Bunheads is a show that requires a great deal of willful suspension of disbelief to enjoy, as well as a large tolerance for characters that may be insufferable. Unfortunately, “Take the Vicuna” stretches too far on both counts in separate halves of the episode, and despite a fairly enjoyable sequel to last week’s Sims family adventure trying to buoy it all up, the episode as a whole was a bit of a letdown for me.
Let’s start with the most ridiculous: Sasha has her own apartment. She’s supposed to be what, sixteen years old? And absolutely no one brings up the legal or financial weirdness and implausibility of this situation, not to mention the total neglect of her parents in order to bring it all about. When it was introduced that Sasha’s parents were moving away, I expected the show to force her into living with Michelle as a surrogate parent, which also would have strained credibility in some ways, but could have kept me in the world. With this, I’m just lost, which is a shame, because the jokes about her housewarming party are mostly on point (thanks especially to the Sims’ collective astonishment), and the emotional beats, centering around the way she looks up to Michelle, and bouncing off the parental strife happening elsewhere in the episode, are all fantastic, and excellently executed.
The other main problem is the stuff with Millie, who is simply too annoying to stand at this point. I like the actress, and I think she’s doing the best with what she’s given, but there’s only so much I can take, and when our heroes are already pretty annoying, you can’t make your conflict-creating character obnoxious in the same fast-talking kind of way. I would have thought the theater would be a fun plot going forward, but now I’m far less convinced, and the whole thing seems much less fun.
As for the good things, Hunter Foster is around again this week, and almost every scene with him and Michelle is perfect. The sibling relationship created here is incredibly believable, and extends into the introduction of their mother, about whom we only get a few details, but those few are enough to figure out why Michelle has broken off contact with her. If Bunheads is about any one thing, it’s most about growing up, and “Take the Vicuna” gives us a number of angles on maturation this week, with the glimpse of Michelle’s own role model as a child, and with her increasingly becoming a surrogate for a similarly troubled mini-me. That’s the most salvageable part of the episode, and if anything is taken from here going forward, I want further exploration of that dynamic.