Episode 5: Money for Next Year
By: Carlos Uribe
Bunheads is about a dancer who moves to a sleepy coastal town and becomes a ballet teacher.
Bunheads enters it's fifth episode and yet it hasn't set up the premise of the episode yet. It took the show this long to merely get to the idea of making Michelle a ballet instructor. It was fine for the show to take it's sweet time in the first couple of episodes, but dragging out the beginning is really starting to impact the narrative momentum this show has had. It's not entirely clear how long it has been since Hubbel's death, but it appears that Michelle has been happily living unemployed. She pretty much spends her days exploring the weird town of Paradise and freaking out about some aspects of living there. Aspects such as finding a possum on her bed when she wakes up. It's a cliché for the big city girl to be afraid of animals, but Bunheads manages to make it work due to the charming protagonist. It still strains credibility that Michelle hasn't figured out that she's going to have to be a ballet teacher in order to pay for her property and such. I would have thought that Fanny might fight her on the idea of having a teacher but it's actually Fanny who gets the idea.
It's also revealed that only nine out of the seventy-five children bother to pay for the dance classes. Fanny has essentially been teaching kids for free. This wasn't a problem when Hubbel was alive, since he had a large income, but his bank account isn't going to last forever. Michelle tries to get all the families to pay, but apparently Paradise families are really cheap. Just about every parent has to be apologized to and she finds out that most families have a deal with Fanny. The idea is that Michelle will teach and this will allow the dance school to have more students. In theory, these new students would actually pay and there would be significant income to cover the costs. Considering how Fanny doesn't have a good financial system and that this is her idea, I'm not entirely sure that Michelle becoming a dance teacher will solve their current financial situation. There are still a large amount of families who are getting the dance lessons for free, and they should still be forced to require to eventually pay.
While the premise of the show has yet to be established, the main student characters are busy have their own plots. The episode largely focuses on my favorite of the characters, Boo. She has just gotten a job as a waitress. When her friends show up to support her, they notice that some hot bartender has returned and they spend the episode largely staring at him. Boo is the only one to actually get close to him, thanks to a situation at work. The two are becoming close friends and the show might decide to have something more happen. It's a pretty good sub-plot that continued to develop the character of Boo, but it should give Ginny and Melanie more to do in future episodes. The two continue to blend together and not be distinct characters. On a show with a lot of distinct characters, this is a small problem for the show.
This was a relatively good episode, as all episodes of Bunheads are, but the series needs to establish the premise so it can actually begin the series. This is all set-up and it's starting to impact the show's momentum. I'm not entirely sure why the show felt the need to delay Michelle becoming a teacher yet another episode, but it can't be delaying for much longer. Bunheads is so far a good series, but it's slow set-up is starting to affect the quality of the episode.