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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bunheads is a teen-friendly drama series from the creator of Gilmore Girls that brings together a cast of dancers -- including Broadway star Sutton Foster -- in a thoughtful story about finding your destiny and reaching your potential. The mostly female cast includes a number of teens and adults who model positive traits like self-acceptance, perseverance, and adaptability. Expect some romance, implications of sex, rebellious teen behavior like drinking, and moderate language ("ass," "boobs," etc.). The characters also raise issues about body image, so this is a great opportunity to start a discussion about that with your teens.
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What's the story?
BUNHEADS is the story of thirtysomething Vegas showgirl Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster), who's disenchanted with the Sin City lifestyle and regretting the ties she cut with her classical dance training when she was younger. When a promising audition ends badly, she impulsively accepts a marriage proposal from longtime suitor Hubbell Flowers (Alan Ruck) and moves to his home in the beachfront town of Paradise, Calif. Being a newcomer in a small community has its challenges, most notably earning the respect of Hubbell's mom/roommate, Fanny (Kelly Bishop), but Michelle finds her niche as an instructor in Fanny's ballet studio, where she bonds with a quartet of aspiring dancers and helps them overcome their insecurities while attempting to carve a path for her own future.
Is it any good?
Bunheads is a rare find in today's TV culture -- a touching, endearing story that balances humor, drama, and a delightful cast of characters who are both entertaining and surprisingly believable. Fans of Gilmore Girls will recognize these qualities as trademarks of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. There's a good bit of improbability to Michelle and Hubbell's rushed relationship, of course, but that's about the only plot point that asks you to set reality aside. By contrast, the scope of the characters' imperfections offers plenty of opportunities for the cast to make and learn from mistakes, all of which has great promise for a quality, teen-geared drama.
Perhaps the best aspect of this thoughtful series is its range of characters, each with the potential to model behavior traits that parents will love to present to their teen girls. Michelle uses her regrets about her past to inspire the young dancers she meets; sweet-natured Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins) refuses to let her insecurities about her body keep her from working toward her dream; and natural talent Sasha (Julia Goldani Telles) often turns to her friends to help her cope with troubles at home. Top that off with a delightfully charismatic and jovial performance by Tony Award-winner Foster and some mighty fine dancing from most of the cast, and you've got a rare gem for teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about self-image. What standards does the media set about body proportion and size? Do you think about these things when you look at your own appearance? Do you think these are realistic goals?
Teens: What are you passionate about? How does participating in activities that you enjoy help you feel fulfilled? What challenges have you overcome as a result of this participation?
How does the media portray teen drinking? Is it noticeable in the shows you typically watch? Are there realistic consequences?
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