On tonight’s new episode of Bunheads, “There’s Nothing Worse Than a Pantsuit” (that’s the episode title, not the main clause of this sentence), our heroine Michelle is forced to cope with two (2) formidable challenges. First up, as spoiled in the episode title: pantsuits! With Fanny MIA from an episode once again, Michelle is left alone to work with Milly on the next step of the Millicent Stone Performing Arts Center process: zoning approval from the town committee. Michelle nearly tries to go it alone, but Milly scolds her for not keeping her in the loop on any important issues. (“Anything that can’t be answered by reading a Judy Blume novel? CALL ME.”) Such formal requirements, in Milly’s estimation, cannot be completed while wearing anything except a pantsuit. Leave it to Truly and the magic of Sparkles to provide Michelle with options, all equally businesslike and hard to tolerate, even with meatball-sized beads and whatever “color blocking” is. Later in the episode she comes to terms with this temporary fashion detour and recognizes the inherent advantages — fewer wardrobe malfunctions; more pockets than dancewear has; and, on a metaphysical level, the pantsuit is “binding, so it keeps all your powers in.”
Michelle needs all the pantsuit power she can summon, for this very important meeting (held on an accelerated schedule per Milly’s wishes for control-freak purposes) is no less than a rematch with Sam (Rose Abdoo), Sal (Homicide‘s Jon Polito), and the other members of The Association For The Preservation Of Keeping It Real In Paradise (a.k.a. TAFT-POKI-RIP), last seen in episode nine, “No One Takes Khaleesi’s Dragons“. Already indignant because Milly lied about providing snacks, TAFT-POKI-RIP finds one major flaw with the amphitheater construction: all the innocent squirrels that will be left homeless and starving as a result of the slight deforestation that will be key to the plans. Somewhere out there in Paradise, someone asked plaintively, “Won’t someone think of the squirrels?” And like a bunch of screwy busybodies, TAFT-POKI-RIP answered the call, displaying all the acumen of the Vermont townspeople from Newhart. Fortunately for sensitive eyes, this environmental debacle is settled entirely offscreen by Milly in full-on rage mode. Somehow the day is saved and the MSPAC proceeds on schedule.
Also saving someone’s day: the Oyster Bar, tonight holding a special fundraiser for a charity called the Surfers United Retirement Fund, or S.U.R.F. for short. I found no corroboration for this organization existing online, but I trust that Rico knows what he’s doing with his own bar. Maybe possibly. Our loyal Bunheads are on hand to enjoy the evening; to insist on ordering fries from annoying waiter Jeff (Antony Del Rio) even though they’re not on the special fundraiser menu, to chow down on burgers Carl smartly smuggled in from a nearby restaurant (oh, Carl — don’t you have any flaws?), then to grow numb with boredom during the centerpiece event, a screening of the classic 1966 surfing documentary The Endless Summer. Even if surfing movies aren’t your thing, keep in mind that surfing may pay good money for the young and the strong, but millions of older ex-surfers have no union, no pension, no benefits, and no way to support themselves in their golden years unless they open a seedy restaurant like the Oyster Bar. Won’t you please help S.U.R.F.? Consider hanging ten or even twenty for them, won’t you? Thank you.
Meanwhile in Bunheadland, Sasha and Roman’s relationship returns with a texting-crazed vengeance after last week’s awkward pause. Feeling too confident for his own good, Roman then decides to ramp up their relationship even further by convincing a reluctant Sasha to admit to her friends that, yes, they’re officially dating. For Sasha, who prefers to play her cards close to the vest despite not owning anything as declassé as a vest, living out in the open is not standard protocol, but she acquiesces to his request — allowing him to drive her to school, walking with him in the hallway, occasionally rolling her eyes along the way. She still doesn’t talk to him as politely as she does to her houseplant, Ralph, but it’s progress.
Then he takes it one step too far: he insists on sitting with her and the other Bunheads at lunchtime. This breach of unspoken Bunhead lunch rules sows panic and disorder, as our heroines — barely introduced to Roman — have no idea how to include him in Bunhead discussion. Since he’s a guy, Boo leads off with sports (“So, is Wilt Chamberlain still alive?”). As a guy who also doesn’t respond to sports , I found this an endlessly amusing and painfully accurate replay of numerous situations in my life when strangers have tried to strike up conversation under the assumption that I’m typical. Maybe in other ways, but not that one.
