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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Gilmore Girls 2.0

In my two years living in an all-girls dorm at Notre Dame, I believe I have found an additional entry to the long list of "Things Notre Dame Students Like," - the Gilmore Girls. Based on the studious, ambitious, and kind qualities embodied at this school, it is not surprising that many ND girls identify with the epitome of those qualities, Rory Gilmore. Consequently, it is not hard to see why so many dorm rooms possess the show's seven-season DVD collection. However, since the 2007 finale of "Gilmore Girls," fans have been forced to enjoy the show's witty sarcasm and pop culture references in reruns. That is, until ABC Family's newest addition "Bunheads" premiered this past June.

"Bunheads," the most recent product of "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, is the story of Las Vegas showgirl Michelle Simms (Broadway star Sutton Foster) and her spontaneous insertion into the small-town universe of Paradise, California. Finding herself both married and widowed in the span of a single one-hour episode, Michelle quickly finds a leading role at Paradise Dance Academy, opposite her new mother-in-law and highly esteemed dance teacher (Kelly Bishop). So begins the transportation back to Stars Hollow, home of the beloved Gilmore Girls, led by matriarch Emily Gilmore - oops, I mean Fanny Flowers.

Though set at Fanny's dance studio rather than Miss Patty's and at an "oyster bar" rather than Luke's diner, Sherman-Palladino's signature mile-a-minute dialogue still remains.  It is clear that Sherman-Palladino's writing is the key to TV success, attracting viewers that appreciate smart humor and slightly off-kilter characters. Her addition of six "Gilmore Girls" veteran actors throughout the 10-episode summer run of "Bunheads" is simply the icing on the cake. The relocation of Sean Gunn, Rose Abdoo, Gregg Henry, Chris Eigeman, Todd Lowe and Kelly Bishop to Paradise makes the reappearance of "the classic Gilmore Girls" humor and charm all the more sweet.


"Bunheads" has been a great success this summer, due in part to its similarities to "Gilmore Girls." Its echoes of Stars Hollow are a dream-come-true for fans like me who have been pining for the Gilmore Girls since their sad 2007 departure from prime time TV. Our favorite characters' reappearances are long overdue and a welcome change to the flat characters that have become TV's standard. When "Bunheads" makes its return to ABC Family, perhaps we can look forward to more Gilmore Girls appearances from say, Michael Winters or YanicTruesdale. Maybe Paradise could use its own Taylor Doose or Michel, or even a cameo from the Gilmore girls, themselves.

The following is an introduction to our Stars Hollow favorites' new roles in Paradise.

Kelly Bishop - Emily Gilmore to Fanny Flowers


Kelly Bishop's two maternal characters are nearly indistinguishable, save for Fanny's more bohemian clothing style and penchant for kitschy knick-knacks. Both Fanny and Emily occupy central roles within their respective community bubbles and they both possess clever rapports with their respective daughters. And though Michelle Simms is not played by "Gilmore Girls" veteran Lauren Graham, if one pays attention to only the dialogue in "Bunheads," it is far too easy to picture Lorelai Gilmore residing in Paradise.

Gregg Henry - MitchumHuntzberger to Rico


All true "Gilmore Girls" fans remember MitchumHuntzberger well as the power-wielding father of Rory's college boyfriend and the cause of Rory's academic downfall. It seems that karma has followed-up with Mr. Huntzberger as he moves to Paradise. Now the lethargic and openly alcoholic owner of the town surf bar, Gregg Henry has traded in his tailored suits and superior demeanor for comfy t-shirts and a lackadaisical surfer-dude 'tude. 

Sean Gunn - Kirk to Bash


Sean Gunn, the wildly quirky, perennially job-changing and self-searching Kirk of "Gilmore Girls" has made a much-anticipated return to Amy Sherman-Palladino's creative universe. Sean Gunn entered Paradise as the world-renowned barista, Sebastian "Bash." Kirk's antics were predictably dorky and their details laughably unpredictable; Bash's antics are much the same. Michelle (apparently possessing a coffee addiction of Gilmore proportions) is shocked and appalled to see Bash's customers reading novels and doing homework while patiently waiting in line for their morning cups. She soon learns that Bash hand-selects his coffee beans used in each brew and he uses his mystically insightful powers to suggest the appropriate blend for each customer, thus turning a morning coffee run into an hour-long event. Kirk would surely be proud of this endeavor in entrepreneurship.

Todd Lowe - Zack to Davis


Todd Lowe makes his appearance on "Bunheads" loud and notable, this time with an eye patch rather than a guitar. Previously, Todd Lowe played the lovable, if oblivious member of Hep Alien. Now, he returns as the one-eyed town plumber and love interest of Truly, the owner of a dress shop, Sparkles, and Fanny Flower's wannabe daughter-in-law.


Other "Gilmore Girls" doubles include Chris Eiseman, as Jason on "Gilmore Girls" and theater director Conor on "Bunheads; and Rose Abdoo, as Gypsy on "Gilmore Girls" and tap-dance student Sam on "Bunheads." Amy Sherman-Palladino also recruits Sam Phillips again in the "Bunheads" music department, contributing to the small-town sounds of Paradise.