Bunheads told the tale of Michelle, a Las Vegas showgirl who marries on a whim and moves to a coastal town where she works with her mother in law, Fanny, at a dance studio. Created by Gilmore Girls creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, the short-lived series is now the focus of the Stumbling Ballerinas podcast.
Each week, the hosts break down an episode with lots of laughs and alcohol. They even create a drink specifically for each show. Recently, I had a chance to speak with the hosts, Elizabeth, Eileen and the Megan’s (there’s Megan 1 and Megan 2) about their podcast. You can follow the ladies exploits via their website or Twitter (@drunkballet).
Out of all the television shows you could have covered, why Bunheads?
Megan 2: I think we chose Bunheads because we love Amy Sherman-Palladino and this show just didn’t get the coverage and love it deserved. Lots of people talk about how great Gilmore Girls is, but no one gives enough credit to how amazing Bunheads is. So if we could bring a little bit of attention to this hidden gem, we certainly were going to try. Plus, we all really enjoy Sutton Foster and when the 6amCrowd met at the ATX Festival, we had a bonding experience that included making sure Sutton Foster was alive. In case you’re not aware, Sutton Foster likes to randomly wander down streets alone in Austin and we were concerned for her safety for awhile. I think that little experience and inside joke kind of spawned us wanting to watch Bunheads and the amazing Sutton Foster.
Eileen: I totally agree with Megan 2!! Bunheads was a glimpse back into AS-P’s universe and seeing some of our favorite townies back on the screen (with fresh blood) was like coming home!
Elizabeth: It was also a fun way to acknowledge the consistencies of these worlds that AS-P creates. When Bunheads first aired, it was like coming home again. Amy leaves (intentionally or not) these little Easter eggs along the way in her works for her fans to find and enjoy. So it’s a great experience to be able to spend time with your friends specifically hunting for these eggs… while drinking!
Did you watch other Amy Sherman-Palladino’s shows?
Eileen: I was on the Gilmore Girls train the first time it pulled out of the station. I had a group of friends who would tape the show if one of us couldn’t watch. We agreed that we would not discuss the episode until everyone had watched it. We were all Team Jess!
Elizabeth: I also fell in love with AS-P the moment Gilmore Girls aired. I had previously been a big fan of Roseanne but didn’t realize her involvement until well after the Gilmore Girls psychosis had reared its ugly head.
Megan 1: I watched Roseanne a lot when I was younger, but Gilmore Girls is what did it for me. I came into it in season 4 and then started watching the first season with Netflix. For the youngsters, this was pre-streaming, so my parents got me the 3 disc plan as a “going off to college” gift and I sat in the backseat of the car with my brand new Dell laptop watching those early episodes trying not to freak out on the way to my new home for the next four years.
Megan 2: I definitely watched Gilmore Girls (repeatedly). Similar to Megan 1, I started in Season 4 and had to get caught up. However, I didn’t have Netflix. So I went old-school and printed out all of the transcripts from Season 1 – 3, put them in a big 3 ring binder, and then read them all to get caught up! It goes without saying that it’s my favorite show. And, of course, I’ve watched Roseanne throughout the years. I also tried to watch Jezebel James, but unfortunately that one wasn’t for me. If you listen to our most recent podcast for Movie Truck, you’ll see why!
Who’s your favorite character on Bunheads?
Megan 1: Probably Michelle and Truly. Truly is so much fun. We recently discussed in an episode how when Bunheads started I had a hard time seeing Truly and not thinking of Mindy Riggins from Friday Night Lights. And now I watch FNL and can only think of how weird it is that Truly is a stripper.
Megan 2: Oh, this is a really tough one. I think one of the best things about Amy Sherman-Palladino’s work is that she makes everyone lovable, or at least enjoyable, at one point or another. I really love Sutton Foster in general (my cat is named Sutton Foster) so I’m automatically going to love her as Michelle. Only Kelly Bishop could play Fanny and she does it perfectly. If I had to pick a favorite character that isn’t Michelle or Fanny, it would definitely be Truly. Stacey Oristano has to be one of the most underrated actresses out there. I would happily watch a spin off of Truly and her store Sparkles. Amy Sherman-Palladino, are you listening?!
Eileen: I really love Fanny WITH Michelle! I took ballet from a mother/daughter pair when I was young. In both cases, the two were different when they were together than when separated. The interaction is my favorite aspect of each character!
Elizabeth: Truly! Truly! Truly! Her character was always fantastic, hilarious and complex. But she had me at “Please let me be your Shih Tzu”. She actually might be one of my most beloved AS-P characters ever. We need to see more from Truly.
What’s your favorite episode(s)?
Megan 2: Again, such a hard choice! If I go with what pops into my head immediately, it’s probably Movie Truck. And that’s definitely in large part to Stacey Oristano’s Truly. She’s SO great in Movie Truck. Though, I also find that when I decide to watch Bunheads, I usually gravitate to turning on What’s Your Damage, Heather? Some of my favorite Michelle deliveries happen in that episode.
Megan 1: I already suck at making decisions, but this is a really tough one. I love Movie Truck. I also love the whole second half of the series and curse ABC Family for keeping us from seeing where it could have gone from there.
Elizabeth: Yet another vote for Movie Truck! Truly was perfection, we got another quirky town event (very Stars Hollow-ish) and Sasha’s “Istanbul Not Constantinople” dance at the end was likely my favorite dance of the entire series. Not only was it gorgeous, but it did a really interesting thing for Sasha’s character development that really informed the next several episodes.
And your least favorite episode(s)?
