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Bunheads 1.04 "Better Luck Next Year!" Review

A show's first bad episode isn't exactly the end of the world. Or, well, it doesn't have to be. Rare is the series that has it completely together from the word go, so there's bound to be some growing pains and missteps while it's still figuring things (and itself) out. And as long as they happen early enough and the show improves following a bad move, you can easily write them off as a product of new beginnings and growing into the world of the show. In the case of Bunheads, though, its first bad episode has me feeling a bit less confident than I was before about the potential of the show to blossom.

Do I think "Better Luck Next Year!" was awful? Not particularly. It had enough good moments, mostly Michelle-related, that held my attention and made me laugh/feel, which is a testament to the range and magneticism of Sutton Foster. In the span of 42 minutes, she got to touch on many pockets of her artistic repertoire by exercising her musical talents, excelling at multiple moments of physical comedy (the dusty stove, the tension rod, the flirting), and hit the type of pitch-perfect emotional beats that have kept her sometimes stage-y performance grounded in reality. In particular, her brief conversation with Truly and the continual nightmares about her botched audition in the pilot served as reminders that behind the verbally dexterous tongue and gorgeous hair, Michelle is wounded, vulnerable, and someone that's in desperate need of a new direction in life. The Truly powwow, which also turned the Sparkles owner from manic Maria Bamford-ish manifestation to a tender, self-aware outsider, makes me hopeful that the two will stop their territorial squabbling and find the type of common ground needed to become friendly. Like it or not, they need one another and whatever past they may have just isn't important. Read More...


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