Bunheads' fate hung in the balance for months. Long after fall slates had been announced-- even for their own channel-- the folks at ABC Family kept us waiting, refusing to confirm its cancellation or the go-ahead for production of a second season. Eventually it seemed that the news could only be bad, and ultimately it was: Amy Sherman-Palladino's offbeat comedy about serious small-town ballerinas is and always will be a one-season wonder, destined for Netflix binges and much e-gnashing of teeth by those (including New Yorker tv critic Emily Nussbaum) who thought the show was taken from us all too soon.
Those who remember Sherman-Palladino's writing from the days of Gilmore Girls will find Bunheads comfortingly familiar, filled with breathless, clever monologues and an almost endless font of witty exchanges. It centers on an aging Las Vegas dancer named Michelle who impulsively marries a man only to have him die in a car crash the day after their wedding-- and then she discovers that he's willed everything he owns, including his mother's house and dance studio-- to her. MIchelle could be a parellel universe Lorelei Gilmore: she loves coffee and sweets and bantering with handsome men, and she's an imperfect but deeply loving mother figure to the tween girls who end up as her dance students.
The girls and their stories are the show's secondary focus. Ginny, Sascha, Melanie and Boo are a very sweet foursome, a group of dance-obsessed fifteen year olds who almost actually look fifteen. (The actresses who play them are eighteen to nineteen, as opposed to, say Teen Wolf's twenty eight year old Crystal Reed.) Their stories descend into occasional wishful surrealism-- when Sascha's parents divorce they let her stay in Paradise in a rented apartment-- but there's something refreshing about the relentless innocence and optimism of them. When Bunheads was cancelled the cast got together for one last dance, which demonstrates just how skilled the girls are-- both it and the season are well worth a watch.
And if you're hungry for more there's always the CW's Breaking Pointe, now in its second season, a reality show that follows a group of young dancers at Salt Lake City's Ballet West company. It mostly follows the tried and true formula of reality, focusing on romantic tribulations and career worries rather than the specifics of the dance world, but it's still a fun watch. Hopefully its successes will inspire more shows in the genre-- or maybe, just maybe, enough buzz and interest to bring Bunheads back.