I am a fan of the TV series "Bunheads," about three (unrelated) generations of women and a small-town dance school, whose first season ran from last June 2012 to February 2013 on
It doesn't look good, one would say. But if this non-announcement is not just an exercise in executive sadism — a thing which we are all ready to credit, I imagine — the implication is that the relevant minds have indeed not yet been made up. And therefore, all is not lost.
Still, it is a tense situation, a crisis of sorts, and flares are being launched. "Bunheads" is a show that many critics like a lot (my own original testimony is here), and they are making their feelings known — even as the clock closes in on the end (or renewal) of its days, as (to make an inappropriately weighty analogy) editorial writers might at the 11th hour hopefully promote a reprieve for a death-row inmate. A.V. Club TV editor Todd VanDerWerff, in a piece entitled "Hey, ABC Family, just renew 'Bunheads' already," went on at emotional length; writing at Vulture (New York magazine's culture website), Denise Martin gave the situation industrial and historical context; Louis Peitman at Buzzfeed offered 10 reasons, with embedded video, why the show should be saved; Esther Zuckerman at the Atlantic Wire noted the support (in a column whose title, "Why There Is a Quest to Save 'Bunheads'," seems a tacit acknowledgment that many readers won't know a thing about it) and added her own — as I am doing here. There have been others.
While critical love has at times helped keep marginal shows alive, conferring prestige that might have made the difference in a close call — or giving a network good press at a time when good press was needed, as with
Nevertheless, we have seen the miracles happen and so live in the expectation that they can happen again. We have seen that a series killed off by one network may be reborn on another. ("Futurama," "Cougar Town," "Southland," Conan O'Brien's late-night talk show and now "American Dad" are some recent examples, though there are others, throughout television history.) Since fans of "Roswell" got that show renewed, back in 2000, ostensibly by mailing thousands of bottles of Tabasco sauce to UPN, it has become a thing to send stuff, often foodstuff, as a demonstration of support; I have lately received many messages from fans of the actually canceled "The Borgias," who believe that sending tins of sardines to the suits at Showtime might somehow shock that show back into life, producing a "promised" fourth season. "Roswell" notwithstanding, this is quixotic — deluging people with things they don't want and then have to deal with is possibly not the best way to win them to your side. I have seen no calls to save "Bunheads" by, say, sending buns to ABC Family; but this doesn't strike me as a lack of ardor so much as having a sense of proportion, and even a sense of style.
I tend to be dispassionate about cancellations; there are always more shows to watch, and I don't need (or even really believe in) closure. I loved "Freaks & Geeks" as much as it is possible for me to love a TV show, and yet I am happy with the perfection of its 18-episode single season. (There are also 18 episodes of "Bunheads," I note.) "Wonderfalls" (Todd Holland/Bryan Fuller,
That said, and in the full knowledge that my saying it matters more to me than to anyone in a position to Do Something About This, I would very much like to see "Bunheads" return. For one thing, there is at present a dearth of hour-long comedy on television — dramatic things happen in the show and are deeply felt, but I would hesitate to call it a "comedy-drama" or, ew, a dramedy — and it is a most fruitful form, allowing for slower pacing and more involved, emotionally subtle and true-to-life arcs than a 22-minute sitcom affords. It is a serious show, but also a sunny one.
Although not, in the prosaic sense, about family, it is truly a family show — unlike some other ABC Family series whose pitch is specifically to the sensation-seeking young. There are not so many of those around, on any network. Like show-runner Amy Sherman-Palladino's earlier "Gilmore Girls," which it structurally and tonally resembles, it respects the old as well as the young, and all those in between. Experience does sometimes confer wisdom, and children do not automatically know everything.
Dancing: There is dancing on television, mostly in contests, and almost none of it ballet (or serious modern dance). (
And Sutton Foster. The cast is uniformly fine: the four principal young women (Kaitlyn Jenkins, Julia Goldani Telles, Bailey Buntain and Emma Dumont each representing a different set of gifts, limits and possibilities -- and, not incidentally, body type); the great
h; on television, in "Bunheads," just a little while longer.