“Bunheads” 7/30/2012: I’ve Seen “Heathers”, but My Broadway Scorecard is Lacking…

I never intended to dedicate a weekly spot to any given TV show, but the sheer density of dialogue, references, and character momentum packed into every episode of Bunheads keep driving me to take notes while watching for later musing and reliving. Tonight’s episode, “What’s Your Damage, Heather?”, was darker-edged than last week’s movie-truck escapade, with Michelle confirming the hard way what she’d already assumed deep-down, long before Fannie’s surprise vacation forced her into the substitute role: that teaching is hard, and role-modeling is even harder.

(Courtesy Spoiler Alert goes here. Bail out now if you’re planning to view the episode later this week on the ABC Family official site. This was no fluffy, inconsequential episode like “Movie Truck” was.)

As a consequence of Michelle’s carefree recollections of her life as a free-wheeling teen who received next to no moral guidance from her “Deb”, Ginny and Josh ended their aww-cute/uhh-weird eight-year relationship because Ginny (taking center stage for once) now feels inspired to play the field. The resulting domino effect emboldened Melanie’s icky brother Charlie to use poor lovelorn Boo as a potential inroad to now-unattached Ginny, to Boo’s humiliation and budding ire toward Michelle.

On the adult front, Truly remains on a roll from last week’s wild night and finds herself inexplicably drawn to one-eyed David the bad plumber. When Michelle isn’t upsetting the delicate fabric of the Paradise romantic scene, she’s busy bristling and fuming when Sasha acts up and all but demands a dressing-down from a capable adult. Meanwhile, Boo’s mom Nanette brings the gift of snacks, but seemed a little jealous of Michelle’s influence on Boo. Worst of all, now Ginny’s mom Claire will have to take out her own trash whenever she’s not busy shoving a real-estate pitch down someone’s throat. Oh, the horror and effort of it all. Tonight was just not Michelle’s finest hour.

Other random thoughts from tonight:

* The Heathers reference in the title was apt, though the callback to Winona Ryder’s one-time shoplifting incident seemed more than a little dated, even by the standards of a show that’s previously name-checked Girl, Interrupted. Also, though the “Heather” line is easy to remember if you’ve seen the film, Sasha reminds me more of Shannen Doherty’s Heather than Ryder’s Veronica. Differently apropos: when Charlie once again treated Boo like a doormat, I couldn’t help being reminded of poor, downtrodden Martha Dumptruck (in terms of status, not figure).

* Back in the days when I had enough hair to keep it shaggy and necessitate the use of a hair dryer, I recall many a time having them overheat and conk out after three or four minutes. How did Our Heroines manage to keep their dryers functional for three straight hours? Has the technology improved that much over the past decade? Do teams of Conair scientists work ’round the clock infusing their products with state-of-the-art upgrades?

* Are there reasons to hate Guys and Dolls? I’ve never seen it. Also to my shameful ignorance, I’ve never seen a single version of Les Miserables. Is this (a) a minor oversight; (b) a major oversight; or (c) a crime against art on my part? (If it helps, I promise to see the upcoming Hugh Jackman version as soon as it’s ready for me.)

* They mentioned a food truck fair! Finally, they cited an event we actually have in Indianapolis. I feel so hip and modern now.

* Fries on salad: worth trying or not worth trying?

* Sasha may be the first character under age 30 in recorded history to recite a snappy comeback using the word “shtetl”. Can someone verify that? Have pop-culture punchlines been sufficiently documented up to this point in time?

* Using “hip-hop line dancing” as an ostensibly made-up punchline isn’t half as funny if you’ve attended a company holiday party that endured a four-minute interruption by “The Cha-Cha Slide”. It’s not hip-hop, but I don’t appreciate that Michelle’s off-the-cuff wisecrack somehow brought it to mind anyway and now it won’t leave my head. (“Everybody clap your hands! CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP” AAAAAAAUGH.)

* Perhaps I’m too finicky, but ending a downer of an episode with pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies and a grape juice box isn’t nearly as tempting as the cheesecake breaks that used to punctuate every other episode of The Golden Girls.

* Alas, no use of They Might Be Giants this week. I was rather hoping for a brisk interlude set to “The Mesopotamians” or even “Boat of Car” (good luck choreographing that one). For the curious, the song of the night was briefly brought to you by Mates of State, before being interrupted by the wall-punching incompetence of David the pirate plumber.

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