Season 1, Episode 18
Date of airing: February 25, 2013 (ABC Family)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.012 million viewers, 0.531 million viewers with Adults 18-49, 0.4 rating with Adults 18-49
And it didn’t even feel like a season finale. The episode ended like any other one which had Sasha close out on the episode, although this episode decided to take the more dramatic route and chose Ginny for the episode closer and for her to cry into Michelle’s shoulders, all while Amy Sherman-Palladino somewhat makes a stand of young girls feeling the need to sexualize themselves, just to feel vindicated by the boys they like. I’m sure the story was kind of a criticism towards this social standard, in which women always have to be ready for sex (even if they simply want it, even if it’s with their significant others, even if they are truly interested and factually and emotionally ready for it), but also have to deal with the emotional consequences, while the boys simply can walk away after sex. It’s a game of expectations that the women will always lose, and it’s an interesting story to bring up in a show that is about teenagers most of the time, because it’s an important topic. Now I would have wished for BUNHEADS not to have been cancelled after this episode, I would have loved to see how Sherman-Palladino had continued the storyline, and if she would have continued the message of girls having to make their own decisions for themselves, and not for the guys they were hanging out with. Also, with sex finally having arrived in the bunheads’ lives, it would have made a complex mess out of them, and I would have loved to know how they would have grown through it during a second season. Had there been pregnancy involved in the narrative? Would there be jealousy even after the girls realized that the boys they call “boyfriend” turn out to be dicks?
It was a pretty good episode, but there was absolutely nothing that made it look like a season finale, which made me wonder if the network was cutting two episodes for budgetary reasons, and Sherman-Palladino was unable to fix the narrative. Usually, ABC Family was ordering their seasons in two blocks with ten episodes each, but the second block of BUNHEADS only had eight episodes, so one might wonder if two episodes got lost during the negotiations behind closed doors. A question that needs some answering, although I’m not sure if the answer would even satisfy me.
Anyway, I liked the episode, because it went through some different stuff than previous episodes. The girls stayed together, even during their road trip to Los Angeles, stalking Michelle, and Michelle herself became more of a family member of this little gang of Paradise, with Sasha entrusting her with the talk about sex on Sunday afternoon, and Ginny entrusting her with the fact that she lost her virginity a week ago. Also, I loved the closing dance sequence, which made me even more sad that there wasn’t another season of the show, even if the dance number was less ballet and more contemporary dance, which I don’t have a problem with.
So, the girls followed Michelle to Los Angeles and witnessed her audition process, which I found intriguing, because in a way it was bookending the season (the only point to argue that this episode was indeed the season finale). In the pilot, Michelle was teaching the girls how an audition usually goes, and at the end of the season the girls got to see with their own eyes how an audition goes, and Michelle was living it, with all the disappointment that were to be expected. Even I was mad when the actual dancers of the show showed up and it was explained to Michelle that the director was casting the already known faces and that the entire audition process was a waste of time, and I’m surprised and impressed that Michelle wasn’t going through a Hulkian tirade. I’m almost sure that Melanie would have given the director or the dancers a lesson like she did a few episodes ago, when she “punished” Godot and her brother’s ex-girlfriend. A scene I would have loved to see, because it would have thrown the girls front and center into the Los Angeles story, because all the time they were only in the background, inactively looking, and I really wanted for Michelle to see the girls and witness that they care about her, that she is being cheered on in the background (which maybe might be something Michelle really needs right now).
I was hoping for Boo to get the power over Sasha in the scene, during which Boo just wanted to audition, because it would have changed the girls from passive to active in that story, which would have worked a little better, if the girls were actively involved in the audition process. Even Michelle was passively involved, since she was following each step like she was supposed to. No words to the director, except her introduction (“Hi, my name is Michelle Sims!” — mirroring the three dream sequences she had auditioning previously), no words when she realized that the audition was a waste of time, almost even no disappointment in her face, because maybe she was expecting this to happen. I would have wondered though if Michelle started to grow some confidence out of the audition process. She survived the initial line-up, she survived the first choreography, and she even survived the individual audition, after which the pianist was telling her how great she was. If the dancers wouldn’t have been set since the beginning, maybe Michelle would have had a shot, and maybe that was the knowledge Michelle needed to gather to accept that she might still have it, and that she can still perform. That she still has a future on Broadway (or off Broadway), if she can work it out. The fact that the casting director already set the dancers might have broken her spirit here, which is why I was disappointed that Michelle didn’t even realize she got this far. Yes, the audition was a sham, but she still impressed someone to get to the position of singing in front of the cliched group of the guy on his phone and other people continuously talking to each other.
Meanwhile, the episode was focusing on the Stone sisters, making me wonder if Millie was planned to be a main character in the next season. Liza Weil had a huge presence these past few episodes, so the thought of her becoming part of the main cast was definitely there. I loved the peace moment between Millie and Truly, and I kinda loved that the two were simultaneously realizing they had a crush on Michelle’s brother, essentially repeating the back story of Truly and Millie having had a love for Hubble. This is a story that would have been told in the second season, for sure, and it’s a story I probably would have liked, because for some reason I actually liked Scotty in this episode. Who also would have potentially been a more recurring character with the next season. Now I’m not wondering anymore why the writers kept the character in the show — it looks like he was being kept warm for a potential upgrade in the second season that never happened.
Even though BUNHEADS has never been a great show, and the only great episode was the midseason finale, I will sort of miss it anyway, because it focused on the friendship between a group of girls, without borrowing too much from the treasure box of tropes. I loved their sleepover midway through the episode, because it’s something I barely get to see on television, and I would have liked to see far more of it. I would have loved for Cozette to have been included in the group, and I would have loved to see more scenes in which the girls were talking about their boyfriends, or simply just about random topics they were coming up with during their regular hangouts and sleepovers, in which Sasha will have had more opportunities to look and behave like a 1950s housewife, baking all those muffins. I would have loved to see Melanie and Cozette be more than friends, and I would have loved to see Boo and Carl making it in this universe of relationships. I guess the show will live on in my mind from here on.