Bunheads Creator, Stars Spill Secrets from the Short-Lived ABC Family Series

Bunheads Reunion

It’s been two years and four-ish months since the ladies of ABC Family’s Bunheads danced their way off of our screens (though never out of our hearts). So, what are the former residents of Paradise up to now?

That was one of the many questions fielded by the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who was joined by three of its stars — Sutton Foster, Kelly Bishop and Stacey Oristano — on a panel at the ATX Television Festival on Friday.

“It was about dance and it was about teaching and it was about all these things I felt so passionately about … so it was a no-brainer,” Foster said of agreeing to play Michelle Simms, a part Palladino demanded she play after seeing her in Anything Goes. “I never wanted something so bad, and I worked really hard. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

THE TAP-OFF THAT ALMOST WAS | While Michelle’s relationship with Fanny (Bishop) was arguably the heart of the series, her antagonistic banter with Oristano’s Truly — who carried an eternal torch for Michelle’s late husband Hubbell — also made their relationship a fan-favorite. But here’s a fun fact: it almost never happened.

Bunheads Reunion“I didn’t actually audition for Truly,” Oristano revealed to stifled gasps from the audience. “I went out for her best friend. So I did two auditions with that, then a crazy crazy dance call and — bless Amy’s heart — after five hours at that dance call, Amy goes, ‘I think she can read for this other part.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, yes! Please! Does that mean I get to stop dancing?'”

Speaking of which, Oristano spilled, “Amy actually got mad at me one time because she didn’t know I’m a tap dancer.”

“Not a f—ing word!” Palladino interjected. “I find out, not from her, but from [Foster], who said, ‘You know, Stacey’s a great tap dancer.’ I’m like, ‘F–k you!’

Added Foster, “We were pitching … a duet, a tap-off between [Michelle and Truly].” Sadly, it was not to be.

FORMING THE CORE FOUR | In addition to having to find the perfect actors to play her main four girls, Palladino said, “I needed a specific body type for each girl, because it was a part of the story. I wanted them to be going through something where a lot of their success was dependent on their body type. So I needed Sasha, who had to be beautiful, look like that ballerina, have that classic body type, have the technique and be able to do it, because she was the one who could do it all and didn’t give a s–t. I needed Boo, who had to not have the body type … but she had to have the technique. That was particularly difficult because I needed a rockstar dancer, someone who had it all, except she’s not two pounds. And thank God we found Kaitlyn [Jenkins].”

Bunheads ReunionShe continued, “Then I wanted someone very tall and lean [for Melanie], and I wanted someone with big boobs [for Ginny]. Of course, the minute I cast adorable little Bailey [De Young], she goes on a diet, and the first place she loses weight was in her t–ts. … I’m like, ‘What happened to her t–ts?’ Sometimes the first thing that goes is the boobs.”

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? | “I think Michelle definitely stayed in Paradise,” Foster said when asked about her character’s current whereabouts. “She really found a home there … with unexpected relationships and an unexpected family. I think it would have been nice for her to have found love, so that’s something we didn’t get the chance to delve into in that season. She had a fun fling with [Nathan Parsons’] Godot, which was fun, but the closest thing she had to love — in a weird way — was with Hubbell and Fanny. She found love and family with her, but it would have been nice to see her in a relationship.”

As for whether or not Fanny likely remained at the dance studio, Bishop didn’t hesitate before saying, “Yes, she would go on until the very, very end. … That is a dancer’s life. With dancers, I feel like it’s kind of a given that you pass the torch by teaching other people to dance. This is a completely natural thing for Fanny. I imagine that if Michelle found love, Fanny would be mad at her for being disloyal to Hubbell, or something really twisted like that.”

And Truly? “I think she marries [Scotty],” Oristano said. “She had such a crush!”

Ultimately, Palladino said she didn’t bother making too many plans for the show’s future, since the writing was on the wall long before word of the show’s cancellation finally came down from the network.

“We had some ideas, but we knew,” she said. “When you’re on a network that revolves around 13-year-old girls who haven’t menstruated yet, it’s tough to continue stories about life and emotion. It’s not really [ABC Family’s] game. Maybe that game will change, but at the time, they didn’t know what to do with us.”

Added Oristano, “We didn’t have the word ‘liars’ in the title.”

Bunheads fans, what are your favorite memories from the 18-episode series? Drop ’em in a comment below.

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48 Comments
  1. schmed says:

    Of all the one-season wonders I’ve lamented over the years (going back to “My So-Called Life”), I think the premature demise of “Bunheads” wrankles the most. It’s not accidental that the cast can speculate about their characters’ future lives. The show depicted characters who crossed paths with unexpected consequence, and there were many many stories yet to tell about how these various (and varied) characters would affect each other and grow.

  2. WenRaz says:

    I loved Bunheads. It was such a fantastic show. I always wondered what it was doing on that channel. It should have been on the CW at least.

  3. Nancy says:

    I loved that show. It was so well-written, great casting & actors, too.

  4. Television Watcher says:

    Reblogged this on The Television Watcher.

  5. Ricky Lee Jones says:

    It was a hard show sometime to love but I miss it dearly.

  6. cogero says:

    I still miss this show.

  7. Dave S. says:

    No word given on where the DVD’s are?

  8. pamill says:

    Where is Netflix / Amazon / Hulu / Yahoo / DirecTV when you need them ?

  9. Jared says:

    There is nothing worse than having a great show on the wrong network. Not that Bunheads was ever a hit, but it’s funny how now most of ABCFamily’s series aren’t doing much better than Bunheads was at the time.

  10. seawing says:

    I loved ,, loved that show. There was nothing wrong with it. The acting, dancing, and writing were perfection. The only consolation is Sutton is on Younger. Hopefully, TV Land will be smarter than ABC Family!

