Maybe I made the mistake of having high expectations, which runs the obvious risk of being disappointed, and I am indeed disappointed. It’s not that Bunheads is bad. It’s pleasant enough, and I do like Sutton Foster. But as an avid Gilmore Girl fan, I had high hopes for Bunheads, and those hopes have been repeatedly dashed.
The two shows share a lot of similarities besides for writer/produce Amy Sherman-Palladino: Fast-talking dialogue; weird towns; quirky characters with weird names; many of the same actresses and actors; a pretty and likable protagonist who is a little bit lost but never loses her sense of humor.
And despite all these similarities, I find myself asking: “Why, oh why, have you failed me in this season of need when there is a desperate void on my DVR that cannot be filled by Pretty Little Liars?”
My answers below – in list form:
- No good love interests. In fact, Bunheads suffers from a glaring lack of good male characters. So far, we’ve met Melanie’s annoying brother Charlie, barely-there Josh, the cute guy at the Oyster Bar (whose name I can’t remember) and some other non-memorable Y chromosomes. Granted Michelle is supposed to be mourning over Hubbell, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have prospects. It took Luke and Lorelai four seasons to get together but we clung to the possibility from the very first episode. Bunheads, give me something (or someone) to cling to.
- Truly is not half as interesting as Kirk. Or Mrs. Kim. Or Michel. Or Sookie. Or Miss Patty. Or Babette. You get my drift. Gilmore Girls was filled with real, colorful, sometimes annoying, sometimes hysterical characters in the true sense of the world with stories of their own that grew and developed over time. Bunheads has Truly and… I got nothing. I see plenty of potential – Sasha’s parents, Boo’s mom, etc. – but we’re already in episode 7 and that potential is fading fast.
- Not enough Sasha time. Sasha is one of the most interesting, multi-dimensional characters on the show. She is the pretty, talented girl who seems to have it all except for all the things she doesn’t have. She can be perfectly obnoxious and snooty one minute and generous the next. She’s got some serious issues…but that’s a good thing. More Sasha time please!
- The characters have no long-term goals. From the very beginning of GG, we meet characters with dreams that define them and their stories. Lorelai is determined to prove she can make it on her own and open her own inn one day. Her desperate need to assert her independence (mostly from her parents) runs through every episode. Rory has her heart set on Harvard and is determined to prove her intellectual chops to her Chilton classmates. In Bunheads, Michelle wants…Actually, I have no idea what she wants and I’m not sure she knows either.
- Underwhelming actor deja vu. Hey, doesn’t that one-eyed plumber look familiar? Yup. That’s Zack (Todd Lowe) from GG, Lane’s bandmate and eventual boyfriend/husband. And Sam, the Sparkles shopkeeper? Yup again. That’s Gypsy (Rose Abdoo), the smart-aleck mechanic. And of course, there’s Kelly Bishop playing Fanny Flowers and matriarch Emily Gilmore in a previous TV life. The problem is not the actors but the new characters they are now embodying. Perhaps they will develop with time, but right now there Gilmore Girl characters are way more interesting than their Bunheads reincarnations.
- No villain. Not that GG had a real villain, but it had characters we loved to hate, or at least had serious complicated emotional relationships with like Bishop’s Emily Gilmore, Liza Weil’s Paris Geller and Michael Winters’ Taylor Doose.
- I miss Lorelai’s wardrobe.
- The absence of endearing (and smart) bad boys. This is a corollary to reason #1, but it deserves a numeral of its owesn. GG had Jess, Logan, and an adult version in the form of Jason Stiles. If Charlie is Bunhead’s attempt at a bad boy, he needs to do more than yell at Melanie and ignore Boo.
- Feels a little bit like Aaron Sorkin got carried away. I love the fast-paced dialogue and the occasional irrelevant digressions into pop-culture trivia, but sometimes, Bunheads is so determined to live up to its fast-paced reputation, it forgets to do anything else. It’s okay to slow down sometimes. It’s okay to be serious and pull on the heart strings sometimes. What made GG great was its ability to be quirky and charming and genuine and emotional — sometimes all at once and sometimes separately. Bunheads needs to tone down the quirkiness and ratchet up the genuine emotion.
- The music is just not as good.