'Bunheads' recap: "You're Like An X-Rated Mary Poppins."

bunheads-320.jpgMichelle and Fanny have a ball putting together a fundraiser and the annual Nutcracker performance, filling Sasha's toe-shoes with a fairly insane nameless ringer and turning the town out in style. But before you know it, Michelle's wrecked things with Fanny's quasi-boyfriend, maced the Bunheads, and managed once again to piss off the entire town with an ill-timed and frankly bewildering Godot kiss.

Melanie and Ginny strike up a momentary truce regarding the Charlie Situation, but it won't last. Sasha meets a jock who turns into some kind of emo concept person, with all the organic realism this show has taught us to expect. Among the many wonderful dance sequences, there's a moment between Carl and Boo that's at least as squirmingly insane as anything else we've seen. And in the end -- and honestly, it's a surprise she hasn't managed this before now -- everybody ends up in the hospital.

...Where Michelle returns to her audition dream we sometimes see parts of, but this time the judge is Hubbell, who tells her she's remarkable and talented and that he brought her to Paradise to crack some nuts and make everybody feel weird and excited, like she did to him. It's a nice premise and all, and certainly a game attempt to make sense of the show on a basic level, but since her "shaking things up" has mostly amounted to being oddly rude to strangers and all the Truly abuse, it feels a little unearned.

What does feel right, though, is the relationships she's forged with the other characters. Sasha pulls out a literal Dead Poets Society "O Captain My Captain" routine as Michelle contemplates disappearing, and Hubbell's kindest ghost-advice involves pointing out that Fanny always wanted a daughter. As loathsome as the dated '90s references tend to be -- especially with straight rip-off, copy-of-a-copy stuff like this -- there's still a bit of an emotional payoff when you see how the characters find new ways to fit together.

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