Watch Bunheads – A Nutcracker in Paradise Online S01E10

A Nutcracker in Paradise

Bunheads - A Nutcracker in Paradise Online S01E10 It’s Bunheads summer finale! The Nutcracker performance is about to go on but with Michelle’s luck something is going to go down. A great finale can wipe away the sour taste of an otherwise lacking season and give a show the type of momentum needed to make a creative jump on a more permanent basis. Unfortunately, in the case of Bunheads, its finale was more than a bit underwhelming.

On its own, “A Nutcracker in Paradise” was pretty terrific. There have been times when the show’s attempts at comedy have felt strained, but nearly every joke and device landed perfectly here, whether it was the non-stop motion of The Ringer, Boo nearly going too far in mortifying herself for Carl, Fanny forcing the one pair of African-American dancers(*) to try one style after another or, in a hilarious (and well-foreshadowed) setpiece, Michelle accidentally macing all the dancers with the pretty mace from her Zombie Apocalypse Vegas Slut Bag, then trying to douse them all with water.

From the strangely S&M brilliance of Michelle’s “Rat Dance” to Boo’s public announcement that Carl is her Fred Astaire, the bits that moved characters forward hit all the right notes. Melanie and Ginny have what can only be described as a lovers’ quarrel, even though it has to do with a boy. Michelle brings Sasha back into the fold in a way that allowed Fanny to accept her return without compromise. And Sasha seems to have grown up some in the process — even attracting the interest of a boy who seems to be searching for his identity as haphazardly as she is.

What does feel right, though, is the relationships she’s forged with the other characters. Sasha pulls out a literal Dead Poets Society “O Captain My Captain” routine as Michelle contemplates disappearing, and Hubbell’s kindest ghost-advice involves pointing out that Fanny always wanted a daughter. As loathsome as the dated ’90s references tend to be — especially with straight rip-off, copy-of-a-copy stuff like this — there’s still a bit of an emotional payoff when you see how the characters find new ways to fit together.

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Watch Bunheads – Better Luck Next Year Online S01E04

Better Luck Next Year

Bunheads - Better Luck Next Year Online S01E04If you promise not to waterboard the salads (and to cut off the crusts because it just looks cuter) you can come on in to read this Bunheads review of “Better Luck Next Year.” A show’s first bad episode isn’t exactly the end of the world. Or, well, it doesn’t have to be. Rare is the series that has it completely together from the word go, so there’s bound to be some growing pains and missteps while it’s still figuring things (and itself) out. And as long as they happen early enough and the show improves following a bad move, you can easily write them off as a product of new beginnings and growing into the world of the show. In the case of Bunheads, though, its first bad episode has me feeling a bit less confident than I was before about the potential of the show to blossom.

The episode opens with some moving guys bringing Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster) all her stuff from Las Vegas. Fanny Flowers (Kelly Bishop) is completely oblivious to Michelle being robbed in reverse (her landlord sent her a bunch of furniture that wasn’t actually hers) as she directs some handymen to fix things for the auditions. Finally she figures out what’s going on and tells Michelle to clear everything out from the driveway immediately. Michelle asks if there are any nooks and crannies where she can store her begrudgingly inherited furniture, and Fanny says absolutely not.

Michelle explores her hot fridge and gas stove. Oh wait, now she has gas leaking into her cramped guest house. Well, who doesn’t want to sleep with all the windows and doors open at night, right? Later that night Fanny sneaks into Michelle’s house while she’s asleep. Your mother-in-law standing over you is not the best way to wake up, in my opinion. Apparently, Fanny has chosen to unpack and organize Michelle’s storage shed of a house. She only needs sleep for a couple of hours a day and finds the best time to do things is at night. Fanny is so glad to finally have someone to talk to in the middle of the night. Michelle’s version of passive aggressive agreeing is to pass out. I like her methods.

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Watch Bunheads – Inherit the Wind Online S01E03

Inherit the Wind

Bunheads - Inherit the Wind Online S01E03Tonight’s episode, “Inherit the Wind” seemed interested with the figurative connotations of roots, if not, occasionally, the literal. I was glad to finally see more about Melanie. We learned two important things in this episode: she has a brother (that Boo likes) and she’s into photography (or why else would she have had such a good camera, right?). We can also tell she’s a supportive, friendly, clever friend. All in all, she’s the friend we all die to have. (Especially when the package deal involves an attractive older brother.)

Terrified by the stresses of home ownership — and the underlying concept of putting down roots anywhere, ever — Michelle takes Hubbell’s Mustang out for a ride, runs afoul of more quirky-as-fuck small-town nonsense, and eventually meets a rich dude with the tackiest faux-finished piece-a-crap Tuscan Sunrise McMansion you ever did see. The mosaic-tile fireplace and gigantor telescope alone are like a Target barfed a Pier One; I am not even exaggerating and it’s not even really the kind of thing I generally notice, but Jesus.

Michelle says she isn’t going to kick Fanny out of the house. The will also includes a provision that Fanny should keep running her dance studio. (We suspect, now that Fanny is backed into a corner where this is her only terrain, it’s about to become even more of a power-hungry battle turf.) Michelle pours some shots of whiskey for them, but Fanny just walks away. Michelle takes them both. We’re still curious about how much, exactly, this rich businessman was worth since we have no idea yet what line of business Hubbell was actually in. Rare collectibles? He did seem like he might have a storage unit somewhere stacked with Beanie Babies and Real Dolls.

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Watch Bunheads – For Fanny Online S01E02

For Fanny

Bunheads - For Fanny Online S01E02Bunheads is the latest show from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. The show premiered last week, so let’s quickly recap the pilot: Broadway veteran Sutton Foster plays Michelle Simms, a thirtysomething Vegas showgirl and former ballerina with aspirations deferred by the difficulty an older dancer faces in getting work on the legitimate stage. She sleeps during the day, and she drinks at night after shows, while putting off the advances of the kind, unrelentingly sweet Hubbell Flowers, a middle-aged paramour with a long-standing crush on Michelle. After a disastrous audition, Michelle despairs of her dead-end life, goes out to dinner with Hubbell, gets rip-roaringly drunk, and marries him in a quickie ceremony.

She moves with him to his idyllic, coastal small town called Paradise (which, if you’ve ever seen Gilmore Girls, is basically Stars Hollow with an ocean view) where she gets acquainted with a varied cast of quirky archetypes: Hubbell’s mother, an overbearing ballet instructor named Fanny (played by Kelly “Emily Gilmore” Bishop); she also must contend with Hubbell’s eccentric, jealous ex-girlfriend, Truly, a master seamstress who owns the local boutique and is equal parts quirky and passive-aggressive. Also among the townsfolk are four of Fanny’s students at the Paradise Dance Academy, with whom Michelle has an impromptu bonding session: stuck-up clique-leader Sasha, ditsy Melanie, image-conscious Ginny, and shy, oddball Boo.

We pick up immediately where we left off, which is somewhat surprising since death is a hard thing to tackle on a family-oriented prime-time show. But via song, symbolism and a sleepless-night montage, we’re gonna go ahead and tackle this tragedy head-on. On the night that Hubbell gets into his car accident, Michelle pines for her poor dead hubby as if they’ve been married more than a day, looking at extremely recent wedding photos and going through his possessions. She watches the sun come up on a new day – see, symbolism? And here’s a new title sequence promising to hustle us through the death drama and back into the blistering fun of tween ballerina angst.

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