Welcome, to 2WC’s weekend of television. I realize that we spend a lot of time on movies here. Heck, Friday’s are exclusively dedicated to film, but we are equal opportunists here, and also lovers of the small screen as well.
And in this, what many are calling, a golden age of television, (scripted, I cannot emphasize this enough, I’m talking about the scripted shows) you’re just as likely (if not more) to find great storytelling on TV as on the silver screen.
Then there’s ABC Family, who I have a bone to pick with.
I will try to do this without pointing out the sub-par, lowest common denominator, scandal-driven content you choose to continue to air on your channel (along with some other good content I admit), but it’s not going to be easy.
For those unaware, which given its cancellation is probably a lot of you, last week ABC Family axed their show Bunheads after only one season and after leaving their fans and cast in indecision limbo through spring and much of summer.
At this point, I realize its fate is sealed (barring a Kickstarter campaign of course) and bemoaning its passing is bound to be a fruitless effort, but this was a great show that wasn’t given a chance, so it at least deserves to be mourned now that it’s gone. So, today instead of writing a huge, long, angry rant about what a boneheaded move ABC Family made in cancelling it, I thought I’d take a moment to share the brilliance of this show.
Bunheads was the brainchild of the same woman who brought us Gilmore Girls, Amy Sherman-Palladino. If Kelly Bishop’s presence on the show didn’t tip you off to that then the fast-paced, super intelligent dialog (heavy on the pop-culture references) would certainly have done the trick. Also Paradise, California bears more than a passing resemblance to Stars Hollow, and much like the ladies of Gilmore Girls, this was a female empowering show without being overtly feminist.
In the blink of an eye Michelle Sims (the absolutely brilliant Sutton Foster) goes from Vegas showgirl to wife to widow to ballet teacher at her mother-in-law, Fanny’s, (Kelly Bishop) dance studio. What follows is a brilliant mix of drama, comedy, and musical theater.
Perhaps this show’s most impressive accomplishment is that it’s with teenage girls, but manages to not be all about sex, drugs, alcohol, and high school drama. Yes, they exist, they’re discussed, but these are hard-working intelligent girls. They make mistakes, and they learn from them. And there is balance (appropriate for a show about ballerinas), it’s not all about the teens, it’s not all about Michelle, it’s not all about Fanny, it’s a bigger story than that.
This is not Glee with dance, it’s far more focused on telling a larger story, a story that is also told through dance. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s poignant. It’s about being who you are, growing up (at any age), and working hard.
Oh and yes, they dance. Here are a few of their best:
…and the cutest brother and sister scene you’ll ever see:
And with that I bid thee adieu Bunheads. It was good while it lasted. You will be missed.
ABC Family you are on probation, it’s going to take more than a Harry Potter/Pixar weekend to fix this.
Okay, so that was a pretty melancholy kickoff for a television weekend, but fear not, tomorrow’s post will be much peppier. What’s that you ask? We could tell you, but then we couldn’t tease you. Check in with 2WC on Instagram later today for our first official post, and a clue about tomorrow’s blog post.
…and don’t just take my word for it:
“The strangest thing about watching Bunheads is catching the commercials for other ABC Family product. You’ll watch a perfectly funny or moving scene, and then you’ll see that the kids on Pretty Little Liars (which has been renewed) just set a barn on fire, or something, to cover up an affair. Good for them! But we’re in the middle of a fascinating show about art, female-to-female relationships, and the lessons people learn from failure. It would be nice if you people at ABC renewed that, too.”
New York Times: Bunheads Fans Hope for More
“…“Bunheads,” beyond being a charming and funny show, has the great merit of being unlike anything else on television at the moment. It doesn’t fit into any of the typical prime-time genres, though it has affinities with teenage comedy and family drama. It could also be grouped, very loosely, with the music show “Glee” and the theater show “Smash,” except that “Bunheads” gets at what performance really means in its characters’ lives rather than using it as a kind of artificial sweetener to stimulate the fantasies of the audience.”
Think Progress: ABC Family, Save “Bunheads”
“…Bunheads is something more. Its characters have pop culture addictions that rival Community‘s. It’s the unusual show about women that has good male characters—Carl, Michelle’s maybe-boyfriend bartender Godot, Michelle’s hilariously shiftless brother—but that hasn’t subverted its female characters to their development, creating an unusual degree of gender balance…And if ABC Family wants to level up on its brand, to be something more than the network where Shailene Woodley worked before she got famous, it should keep it up, and renew Bunheads.”
Another quality ABC Family fatality: