It truly is a shame when a great TV show flies totally under the radar. Bunheads is threatening to do exactly that, a fabulously written, subtly acted and terrifically paced show that is currently being horrifically overlooked when it comes to ratings.
Barely registering an audience of over a million, the prognosis for the show isn’t looking the rosiest in the currently rating obsessed world of American TV. Despite this though, the critical praise keeps coming in, with the show appearing on Best of Year lists in both The New Yorker and The AV Club as well as winning the ‘Best Surprise’ category in our roundup of the best American TV shows of 2012.
The show itself focuses on a small town ballet studio, a showgirl who ends up living there, her mother-in-law who owns it a handful of their students. I know what you’re thinking. That sounds boring and dull. The kicker is though that Bunheads is so much more entertaining than it has any right to be at all.
The ballet is a mere backdrop and an excuse to enter into the lives of these fantastically enjoyable and eccentric, yet surprisingly realistic characters.It’s not hard hitting, it’s not genre re-defining and it won’t be beating Breaking Bad when it comes to dramatic stakes, but Bunheads never tries to be anything more than it is. This is a show that also manages to tread the line between quirk and annoyance, making the show as delightfully unique an experience as a handmade and slightly wonkily frosted cake.
While the cast, which is full of relative unknowns and first time performers, displays brilliant strength and depth, they aren’t the true star of Bunheads. That honour goes to Amy Sherman-Palladino, the show’s creator and chief writer.
While she’s been highly regarded for a long, long time within the critical community, she’s not consistently been in the TV world for more than six years since the finale of her much loved Gilmore Girls. While one could be forgiven for being a little ring rusty, but she doesn’t need the excuses, as from the very first conversation of the very first episode, the show is dependably rip-tickling.
Making brilliant dialogue that centres on humus and the ridiculousness of land laws might be hard for many, but its child’s play to Sherman-Palladino, as every episode is an absolutely light-hearted delight to watch. While Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom incredibly pervasive voice was one of the show’s major problems, Bunheads does machinegun dialogue swapping far, far better with much less sneer in its voice.
Fun, engrossing and utterly enjoyable throughout, its lack of ratings is truly a shame and such a poor reward for the incredibly talented Sherman-Palladino. This will surely see it be condemned to never legitimately see the shores of the UK, a fate that might mean that one of the better American shows of the last year may never outside of a small group of dedicated fans. Bunheads deserves far, far better.
Bunheads airs Tuesdays on ABC Family in America.