Roman’s presence make matters worse when other guys notice that Roman has shattered the Women-Only segregation at the Bunhead table. Carl denounces this iniquity and claims the seat next to Boo. The metaphorical velvet rope is lowered even closer to the ground when Melanie suddenly finds the seat next to her taken by her icky brother Charlie’s ickier friend Dez (Paul James Jordan) for no other reason than to hang out with other bros. Setting aside Melanie’s revulsion, this leaves Ginny the only unaccompanied Bunhead at the table. In a moment of near-courage, she sidles over to another table where perfect Cosette’s eccentric brother Frankie sits alone, immersed in his drawing. She says nothing. He draws. She says more nothing. He draws more without looking up. The bell rings; the moment is passed; Ginny sighs; Frankie remains in Intense Art Mode. They’re like an elderly couple already.
About that second challenge of Michelle’s I mentioned earlier? It’s the end result of a surprise visit from her best friend Talia, who’s in town with amazing news she has to share in person because phones stifle congratulations: her senior sugar-daddy boyfriend Rick proposed to her! Also, for some reason she still has guys constantly running into her at random and being nice to her, which she may need to get over! Also also, she’s received a tempting job offer from a former, short-term boyfriend named Andy. Once an employee at Le Crazy Horse de Paris (I’ll leave you to Google that one — I’d prefer not to link to the famous nude cabaret’s official site), Andy is now a Broadway producer who remembers Talia and wants her for a role in Rock of Ages. Decisions, decisions. This week, everything’s coming up Talia!
Great for Talia, not so great for Michelle. After a night of besotted celebration, Michelle wakes up the next day hung over and possibly jealous that she’s not fielding crazy offers on the Broadway or boyfriend fronts. She shakes neither the headache nor the frustration when it’s time to grant a promised favor to Ginny. Her bestest BFF Melanie has her roller derby thing going; Sasha has Roman and her pricey apartment; Boo has perfect Carl; and Ginny has…um, no boyfriend and parents who are divorced but still bitterly feuding. After years of wishing and not stepping up, Ginny decides to audition for Paradise High School’s production of the 1950s musical Bells Are Ringing, which could be just the positive distraction she needs right now. Unfortunately her practice version of “It’s a Perfect Relationship” doesn’t ring true and lacks oomph. Leave it to a grumpy Michelle to bark unconstructive criticism at her, interrupt her curtly, and eventually step in and finish the number herself in grandiose fashion, really mining her inner feelings to play the part of a telephone operator who’s failing at convincing herself she’s happy with her limited life options. Fortunately her diva moment happens when it’s just the two of them at the dance studio, not at school.
Despite the harsh treatment, Ginny learns a thing or two and moves forward anyway. When she hesitates at the door to the auditions, Frankie magically appears and offers her wisdom in the words of either Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Aldous Huxley, or William Blake, depending on whom you believe: “There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors.” Emboldened by this aphorism, Ginny ventures through the door.
As of the episode’s end we still don’t know how the audition went. Ginny thinks it went well, and word on the street mentions nothing embarrassing. She tries to share the news with Frankie, but he’s in Intense Art Mode again, barely responding while working on ideas for a mural for the dance studio. (Perhaps he should swap notes with concurrent muralist Pam Halpert over at Dunder Mifflin.) Perfect Cosette tries to encourage her after this awkward exchange, but Ginny retaliates like an ill-tempered cobra. Cosette maintains the cooler head of the two, but offers a pragmatic reminder: “Our family is tight. Zappa tight.” (And when you’re comparing your family to Frank, Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Ahmet Zappa, that’s, y’know, serious.) If Ginny has long-term plans with Frankie in mind, it stands to reason his dear sister isn’t going anywhere and peace between the two of them will be kind of a prerequisite.
To be continued!
Our closing musical number: the only big-screen version ever filmed of “It’s a Perfect Relationship” as performed by Judy Holliday in the 1960 adaptation of Bells Are Ringing. I’ve never seen a Judy Holliday movie before, let alone this one. She’s no Michelle, but she’ll do.
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Missing an episode of Bunheads? Be sure to check ABC Family’s official site for recent episodes posted online, consult your local Video On Demand provider, spend money on them over at iTunes, try Hulu if you’re so inclined, or check out past episode recaps here at MCC. Your handy episode checklist is provided below, along with recap links where available. Enjoy!
6/18/2012: “For Fanny”
6/25/2012: “Inherit the Wind”
7/9/2012: “Better Luck Next Year”
7/16/2012: “Money for Nothing”
7/23/2012: “Movie Truck”
7/30/2012: “What’s Your Damage, Heather”
8/6/2012: “Blank Up, It’s Time”
8/13/2012: “No One Takes Khaleesi’s Dragons”
8/20/2012: “A Nutcracker in Paradise”