Season 1, Episode 5
Date of airing: July 16, 2012 (ABC Family)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.235 million viewers, 0.5 rating with Adults 18-49
And after five episodes, Fanny has finally popped the question to Michelle and asked her to teach at the school. I might not have put it into words previously, but I did wonder how Michelle was planning to sustain herself after Hubble’s death and her decision to move into the guest house. I wondered when she would be getting a job and pay some bills, and I wondered when capitalism would be an issue with the show, considering that for an entire act, the third episode had Michelle being shocked and bewildered about what it might cost to keep the entire land she inherited alive and going. I could have guessed that Fanny was rich as hell and could have sprung for most of the finances, but this episode rejected my guess and made an entire story out of how Michelle and Fanny are going to pay the bills, which I found super interesting, even though I cannot believe that Fanny has always been able to get away with her four-boxes system. But still, I can’t get over the fact that Michelle isn’t teaching yet. I’m already waiting for the second half of the show, which simply has to have Michelle teaching (again, the title intro had Michelle on the receiving end of the ballet dancer’s pointing hands), because the show would create a different tone then, which might become necessary after the current batch of episodes won’t be able to do anything with the show’s premise after a short while. But it makes me ask the question why the writers decided to wait so long for the inevitable to happen, when you could have answered the question at the end of the third episode, if not in this one.
Then again, I do like Michelle’s hesitation to teach, because it could be a great character arc for her. Being a teacher means that you have arrived at a stage in your life, during which you cannot live any longer, especially when you were craving for a huge and successful career. All the things you have learned made you to what you are now, and there is nothing else to learn. If Michelle started teaching now, she would believe that there is nothing in the world to live for anymore, because she is now giving away her knowledge she hoped she would make tons of money with by using it herself. The stereotypes of being a teacher are pretty cruel though, especially in the Amy Sherman-Palladino fairytale world of happiness and funny brightness, and Michelle does not seem to want to live in that world (just yet?). So I did understand her hesitance to become a teacher. Fanny trying to convince Michelle that she can be a great teacher could also be a great story for an episode and an act. Consider Fanny asking Michelle twice to be a teacher in this episode as “the act,” and the next episode as the moment in which Fanny will successfully (hopefully) persuade Michelle to teach, and Michelle will hopefully realize that there is nothing bad about being a teacher. Especially since it would help to make teachers shine in a positive light in this show, and Fanny and Michelle would be able to pay the bills.
I absolutely loved Michelle’s bad-cop attitude in front of the dancers and their parents. Together with that scene in her bed with the possum, it showed where Sutton Foster was coming from, and that she had all the talents in the world to show emotions (and disgust) with facial expressions, especially during dialogue sequences (by the way, she could also be a great comedian). I had to laugh at her shocked and scared face, when the possum hissed at her, and I amused myself greatly during Michelle’s bad-cop speech, especially the way she pronounced the word “money,” kind of like she was a New York mobster-to-be. I could have watched that scene over and over, which makes it even sadder that the speech didn’t work and the parents were pissed, and Michelle and Fanny had to think of something else how to make money and pay the bills. As much as I loved the bad-cop scene, I hated the following scene, in which she had to apologize and work hard to get the students back to the Spring Flower dance. Because really, there was nothing wrong in wanting to be paid for services that required teaching.
In a way, that made the episode entirely anti-capitalism, which I guess is a good thing to do, but completely outside the realm of realism. Basically, the writers were dreaming in the Sherman-Palladino fairytale world, and with no bad and dark conflict, they also wanted a world free of capitalism and criticism. While I can accept the former, because it gives me the warm-blanket feeling I needed after the 2016 US presidential election, I cannot accept the latter, because it’s just too far-fetched.
Meanwhile, the four main bunheads were together for their own story, although Boo sort of separated herself, because she was more normal than the other three and figured it might have been a good idea to have a job. Unfortunately, the “senior manager” had to play the man card and force his female employee to do work that wasn’t even needed to be done, and no one gave a damn about it, until hot sexy bartender without a shirt spoke up (because even hot sexy bartenders without a shirt have to have a brain, or otherwise they would be dumb from beginning to end). It’s a shame that Boo didn’t have any trouble at all during her dumper jumping days, and that it didn’t have any consequence for the “senior manager” (who was barely seen again after he gave Boo the roundabout at the Oyster Bar), but I did like that her friendship to hot sexy bartender without a shirt wasn’t used to make anyone jealous. Not Ginny, Melanie and Sasha, and definitely not anyone else who might have been considered an extra on the set that day. Maybe the other bunheads were a little bit jealous that Boo was able to strike a friendship with hot sexy bartender without a shirt, but even Ginny, Melanie and Sasha had to realize that Boo was only successful, because thanks to her job, she was able to hang with hot sexy bartender without a shirt a lot longer than the other three girls. And maybe that whole thing made Boo popular among the man bunheads, and that might be a status Boo thrives in, especially since it bites with the notion that Boo’s mother doesn’t have trust in her talents as a dancer, as depicted in the previous episode.
And finally, the “Paper or Plastic” dance: I found it as hilarious the way Michelle did. I already knew that ballet could be used to transmit messages like a normal dance could do, but I was amused by how visual the dance was, and how Fanny created the end of nature in that little dance and made it look as ridiculously amateurish-but-professional as possible. It was also great how Fanny’s comments about the dance functioned like a movie’s audio commentary, which is why I would have wished for the show to not cut back to Fanny and Michelle for a couple of times and instead just focus on the dance accompanied by Fanny’s commentary from the off.
Best part of the episode: In “Paper or Plastic,” nature loses. It’s like a whole different meaning on climate change, which maybe some members of the US Congress should look at. Just so I can see their scratched faces at the end, because they have no idea what the dance actually meant. Yeah, it really was a great number.
Worst part of the episode: How did Fanny ever think she could get by teaching her classes for nothing? How did she think she would get by it after Hubble died, who most likely took on most, if not all, of the bills? Damn, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s fairytale world is damning to people who think they can cruise by not paying any bills and just pop the bills into four different categories of boxes.
Weirdest part of the episode: So, did Godot only listen to Sasha at the bar after he heard the word “bartending?” Does he only get activated when he is being called by his job title? Ignoring a potential customer might be a bit of a dick move, but who knows, maybe Godot knew that Sasha was a minor, so there was no chance in hell he would listen to her, knowing she would want to order a hard drink.
Player of the episode: The possum wins this award for having been in bed with Michelle. It’s every boy’s dream, probably. I guess you will have to be an animal to even have the slightest chance to get in bed with Michelle.