When Bunheads returns for the back half of its freshman season, a lot has changed in such a short time passed. After Michelle’s (Sutton Foster) epic fail of macing her dance students at the annual Nutcracker performance, she fled back to Nevada, where she is wallowing in self-pity, fancy leftovers, and a little second-hand magic because she is working as a magician’s assistant. If you thought Michelle had a low opinion of herself before, just wait. But in true Amy Sherman-Palladino fashion, Michelle will find a sense of self-worth through the eclectic family she was forced into when she moved to Paradise in the first place.
“She has a little bit of a loser complex. She’s like ‘I’m a loser; everywhere I go, I’m a tornado and I keep screwing things up, so I’m just going to go back to [Nevada] and here maybe I won’t explode’,” Foster said when LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with her last month.
“What’s sad is she doesn’t even go back to Vegas, she goes to Henderson, which is this little town outside of Vegas, and she’s not dancing; she’s working as a back-up magician’s assistant, and he’s a really bad magician! It’s just a bad existence. But in true Michelle fashion…is this her new goal in life? No, this is just what she knows. She can come back, hide out, escape, and just not deal—not deal with life or responsibility or any type of authority.”
Before the end of the return episode, “Do You Wanna See Something?”, thanks in part to Fanny (Kelly Bishop), Michelle will find her way back to Paradise, where she is more welcomed than she would expect. After accidentally macing the children, after all, the entire town was up in arms, and Michelle had assumed they would physically drive her out if she didn’t leave on her own.
“There’s a definite surprise revealed there. I think she made more of an impact than she ever thought. She values herself pretty low. She has pretty low self-esteem. She’s definitely not an optimist-- she’s sort of a pessimist—but people see things in her that she doesn’t see in herself,” Foster said.
“What’s exciting about this last half of the season is we’re starting to see-- through certain new characters that are introduced-- a window into why Michelle is the way she is. That’s really exciting, and through that, maybe Michelle will have some growth.”
The main character that Foster is referencing here is Michelle’s brother—played by Foster’s real life brother Hunter Foster—who will pop up in Paradise after his fourth failed marriage. Foster previewed that he and Michelle are really “two sides to the same coin,” but we will also meet their mother this season, played by Lolita Davidovich, which will allow us to understand why they’re both a little bit broken.
“He’s actually the female version of Michelle in many ways. It’s actually kind of interesting: we’re both a bit wayward; we’re both a bit fumbling; and there’s reasons why. We’re close—we’re very, very close…He comes to stay with me, and a lot of stuff is revealed, which is cool to see because you think of Michelle, and you think of her as kind of a singular character, so it’s interesting to bring in a family member and see what that does,” Foster said.
Though Bunheads will certainly be delivering insight into Michelle for the audience, Foster admitted it’s still going to be a “long road” for Michelle to have enough insight into herself to see why she reacts the way she does at times. There is certainly hope that through Fanny, and the girls, and her job teaching, Michelle can start to have a bit of a breakthrough, but it may be a slow burn, since Foster pointed out it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to watch Michelle if she were a completely together character. Still, she has to get herself together before she could possibly make a real relationship work.
“What I hope for Michelle is that she finds a stability and a sense of self without a man,” Foster said.
“I want her to find her footing without a guy, and then maybe love can come in. We’ll see. I have no idea; I actually have no idea. I do know there’s some fun on the horizon, but I don’t think she’ll be settling into a relationship any time soon!”
Bunheads airs on ABC Family on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
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