Megan 2: Hmm. I mean, really I like every episode. Blank Up, It’s Time has some of my least favorite scenes. The scene where Michelle starts crying in bed with Conor? Ugh, makes me cringe every time. I honestly don’t know if we’re going for comedy or sincere crying and that bugs me. So yeah, Blank Up, It’s Time.
Megan 1: I guess I’ll copy Megan 2 and say Blank Up, It’s Time.
Elizabeth: Again, another vote for Blank Up, It’s Time. I just can’t with Digger (don’t even get my husband started on his hatred of Digger. He gets loud). No offense, Chris Eigeman, but I am not a Jason Stiles fan and, unfortunately, Conor was collateral damage. And I agree with Megan 2… that awkward crying jag ranks right up there with Rory crying to her therapist about coffee in s6:e11 of Gilmore Girls.
If there were a Bunheads revival, what would you want to see?
Elizabeth: I want to see more character development from Melanie. As she mentions, she and Ginny “have spinster buddy comedy written all over our faces”… and since we got more of a glimpse into Ginny, I’d love to see more about what motivates Melanie. And overall, I just want to see more. More dancing, more townie quirkiness… and more of Boo’s mom. God, I love Boo’s mom. I was hoping that AS-P would find a place for Jennifer Hasty in the Gilmore Girls revival. She BELONGS in AS-P’s world.
Megan 2: I’d really to see how the cliffhanger with Ginny was resolved. I’d love to see that Michelle has completely settled into small town life, enjoying her career as an instructor. I’d like to see her in a nice relationship. Maybe Godot, but not necessarily. I’d like for Michael and Fanny to have reconciled and be happy, vacationing in Montana every once and awhile. And, of course, just seeing that the girls have grown up and are successful and happy. It’d be great if Boo was an instructor with Michelle. She’d be so good at that!
Megan 1: I want Ginny’s story resolved, but I don’t know if that’s possible at this point because I imagine there would have to be a time jump. I’d just be happy to see everyone back and in a good place in their lives.
Eileen: I want to see Boo surrounded in support! Whether that is dancing or not doesn’t matter.
How often do you record?
Megan 2: We really have no set schedule. Getting 4 women together to record when we’re all in different time zones with crazy lives can be really difficult. We can even have a date scheduled and still have to re-schedule. And we prefer to record with all 4 of us, but when we feel like we’ve definitely gone too long without recording, sometimes we’ll record with just 3 of us. But I’d say we record at least once every 4 -6 weeks.
What’s your favorite podcasts to listen to?
Megan 1: Nerdist, Garbage Time with Katie Nolan, The Bill Simmons Podcast depending on the guest and/or topic. I got really into Anna Faris is Unqualified for awhile (mainly because I read that Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt called in during the Aubrey Plaza episode and I must consume everything that JLaw does), but it’s kind of fallen to the wayside for me lately. My current obsession is Bitch Sesh, which is a Real Housewives breakdown show with Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider. I love the Housewives and don’t care who knows it, so I really enjoy listening to them breakdown the episodes of Beverly Hills and now New York, which is my favorite franchise.
Megan 2: I’m all over the place with my podcasts because I have a lot of different interests. I love Garbage Time with Katie Nolan. I like Serial. I love The Nerdist (I wish Sutton Foster would be a guest!). And recently I saw a live recording of SPONTANEANATION with Paul F. Tompkins at Largo here in LA. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. I immediately subscribed to that when I got into my car that night.
Elizabeth: I already gushed over this when you interviewed me about Under the Floorboards… but just in case you haven’t read that one: Nerdist, Serial, Welcome to Night Vale, Oh No with Ross & Carrie, Book Riot – The Podcast, The Shipping Room, The West Wing Weekly and Suck the Joy (co-hosted by Kathleen Wihoitte who played Liz Danes on Gilmore Girls).
Let’s talk about alcohol! (Laughs) I see that you create drinks for each episode? How did this come about?
Megan 2: We’re actually doing a weekly drink that coincides with a character on the show. Our first drink, R-ASP-Berry En Revele’ was obviously a shout out to the one and only Amy Sherman-Palladino. We just think it’s a fun way to combine our drinking game to the show we’re watching. It’s fun to try and make a drink that represents the characters. We have a fun one coming up next!
Eileen: I think this was spawned at the ATX festival which had theme drinks. The “Lorelai” wasn’t our favorite but the bartender actually looked up how to make “The Rory”. It really did taste like My Little Pony!
Final question, advice to new podcasters?
Megan 1: As the person who set up our feed and spent many frustrating hours trying to get it up on iTunes, I recommend seeking out advice from anyone you know who has done a podcast. There are so many little details that have to be just right for iTunes to accept your feed and the advice I got from Rob, Elizabeth’s partner on Under the Floorboards, was so valuable.
Megan 2: Well we’re all relatively new podcasters ourselves. Personally I think the best advice is just to have fun. I know we’re not worried about being perfect. Our sound is never going to be perfect, we talk over each other all the time, you’ll hear us commenting on not all being at the right place in the episode. BUT we always have fun. And I think if you have a passion for what you’re recording about and enjoy the company of the other co-hosts, you’re good to go. Nothing is going to sound forced.
Eileen: Write an outline! We always have an outline for pre-episode and post-episode. The commentary is off the cuff but we have to make sure to cover the basics for each podcast: social media, current news, drink selections, etc.
Elizabeth: And last but not least, don’t compare yourself to other podcasts or other podcasters. Everyone brings different gifts to the game. Like Megan 2 said… just have fun and be yourselves!