  11. Oh Captain, my captain!!! <3 that moment so much!

  12. Jill says:

    My favourite moment was when Fanny takes an armful of candles and says, “sooo greedy”.

  13. Carol Copfer says:

    I just want the show BACK on the air. I loved it. We (myself, children, and grandchildren) are ALL dancers. The show helped to reinforce the need to practice, to prepare for class and to keep moving…that dace is everywhere. Everything you learn in dance class will be helpful to real life in the big world. If you feel it, dance it!

  14. Carole Lux says:

    Loved when Sasha got her own apt. and had a Martha Stewart-worthy housewarming, but ended up at Michelle’s.
    Is this series available on DVD???

  15. lori says:

    Loved that show! Captain my captain and LOVED the Constantinople dance. Also the goodbye dance. Would buy it in a second if it came out on dvd

  16. rri0189 says:

    I once tweeted, “#Bunheads is smart, funny, sweet, beautiful and gifted. If it were a woman, I would marry her.” Still feel that way. (By the way, I’m a 66-year-old straight male who can’t dance for beans.)

  17. Janet says:

    My 17 year old daughter and I both loved the show-it had something for everyone. Plus it was genuine. And optimistic. And the writing was quick and smart and witty and relatable. We wrote letters and emails to no avail. I think you have to find a different network -PLEASE! !!!

  18. Alice says:

    I don’t have a favorite scene but I loved everything about the show–especially the banter between Michelle and Fanny. Was very disappointed when it was cancelled.

  19. headyuy321 says:

    Reblogged this on Collections of a Manila College Student Who Is Perpetually Broke and commented:
    Still completely devastated that this show was cancelled. Really loved Bunheads, and now I don’t know what to do with my life because I don’t know how their stories end. This is the worst feeling in the world, having no closure.

  20. Miffy says:

    It was like a cheap, shopworn version of Gilmore Girls. And that ridiculous opening, with “Amy Sherman Palladino Presents”, like she was Martin Scorcese or seomthing.

  21. arial2 says:

    Thank you for sharing this interview. Bunheads was one of the smartest (and sweetest) shows around and I mourned its demise. All the kids were terrific actors, but I just loved Sutton Foster’s portrayal of Michelle and her tension with Kelly Bishop’s Fanny.

  22. Donna Dumas says:

    It was such a great show, it was always fun to play “find the Gilmore Girls alumni”. Maybe if the show came out on another network…I will always watch whatever Amy is writing.

  23. Rachel says:

    I had really enjoyed watching this show with my mom and sister, and reading articles like this reminds me of how much I miss it. What a shame. RIP Bunheads.

  24. Diane Cuperus says:

    Loved that show.. so sad it ended so soon… Kept waiting for Luke and Lorelai to pass through Paradise and Lorelai would see the resemblance in the characters but Luke wouldn’t, and of course think she had too much coffee.. miss both shows

  25. Leslie Beem says:

    I miss Bunheads. The entire first season was my favorite part!!!!

  26. Elle says:

    Liked the show, just when I was getting into the show, they canceled it. It kinda had a Gilmore Girls feel to it.
    I was hoping to see Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel make some kind of appearance. Like having Lauren Graham be (Kelly Bishop) Fanny’s daughter coming to visit and Alexis Bledel be a former student stopping by and actually having an interaction with the girls.
    Sutton Foster’s character Michelle Simms had a great mother/daughter chemistry with Julia Goldani Telles’ character Sasha Torres. They were like the new Lorelai and Rory Gilmore.

  27. Jan says:

    I am still so mad that they cancelled. So what if it was on family a good part of the story was dealing with teenage girls and their problems. Family lost many viewers when the cancelled one of the best shows they ever had!

  28. TC says:

    Bunheads was such a good show, I was so mad when they took it off. We were getting to the good parts and the musical numbers were great. I wish it could be brought back. I think people didn’t give it a chance. I dislike when I get so into something and they cancel it boom and everything you started to build with the show goes away. Not Fair!

  29. TC says:

    I blame ABC Family, I think they didn’t give it a chance. All the other weird stuff they put on. This was really good. I would love it to comeback and each show should be given at least a couple of years.

    Captain My Captain!

  30. Bonnie claire says:

    I personally loved this show and was disapointed when i found out they cancelled it. I wish they would bring it back….. along with another one of my favorites the lying game which was also cancelled If they brought these shows back i would freak i loved Bunheads and always will.

  31. Amanda says:

    I miss this show so much! It’s been 2 years and I still can’t get over the fact that it was canceled.

  32. We still have the final episode on the DVR upstairs and every couple of months I watch that last scene between Michelle and Ginny. That might not be my favorite moment, but I think it is my most treasured one. When ABC Family cancelled “Bunheads” I swore off the network forever. They are dead to me.

  33. Jael Penn says:

    I still miss the show. The writing was excellent! I was so happy to see familiar faces from the Gilmore Girls, my other favorite show. Perfect cast, awesome dancing, and fun banter.

  34. April says:

    It’s a shame when quality shows don’t make it and brain dead reality shows full of vapid, shallow people flourish. Society today is just getting dumber.

  35. becky Alvarez says:

    Bunheads is one of the very best shows ive ever seen!!! Soo sorry when it was cancelled. There is sooo much great story to tell..

  36. Me says:

    Please bring it back. It was a great show! After bringing back Gilmore girls on Netflix, bring back Bunheads. Please please please!

  37. Amy Sherman-Oliver says:

    I really liked the show Bunheads. I hate it no longer is on. Please bring it back. I loved the dancers!

  38. Kat says:

    If they can Netflix Gilmore Girls, they should Nexflix Bunheads, damn it!