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Bunheads – Did Michelle leave Paradise?

'Bunheads' provides a kickbutt summer season finale which brought together all existing storylines including Hubbell, Fanny and Michelle's burgeoning friendship, the dancing, the girls' maturity and Michelle's love life.

- Season 1, Episode 10 - "A Nutcracker in Paradise"

I’ve said it before, let me say it again, I am in love with Bunheads. I love the dancing. I love the acting. I love the writing. I love the characters. Sure, it started off rough, but it eventually evened out, culminating in this kickbutt summer season finale which brought together all existing storylines including Hubbell, Fanny and Michelle’s burgeoning friendship, the dancing, the girls’ maturity and Michelle’s love life.

I was so happy to see Hubbell return. I was pissed when they killed him off in the pilot. The minute Hubbell brought Michelle back to Paradise, he displayed a side different from that of hopeless, dopey stalker. He was a man in love who protected the woman he cared for. I always wondered why he doggedly pursued a woman who never returned his affections, over Truly, a seamstresss who clearly adored him. However, I eventually realized that, he, like so many other men, married his mother. Despite his love of romance, he needed a woman who needed him. It makes sense that as a dancer’s child, he’d fall in love with Michelle’s dancing first and her tough-yet-vulnerable personality second. Although she cancelled out 60-75% of the time, the 25-40% she didn’t gave him hope and the desire to describe her to his friends. It makes sense the free-spirited side of her that needed a protector called to him, as a man who already cared for and similarly protected his free-spirited mother. Is it creepy? Slightly. But, the way Alan Ruck played Hubbell secretly made me hope to meet a man who lived with his mother who could love me similarly. (OK, not really).

The tenderness Hubbell showed Michelle at their dinner, the love he displayed in their ocean-front bedroom, and the strength he demonstrated at their party, made me root for the couple. Would it have worked? Hell, yes. I would’ve loved to watch a series where they gradually grew together as Michelle struggled to work with Fanny and the girls. So, when Hubbell returned for the finale, it made sense. Even absent, his presence lingered in the show. And, once again, Alan Ruck showed his utter hotness and made me miss Hubbell’s tenderness.

Hubbell might’ve only made a temporary print in Michelle’s life, but it’s a mark that she’ll carry all the same, even longer than the pretty boy bartender who had “temporary love interest” stamped on his forehead. If they ever introduce any new love interests into Michelle’s life, it’ll have to be small and gradual. Alan Ruck makes such a big impression in this role, how could you forget the stranger who saved you and revolutionized your life?

Another relationship I loved this season included Fanny and Michelle’s burgeoning closeness. Considering their similarities, I hated the aimless vitrulence Fanny spewed at Michelle in the early episodes. Was Fanny mad that her son brought back a (practically/comparatively) childbride? Yes. Was she sad that the aforementioned son soon left the earth through a car accident? Yes. Clearly, she lost him twice over. All the same, the deliberately angry misunderstandings and bitter hatred she threw at Michelle felt unrealistic. However, in the finale, when Fanny broke off as she mentioned the bad luck that appeared in her life starting with her son’s death, it all clicked. This time, Fanny managed to see Michelle’s side while congizant of the loss of finance, students and school. Even without throwing barbs at Michelle, her anger felt more tangible and realistic. This is the Fanny I wanted to see. Not a woman who needlessly needles, but one who feels. Bravo, Amy Sherman-Palladino and writing staff. Bravo.

Let’s not forget the progression of our four core dancers: Boo, Ginny, Sasha and Melanie. In the early episodes, they felt too one-dimensional and cardboard like for my tastes. I basically just waited until Fanny/Michelle returned to the screen. However, recently, their individual personalities, strengths and weaknesses shone through. I like each character’s sarcasm, innocence, over zealousness, rebelliousness and snarkiness. They’re no longer dance mirrors of each other and I like that. I look forward to hearing more about their stories and lives.

In addition to the finale’s culminating ongoing plots, I must applaud the show’s choreographers and production staff. The revised Wall Street-Nutcracker boardroom dance scene? Sheer awesomeness. Michelle’s dreamscape visit with Hubbell, the shadow puppet play of the four girls and the broken dancing dolls? Mother-effin awesome.

Admittedly, I started watching Bunheads, not for Amy Sherman-Palladino, but because of my interest in dance. However, I continued to watch because of its writing, characters and acting. Good job, Amy Sherman-Palladino. And, good job, ABC Family.

Photo Credit: ABC Family

4 Responses to “Bunheads – Did Michelle leave Paradise?”

August 23, 2012 at 2:51 PM

I have to say that I loved this show since episode 1, the stories are nice and the characters are well written, I look forward the other half of this season.

August 25, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Agreed, let’s see what happens next!

August 25, 2012 at 1:32 PM

I do hope Bunheads returns, as scheduled. I loved the first 2 episodes but as the season wore on, I was less than impressed with the slapstick comedy and cabaret snapshots that “Michelle” engaged in the middle of the season. The last part of tis season became more about their characters and the finale was absolutely (choreography as well as plot) wonderful. I am looking forward to season 2 to see how Michelle works her way back into the fold.

August 25, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Agreed that they started to use Michelle more as comic relief post episode two. However, in the recent episodes that changed. Considering Michelle still owns the land and studio, she isn’t going anywhere. But, as Fanny always needs business help, no doubt she’ll eventually fall back to Michelle for assistance. Of course, Fanny could also undergo a sprained leg and need Michelle’s help or lose her students to Ojai. So many possibilities exist.

Side note to anyone: didn’t Hubbell also own a shoe store? What happened to that?

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