriate, like “yep, of course the one time I try to get right with a guy, he up and dies!”
Speaking of a numbingly frank demeanor, the snooty leader of the ballerina quad, hereby named “Snooki” for lack of knowing her actual name, treats the death as any bored teenager would – with a glowing opportunism. She rounds up the other girls from their respective classes under the notion that their “dear dance teacher’s heart has been broken” while they then catch some awful-sounding Mark Wahlberg action flick. Boo, the body-conscious and seemingly socially conscious member, immediately becomes the foil, waging war against Snooki’s petty and morally bankrupt scheming.
To be honest, this side-story was the least interesting part of the whole thing, but Palladino’s billion-word-per-minute flavor of repartee kept the show at a brisk pace, even if characters yapped on about the nuance of a stare. The best writing comes when Michelle finally breaks Fanny down, sending missive after missive of faulty memorial planning onto the flimsy barricade surrounding her emotions. Seeing Fanny actually emote, rather than callously react or judge, has an odd disarming quality to it. Of course she doesn’t know how to act; the only person she loved was taken away from her, and left some ungainly chatterbox in his place.
Thankfully the chatterbox quickly made amends, thanks to Snooki’s sudden change of heart when seeing her fallen dance instructor sobbing on the couch. The dance she and her fellow ballerini (is ballerina a Latin noun? it is now.) performed for Fanny and her closest friends totally justified the new Disney channel model of multi-faceted actors. To a gruff and earnest Tom Waits tune, they gracefully eulogized Hubbel, and also reminded us about the whole dancing pinpoint of the show. Its honestly great to have a group of young actors who can not only portray roles with a known ease and perform an ancillary art without pop sentiments, but who never seem desperate to show off.
And yeah, the final twist. Michelle and Fanny get back to being super-cool-alcohol-loosened buddies again, and then, while greeting one of Hubbel’s friends, she discovers that she gets his entire estate, including the house and the studio. Eh I guess that seems plausible but really? He had enough time in the last episode’s 24-hour span to draw up a will and such? Bullshit bro. A lot of proper entertainment blogs have delegated this show into some summer wish fulfillment/easygoing romp, and if not for the smarmy dialogue and the theatre-style acting (mostly due to the abundance of leg warmers), I would wholeheartedly agree.
Bunheads, in its current projection, seems like a show that works the nerves of its characters, letting them fray, sizzle, and cool off before agitating them again with some new conflict, although the conflict seems highly contrived. But whatevs, I enjoy the Sutton Foster/Kelly Bishop dynamic, and those four nameless dancers (seriously, they just stare each other down and spout declarative statements sans names! I need to know their names!) are some of the most competent child actors on television which says a lot. I did enjoy the episode, albeit feeling jipped, and will check out the next episode where Michelle presumably finds out she’s pregnant or something.
Oh no… wait… they couldn’t do that could they?!? FUTURE HUBBEL SPAWN????
I watched this new show called “Bunheads” last night on a sketchy website which shall not be named. Since the themes were pretty feminine and non-manly, figured that I get it out in the open unless people find out about it later on when I run for public office or something.
Overall, the show is decent. Its about a showgirl named Michelle who hates her job because of her flat chest size (big-breasted dancers are allowed to display, and therefore get more money), and her rat-infested apartment. Ironically, the only excitement she can get in Las Vegas is by avoiding the eager yet annoying advances of Hubble, a fourtysomething who snakes his way into the dressing room whenever he’s in town. Her friends tease here for hating a guy who seems nice, but in her eyes, Hubble’s a scrub and she don’t want none.
After a failed audition for the famed “Chicago” cabaret, she agrees to spend some of Hubble’s time on a date- while downing tons of alcohol. Determined to win her heart, he tells her of the place he lives, a town called Paradise with a house built at the edge of the ocean. Normally, this is where our protagonist screams rape and douses him in pepper spray, but in vino veritas. She takes him on his offer, freakin’ marries him at a drive-through cathedral, and moves to his house.
So, up to that point, I didn’t dislike the show, but I wasn’t digging it either. Since the show’s producer was the same lady who created “Gilmore Girls,” most of the dialogue comes out in this catty repartee, sort of like Busta Rhymes without the rhyme and on half the speed. But the show remained on that topic of romance and love which, although not overt and vomit-inducing, was still not able to keep me beyond the first episode.
What at least guarantees a viewing of the second episode deals with Hubble’s cantankerous hag of a mother and the children she trains in ballet. Long story short- He lives with his mom. Blech. And Michelle was nearly ready to rescind all hope for the dude, especially since her new mother-in-law, Fanny, did not particularly greet with the grace of a swan; more like the grace of a woodchipper.
Anyways, the four main teenage girls that Fanny teaches sum up nature’s usual female stereotypes: the biotch, the biotch’s accomplice, the oblivious one, and the body conscious chick on the verge of an eating disorder (seriously? the chick with the nicest thighs gets disowned? white people, why?). Michelle finds them with a making idle talk about some scholarship audition in between swigs of stolen beer. She then decided to impart some knowledge to the young’ns by conducting one for them.
It was her most human moment of the show, as she gave these girls a break from the worthless drama that reigns supreme in their lives while also giving herself a break from the newfound drama of her scandalous marriage. In the end, the body conscious chick has great confidence in herself, although decidedly temporary, and Fanny eases up on Michelle when she realizes that she did in fact know how to dance and was not a Vegas hooker as she immediately suspected.
The twist that takes place after this feel-good moment seemed pretty risky for a new relationship drama, especially on on ABC Family, but if the writers and the actors make it work, and the show manages to inject more organic humor into the show, I might have something to watch on that channel. To be honest though, “Secret Life” has that really hot chick in it, but the hell with cringing through fabricated suburbian baby mama drama for that. Give me the makings of an interesting story.
I will now write about Breaking Bad in another post to redeem myself.
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