“So that was a condom, not a mint?” and Other Reasons Bunheads Should Not Have Been Canceled

Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all time, and when I heard that Amy Sherman-Palladino was writing another show, I had to watch it. Bunheads (ABC Family) did not disappoint! Although the story line is different, it made me realize why I like Gilmore Girls and Sherman-Palladino’s work so so much. Bunheads has the same clever and fast-paced dialogue that I love and missed (and A S-P apparently can’t get enough of Waiting for Godot jokes). Like the citizens of Stars Hollow, the kooky residents of Paradise, CA, remind us that we are all a little bit crazy. It was even fun to see a few familiar faces, like Liza Weil, Kelly Bishop, Sean Gunn and Rose Abdoo, in new and equally wonderful roles.

Needless to say I am extremely sad that the show has been cancelled. I am sad because I think more shows should be like this one. I am sad because if I had a daughter or a little sister, this is the kind of show I would want her to be watching.

The girls (Sasha, Ginny, Boo, and Melanie) are good role models. They are passionate and dedicated young ladies who spend hours everyday practicing the thing they love until they get it right. At the same time, they are still normal teenage girls who enjoy sleepovers and going to the movies. No one is without flaws, yet they are intelligent, talented and motivated, and these qualities help them navigate the drama that friends, family, and romance bring to their lives.

Example: at the end of the season, Sasha decides that she wants to have sex. But she wants to make sure she is ready, she wants to be informed! So she rounds up Boo, Ginny, and Melanie…and they read about it. They go to the library. She seeks the advice of a trusted adult. This plot development, where Sasha and Boo consider taking their relationships to the next level, was handled in such a refreshing (and adorable!) way. Sex wasn’t made “unsexy” but it was treated like the real and very major decision that it is, and I think more people need to see that kind of behavior on television.

The ballet itself also makes the show special. The girls aren’t just attending class–performances add another artistic dimension to the episodes that is really beautiful. I’m not a dancer (and I imagine that people who do dance will have a different response to this aspect of the show) but I really came to see dancing as the form of expression that it is. The moments when Michelle and the girls are dancing were an essential part of the storytelling, like dialogue and music.

For example, this scene which expresses Sasha’s emotional turmoil, or the final scene of the show, a dance to “Makin’ Whoopee”–a fitting musical choice in light of the episode.

James Poniewozik wrote a great article for TIME about the show. The importance of the show, he says, is “to prove that there are different kinds of stories worth telling outside the usual genres.” He also writes, (and I’m quoting him because I literally cannot say it better): “But death is not the only thing that makes your life worthy of your attention. There’s growing up, finding your limitations, learning who you are. There’s being grown up, being forced to reassess your life, figuring out who you still can be. There’s wanting things and pursuing a calling–which does not always have to be building the largest meth operation in the Southwest.”  Bunheads is not Breaking Bad*–it doesn’t have that kind of suspenseful, high-stakes, high-adrenaline feel, but that might make it all the more worth watching. And like Poniewozik also points out–between Fanny, Michelle, and the girls–this show speaks to multiple generations

I am disappointed, but I’m not the only one. I hope to see more from Amy Sherman-Palladino in the future, and some more creative and intelligent shows like Bunheads on television.



Poniewozik, James. “On the Importance of Bunheads”. TIME. 26 Feb. 2013 Web. 4 Aug 2013 http://entertainment.time.com/2013/02/26/on-the-importance-of-bunheads/

*I am not hating on Breaking Bad.


Thoughts on “The Fault in Our Stars”

It has been a shamefully long time since my last post–my apologies! Even though I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been doing plenty of reading, thinking, and writing. From Final papers to personal statements (and wedding speeches!) it feels like writing is all I have been doing for the past seven months! But enough excuses. I just read  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Penguin Books Limited, January 2013). It was a beautiful book and I’m sharing some of my thoughts about it in this post.

I was yearning for “light” reading and I am huge sucker for romance. Somehow I ended up choosing a novel about teenagers with cancer. Romance, check! Light, not at all.  This book may be categorized as “young adult” fiction, but I think it is a worthwhile read for anyone. At times heartbreaking, at times humorous, and often both at once, this story transcends age. The protagonists are teenagers, but this story is not about “coming of age” –it is about coming to terms with death, and coming to terms with the life you have lived. We are all going to have to come to terms with death. For Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, the time comes tragically too soon.

Many reviews praise Green’s handling of the subject matter, and I read the book partially out of curiosity: how does one write about terminal illness and “boy-meets-girl” in a way that isn’t maudlin or trite? I think Green achieved this by not making cancer the focus of the book. It’s always there, in Augustus’s prosthetic leg and Hazel’s oxygen tank, but disease doesn’t define the characters in a tiresome and limiting way.  Perhaps this illustrates the power of writing to illuminate something otherwise invisible. The novel shows how illness can be conspicuous and draw unwanted attention, but in words printed on pages, the characters have the opportunity to be seen as so much more than their diagnoses.

In the simplest of terms, I would describe TFIOS as  a story about how literature affects people (and what English major wouldn’t love a novel about that?). Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction (shout out to Emily Dickinson) is about a girl who has cancer and Hazel is utterly enthralled by the way the author (this is not a real book) writes about the disease. This book ends mid-sentence, and she desperately wants to know what happens to all the characters, and has written the author several times to find out. At first I found her obsession a bit simplistic –why do you really need to know what happened? What makes you think that the author has an ending for them? In school, especially this past year, I have been trained to challenge my very desire for these answers. So I did this for Hazel too, and I think that her preoccupation with the “afterwards” reflects the way that she, with her terminal diagnosis, “misses the future.” She worries about her parents. She worries about being “a grenade” and hurting Augustus by dying.  She is concerned about what will happen when her story ends. I’m not really a fan of books-in-books, and the author, Van Houten, is the most unpleasant part of the novel. Yet this “function” for An Imperial Affliction and Hazel’s obsession with its ending is what makes TFIOS incredibly sad. A lump rises in my throat even now, perhaps because of my propensity to daydream all the time. I imagine the future–who doesn’t? But I am in my daydreams of the future. Hazel is not in hers.

As Google will tell you, the title refers to a line from Cassius to Brutus in Julius Caesar, and the title of the fake book refers to a poem by Emily Dickinson. In this day and age, you don’t have to have remembered the line, or be well-versed in Dickinson to know that these are allusions (although I strongly believe familiarity affects one’s emotional response). Do a Google (or Bing, whatever) search of “An Imperial Affliction.” Emily Dickinson’s poem “A certain slant of light” is now forever tied (at least via the internet) to the title of a fake book (and TFIOS). The first page is actually all hits related to the fictional book. I can’t decide if this is strange or cool. Probably both. Maybe people who read TFIOS will go read or reread the poem, leading to a newfound appreciation for Dickinson. I also like that, in a novel published in 2013, teenagers battling terminal illness challenge the assertion that “the fault is not in our stars, but ourselves”, engaging in a dialogue with Shakespeare, as well as a story that was thousands of years before Shakespeare. Just as the literature of the present responds to (or is inspired by) the literature before it, intertextuality allows the “old literature” to be be considered in a new context–this is exciting to me.

There are many poignant and insightful moments that I would like to explore, but I’ll stop here for now. If you haven’t read the book yet, you should! It is a quick read, but one that is not soon forgotten. Just keep a box of tissues close by.