The cast and creator of the short-lived but beloved ABC Family show Bunheads reunited at the ATX Television Festival (minus the titular bunheads) on Friday, with Amy Sherman-Palladino, Sutton Foster, Kelly Bishop, and Stacey Oristano in attendance. “Because we’ve all moved on to other things,” Foster told Flavorwire, “I’m excited to come back and honor this special little thing that we created and have people that loved it be there to celebrate it.”
For Sherman-Palladino, who also created Gilmore Girls , the show offered an opportunity to create a “world of women” who can use “each other as support systems.” As seen with Foster’s character, showgirl-turned-instructor Michelle, there’s also a focus on “fascinating” women who made bad choices and now have to figure out their lives.
The four main girls on the show, Julia Goldani Telles (Sasha), Kaitlyn Jenkins (Boo), Bailey Buntain (Ginny), and Emma Dumont (Melanie), were deliberately cast; Sherman-Palladino had specific ideas about the body types and training levels that were important to the story. For returning ASP ensemble members like Liza Weil (who played Rory’s rival/best friend Paris on Gilmore Girls), who wasn’t on the panel but played Milly Stone, it was a dream to work for her again. “It was nice to be able to be an adult and just feel comfortable, and I got to enjoy it a bit more,” she told Flavorwire. “It felt more like we were two people that get to work together.”
ABC Family “didn’t know what to do with us,” according to Sherman-Palladino. The Bunheads girls weren’t like the other girls on the network. The budget was so small that elaborate scenes, like Sasha’s “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” routine, were filmed in a single day, and Sherman-Palladino paid out of pocket at times. Bunheads’ demise was something they were prepared for.
The panel ended with the farewell dance scene that served as a proper goodbye to the show. Jackson Douglas, who also directed two episodes, rustled up the gear and money to shoot the routine that brought the four girls back together in the summer of 2013, after the series’ cancellation. Oristano rightly asked about the DVD, but Sherman-Palladino’s contact at ABC Family left, so she told fans that she has no one to pester about it.
The morning was bittersweet for Bishop. “It was really sweet, poignant, kind of sad, and deeply funny,” she told Flavorwire. “I’ve forgotten how funny it was.” At one point during the panel, Foster softly said, “I wish we had more time.”