1. Relatable characters.
Michelle is far from perfect: she’s actually pretty damn flawed, which is part of what makes her such a compelling character. We like her because we knows she’s trying — and like us, she fails a lot. She just wants to be a Broadway star and make out with cute guys, OK? We are all Michelle Simms.
2. Quirky characters.
But while Michelle is grounded in reality — despite the fact that no one talks that fast — there are plenty of other Bunheads characters that fall on the wackier side of the spectrum. It’s a delicate balance, but the kookier denizens of Paradise keep things interesting (and weird).
3. Professional dancing.
The dancing is SO GOOD. That’s what happens when you hire professional dancers. What’s great is that they’re also good actors, so you don’t have to compromise anything. But seriously, even for non-ballet fans, it’s impressive, and the dance breaks showcase a lot of solid talent that wouldn’t be getting this kind of exposure otherwise.
4. Frank talk about sexuality.
Teens are going to have sex, no matter how uncomfortable that makes their parents. Bunheads has done a great job of showing the reality of sexuality among teens without being exploitative or icky. These are young people figuring out their relationships, and doing it in a grounded, sympathetic way.
5. Pop culture references.
Amy Sherman-Palladino, who created Bunheads and Gilmore Girls, loves a good reference. These scripts are chock full of shout-outs to everything from Game of Thrones to Pussy Riot. It’s all very impressive, and adds to the argument against dismissing Bunheads as a show just for teenage girls.
6. The Gilmore Girls connection.
It’s not just the pop culture jokes and female friendships that make Bunheads feel like the second coming of Gilmore Girls. There are tons of casting similarities, too: in addition to Kelly Bishop, who’s been there from the beginning, the show now has Sean Gunn and Liza Weil. You might know them as Kurt and Paris.
7. Man candy.
In a lot of ways, Bunheads doesn’t feel like other ABC Family shows. And that’s not a bad thing! At the same time, it’s nice that sometimes it does give in to its target audience with shirtless hotties being sexy. Is it high art? Not quite. But I dare you to paint anything as memorable as Godot hanging out in the alley with his shirt off.
8. The girls.
When Bunheads started, it was all about Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop — two great actors, to be sure. But since then, the audience has learned so much more about the core four dancers, and it’s hard not to love them. They are the heart of this show, and it would be a shame not to watch them continue to grow up.
9. Sutton Foster.
But seriously. Sutton Foster. Musical theater fans have loved this dazzling woman for a long time, but her charm is finally on display as a TV series star. She’s a delight to watch, whether she’s freaking out or giving advice or singing something from The Pajama Game. Bunheads is the perfect vehicle for her.
10. The youthful exuberance.
There is so much joy and light in this show. It’s really rare, and it’s something we should cling to. Even with the occasional serious plotline, Bunheads is one of the sweetest shows on TV. It’s consistently endearing and adorable, and we need that — now more than ever.