Can a "Gilmore Girls" Fangirl Fall in Love with "Bunheads?"

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Last month, I read a YA novel called Bunheads and discussed it briefly with my partner who mentioned that there was going to be a Bunheads TV show. I knew this, and whispered to myself, "created by Amy Sherman-Palladino (ASP)" -- and I'm pretty sure I sighed, too. Any Gilmore Girls (GG) fan will understand this. I miss Gilmore Girls so much that I'm dying for a new ASP vehicle that is smart and snappy and full of pop-culture fun. I'm also terrified to watch an ASP show, because I know it will let me down. (The Return of Jezebel James, anyone?)

Side note: While I do recommend the Bunheads YA novel, it is not related to the new TV show, except that it is about ballet and the TV show is, in part, about ballet.

I tried to push ABC Family's Bunheads from my head, entirely. I wasn't willing to risk it. I don't watch much TV and I don't even have a decent cable package anymore, having replaced my cable TV bill with a Roku, Netflix and Amazon Prime instant video. I thought I'd just pretend Bunheads did not exist and go about my business.

Damn Amy Sherman-Palladino for casting Kelly Bishop in a lead role. If it weren't for that bit of casting brilliance, I never would have watched Bunheads.

Bunheads Sutton Foster Kelly Bishop
Image: ABC Family.

That's also when the trouble started -- my lack of cable TV meant that I was going to have to stream the show, which would not normally seem like a problem -- but ABC Family only provides one episode and I missed the season premiere. Gah! What to do, what to do?

I was pretty sure I could pay for the episode on iTunes, but before doing that, I decided I'd just watch episode two and see if it was worth it. (See, even with Kelly Bishop, I was not willing to commit myself to believing ASP could do it again.) I was about two minutes into the episode and I was in love. Good Gilmore Girl feelings washed over me, and I sighed happily as I watched Kelly Bishop, aka Fanny, planning a funeral in not quite Emily Gilmore fashion -- but with just enough Emily Gilmore-ness that I felt right at home. So I headed over to iTunes to go back and watch the first episode, thrilled to find it free and not the $2.99 I expected to pay.

And I'm so glad I watched it, for one reason and one reason only: Kelly Bishop.

That's really all I need to say and you will understand. Or if you don't, this little paragraph from the TV Without Pity recap of the premiere episode should make you understand:

In the backyard of Hubbell's house is a dance studio and in that dance studio is a small class of teens and teaching those teens is Hubbell's mother, Madame Fanny. And just like you were eventually able to forget Kelly Bishop was the mom in Dirty Dancing -- and the show survives, God willing -- I bet you'll forget she once played Emily Gilmore too. The price of presence is lingering presence, and damn does she have presence, so it's okay if you can't shake it off all at once, but I love what she's doing here.

It's true. It is very true. Kelly Bishop has presence, and thank you, Amy Sherman-Palladino and ABC Family, for recognizing it and bringing her back into our lives again. There are so few roles for women of a certain age, and it's refreshing to see ABC Family take a chance like this.

Beyond Kelly Bishop, there's a lot for a Gilmore fan to love about Bunheads.

The pop culture references are lurking, as they should be. Only ASP would name a character Hubbell (see: The Way We Were). As are the appearances by former Gilmore Girls cast members -- in the premiere, we see Gypsy in a duck-print dress and a ton of makeup and in the second episode we've got Mitchum Huntzberger as a salty, surfer dude, restaurant/bar owner. (He can't be the Luke character, but will his dive be the new Luke's? Nope, I can't help but make GG comparisons. It's inevitable.) I am dying to see every single Gilmore cast member make an appearance on Bunheads. Take a minute to think about what that would look like. Both characters we have seen so far are completely different from their roles on GG. So what role would Paris take if she appeared on Bunheads? How about Miss Patty? Or Mrs. Kim? How about Luke, Lorelai and Rory? Kirk... oh, imagine Kirk... The possibilities, they are enough to keep a Gilmore Girls fan watching season after season, don't you think?

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