How Realistic Is "Bunheads"?
As major dance nerds with chronic tendonitis and more warmup overalls than anyone technically "needs," we're really excited about "Bunheads," the new show on ABC from the producers of "Gilmore Girls" (if you missed it, you can watch the first episode here). "Bunheads" stars Sutton Foster as Michelle, a Vegas showgirl who spontaneously marries her longtime admirer, Hubble, played by Alan Ruck, and moves in with him and his mom, a former dancer who now owns her own school. Her students include Sasha, the talented queen bee with a bad attitude; Melanie, who doesn't have much of a character so far; Ginny, who's stressed about her big boobs; and Boo, who's stressed about her weight. All four girls can act, Foster is funny and charming, and Ruck was Cameron Frye in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," therefore we will always love him.
But to be honest, we don't really care about the plot or the acting. We're here for the ballet.
We had our fingers crossed for a realistic show full of trained dancers and inside jokes. Does the show deliver? Kind of. Here's what happens, and how realistic it is.
What happens: Michelle and her friend talk on stage during a performance.
Realistic? NO. Can you even imagine doing this? Your teacher would run out from the wings and decapitate you on the spot, right?
What happens: The dancers are wearing whatever they please during class, from Snoopy leotards to garbage shorts.
Realistic? Sure. Relaxed teachers let the more advanced girls choose their own clothes for class.
What happens: The piano is right in the front of the studio.
Realistic? Maybe. This is a really weird place to put a piano, as it blocks the dancers' view of themselves, but if there were no other spot for it...sure, okay.
What happens: The teacher refers to Ginny's butt as her "po po."
Realistic? Extremely! If there's one thing ballet teachers love, it's using disturbing euphemisms to refer to your nether regions.
What happens: At the end of a combination, the teacher says "relax," and the girls collapse without closing to fifth and pliéing.
Realistic? Nooooooo. You don't just fall over in a heap from passé. You finish in a beautiful fifth, like a human being.
What happens: Barre is over, but no one is sweating.
Realistic? Uh, no. By this point in class, most people should look like they just stepped out of the shower.
What happens: The girls talk about who's inflexible, who can jump, and who has to wear two bras under her leotard.
Realistic? I think I had this exact conversation yesterday.
What happens: The teacher says that if they don't find a missing tutu, they'll have to cut Clara from The Nutcracker.
Realistic? Of course not. First of all, you'd never cut a character because of a costume problem. Second, Clara doesn't wear a tutu, she wears a nightgown (*snorts, pushes glasses up nose*).
What happens: We learn that the "head of the Joffrey School of Ballet" will visit the school to hold auditions.
Realistic? Nope. You go to the Joffrey; the Joffrey doesn't come to you.
What happens: Characters refer to "the Joffrey summer program."
Realistic? No. It's a summer intensive, not a summer program. Gosh!!
What happens: Boo walks outside, into nature, wearing her ballet slippers.
Realistic? Again, can you even imagine?
What happens: Michelle suggests the girls put together flashy audition outfits, like red unitards with a gold belt.
Realistic? Pink tights, pink shoes, black leotard. Mayyyybe a colored leotard, if you want to get really wild. That's the one and only plausible summer intensive audition outfit.
What happens: Michelle preps the girls for their Joffrey audition by running them through a jazzy number.
Realistic? This is an odd scene. The point seems to be that Sasha freezes up and/or refuses to try when she's not comfortable. But we agree with her: "next week's audition is ballet, with toe shoes. It's totally different."
What happens: Michelle signals "double turn" by tapping her fists together.
Realistic? Everyone knows you signal a double turn by rotating your index finger. (Right?)
What happens: We learn that Michelle was in the ABT corps at age 17.
Realistic? Sutton Foster is one of the most gifted musical theater artists of her generation, but a former ABT dancer? Hahahahaha. If she danced with ABT, I'm Gelsey Kirkland.
What happens: The girls' arms are flopping all over the place.
Realistic? I just wanted to complain about this. Their arms look terrible, all snaky and mannered, like they were trained in the 19th century.
We realize the writers need to tell a story, and that may prevent them from being 100% true to ballet all the time. But we hope to see more complaining about turnout, and fewer mentions of red unitards.
Did you watch "Bunheads"? What did you think? Did we miss anything? Does your teacher tap her fists to signal a double turn??
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