Yes, we must admit that the first few minutes of Bunheads were a little iffy (Michelle married her stalker! And we're supposed to be OK with that?). But by the end of the first episode, the ABC Family series hit its groove and started focusing on what it does best: heartfelt comedy, drama and dance! Still not convinced? Here are five reasons to give the fledgling series a chance — or at least a spot on your DVR queue.
1. Nostalgia: Everyone's saying Bunheads is Gilmore Girls 2.0, and we find nothing wrong with that! Ever since we said goodbye to Star's Hollow five years ago, there hasn't been another show to fill the void Lorelei and Rory's departure left in our hearts. Enter Bunheads. Set in Paradise, an isolated, small town full of quirky characters, Bunheads follows fast-talking Michelle (Sutton Foster) and her troubled relationship with her disapproving mother-in-law Fanny (Kelly Bishop, who portrayed Gilmore Girls' disapproving grandmother Emily Gilmore). Michelle soon begins acting as a fun, non-traditional mentor to a group of adolescent girls. Sound familiar? If the plot alone isn't reminiscent enough for you, the music surely seal the deal. The melodic "La-La's" of Gilmore Girl's music composer Sam Phillips are back, returning viewers to series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino's glory days. Though sadly, there hasn't been a sign of a traveling troubadour in Paradise just yet...
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2. Sutton Foster: Before the series premiered, it was hard to imagine this Broadway darling taking up the quick Sherman-Palladino conversational style made famous by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, but Foster surprised us all with the ease in which she slipped into the snappy banter. Her character Michelle is a little more sarcastic than Lorelei, but maintains the same earnest awkwardness. Lines that could easily sound cheesy, come out charming when Michelle can't help but speak her thoughts out loud. "You live with your mother like a serial killer?" she quips in front of her new husband Hubble (Alan Ruck) and Fanny, the mother in question. Only problem with Foster: She needs to remember she's not on Broadway anymore and keep those exaggerated theater expressions to a minimum.
3. Dialogue: It wouldn't be a Sherman-Palladino dramedy without characters talking in double-time and Bunheads doesn't disappoint. While the dialogue isn't the most believable (surprise, surprise), it remains as charming and entertaining as always. Plus, the series is full of delightful pop culture references, including a great nod to Dirty Dancing in which Bishop had a starring role. Best line of the season so far: Michelle's retort to her prostitute neighbor's warning not to scare away her "guests": "As long as my face doesn't look like Chris Hanson, you're fine."
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4. The Relationships: Foster might be the star, but what really drives the show along are Michelle's developing relationships with the other characters. Bishop is wonderful once again as the acerbic mom, but unlike Emily Gilmore, Fanny has a bit of eclectic kookiness to her that's quite refreshing (Dalai Lama cocktail napkins for a wake — Who thinks of that?). Truly, played by Friday Night Lights scene-stealer extraordinaire Stacey Oristano, seems slated to be the Sookie to Michelle's Lorelei. That is, if she can get over the fact Michelle married her one true love. The four advanced ballerinas from Fanny's class are like mini Rorys, ready to be shaped and molded by Michelle's off-beat influence. It should be quite interesting to watch the way Michelle's sudden appearance in Paradise affects these women's lives over the course of the season.
5. What else are you going to watch? To be honest, there isn't a lot of TV to choose from on a Monday summer night. Compared to a lot of shows currently on air, Bunheads is genuinely Emmy-worthy. Though previews make it seem almost painfully heartwarming, Bunheads can also get serious — fast (as anyone who saw the premiere can tell you). The fact that it's on ABC Family might be a huge turn-off for a lot of viewers, but unlike most of the station's offerings, Bunheads isn't about teenagers with dark secrets. It's about a grown woman negotiating what she once expected of her life with what others now expect of her. So if you're a little of weary of relying on Gordon Ramsay to kick off your week, Bunheads might just be the answer to your case of the Mondays.
Do you think you'll give Bunheads a chance?