‘Bunheads’ recap: Episode 7, ‘What’s Your Damage Heather?’

Michelle (Sutton Foster, right) and Sasha (Julia Goldani-Telles) square off.

We’re surprised it took six episodes to lead up to the inevitable plot point where Michelle becomes a dance teacher for the bunheads. Blessedly, we don’t waste even more time, because that’s how this episode starts out: Michelle is telling tiny dancers (hee) how to bend and pose (it’s not as Elle Woods as it sounds, but we’d totally take that class). But then the toddler class needs a potty break, so she shoos them off before they piddle on the brand new studio flooring.

Apparently Boo is in charge of scheduling classes, as she informs Michelle about how the rest of her day is shaping up, with Jazzercise and line dancing and everything in between. Does Boo get anything out of this? We’re doubting she gets a paycheck since no one at the school actually pays. Michelle says she’s grateful Fanny’s coming back from her weeklong vacation tomorrow, but Boo informs her that Fanny extended her trip until next week. We also learn that Fanny has Facebook. Hmmm. We’d like to see that feed.

Then Michelle meets Boo’s mom, who’s come to pick her up (late). She sees the new pole in the middle of the room and asks if Boo’s learning how to strip, adding that she always encouraged her daughter to have something to fall back on. A child runs screaming past with a tutu on her head and Michelle sighs. It’s going to be a long week.

The girls are gossiping about Sasha, who they haven’t heard from since she got in trouble last episode. Ginny’s planning a spectacular eighth anniversary with Josh, in the meantime, which involves food trucks and a concert. And putting out, maybe? Just a thought, he might get the wrong idea when he hears that she has an “amazing night” planned. Previous anniversaries have involved a murder mystery dinner and seeing “Hotel for Dogs.” Just then, Josh calls to cancel because he’s putting together her mom’s entertainment cabinet that’s apparently from IKEA and not a legit store that would deliver that thing fully built or at least install it. The new plan is just to get sushi with Ginny’s mom. See, if she were sleeping with him he’d feel less indebted to going out of his way to prove his worth just to earn a little time with the 80%.

Michelle’s exhausted from dancing all day, but when her last class ends she realizes there’s a leak and the dressing room is flooding. She calls Truly for help and now we learn by proxy that Fanny’s also on Twitter (and Truly follows her, of course). Truly helpfully suggests calling a plumber (good luck finding one that’s OK not being paid until next paying season) and adds, “Let me know how it goes, I’m part of this now.” She’s growing on us!

The solution to the flooded dressing room is letting the girls change in Michelle’s shack, though it seems like they could just as easily change … in any other room of the studio or the main house. Anyway! They of course rifle through all of Michelle’s things and judge her for them, and Sasha, who’s never one to shy from a crime much less a judging spree, shows up right on cue. Her punishment for being a rebel and staying out all night and wrecking the car is a day at the spa and getting a seemingly unlimited “emergency” credit card. The girls try to psychoanalyze Michelle by her belongings, and we know we’d be in trouble if this happened to us.

During class later, we actually get to see more dancing, yay! It’s our four girls, and then the class is filled out with probably real dancers plus Ray Ray, our token black cast member. (To be fair, there are also token boy dancers.) Davis, the one-eyed fixer man, and Truly managed to get everything under control. Michelle has to dry out the rest of the dressing room and Boo offers to help. Sasha says she’s already “helping” by loaning her hair dryer. But Michelle winds up recruiting them anyway.

She treats the girls to anything they want at Oyster Bar for helping out; they say it’s the only thing open at that hour, but as far as we know it’s the only restaurant in town. We learn Fanny has rules for the girls’ diet that they’re currently breaking, as well as guidelines for how they dress and their extracurriculars. She also has rules for Ginny taping down her boobs, which leads to a conversation about sex and what guys like in terms of T&A. (Sasha: “I’d better find one who likes a defined clavicle or I’m dying alone.”) During this time, Boo keeps getting up to work even though she’s off the clock until Michelle yells at her to stop; Michelle also puts fried food in her salad, which seems pretty rude to us, as is undermining anyone’s dietary choices as long as they’re not harming themselves or constantly humblebragging about it. Michelle also reveals to the girls that she was super slutty when she was their age, proving herself yet again to be a stellar role model.

When Michelle gets back to the studio, she catches Truly making out with the one-eyed plumber. But she chases them out too soon, because right when they leave the ceiling starts to leak again. She sleeps on the floor next to a bucket overnight, which we’ve also done but for totally different reasons. When she returns to her glorified tool shed, the girls have been hanging out there because they thought it was always open to them. At least she didn’t catch them making out? She shoos them out, too.

On Monday, Ginny’s being cold to Josh for no apparent reason. She stood him up when he came to pick her up at school as he has for the past eight years. He’s being super clingy toward her and even follows her into the ladies’ room. Don’t worry Josh, she just needs a change of pace.

Michelle follows up with Truly to make sure their almost-friendship is intact. She asks about the history with David the plumber, but the real problem is that Truly is still in love with Hubbell and feels like she was cheating. Michelle gives her permission to move on, which is ironic since she’s actually Hubbell’s widow.

In class later, Sasha shows up wearing a shirt she stole from Michelle’s house. That’s so easy to get caught doing, we’re almost disappointed by her attention-seeking antics. Then she comes late to class; Fanny wouldn’t stand for that behavior but Sasha is proving that she doesn’t respect Michelle. Rebelling against her parents didn’t work at all, so now she’s looking for a new source. Michelle gives her a lecture, including the titular, “What’s your damage, Heather?” Michelle is mostly angry that Sasha is forcing Michelle to be a disciplinarian, which isn’t in her nature. However, the yelling works because Sasha shows up composed to finish the rest of the class. We must say that Julia Goldani-Telles, who plays Sasha, is hitting it out of the park.

Boo’s mom actually shows up to pick her up on time, but the mom flipping out this time is Ginny’s because she broke up with Josh. And she (the mom) apparently blames Michelle’s influence. Also, Ginny doesn’t have a dad, which I think we just learned. It seems like Ginny’s mom, Claire, has been pressuring her to stay with Josh because she’s tangentially getting to have a man around the house again and that’s honestly super sad. She threatens to pull Ginny out of the school, but is happy Fanny’s coming back so that Ginny won’t be spending more time with Michelle.

Michelle is sulking about how much she’s screwing up. She was trying to be the girls’ friend but she realizes she can’t do that and be their teacher, too. Nanette, Boo’s mom, comes in to talk to her and offer some comfort. We’re really slow on the uptake, but we just realized she’s going to be the Sookie to Michelle’s Lorelai. It’s all falling into place! Michelle relates how her own mother was a “non-mother” who she called Deb. She says she’s not kid-friendly, she’s “all sharp corners and a pool with no cover.” Nanette reassures Michelle that she’s having a bigger influence than she thinks.

Later, Male!Mel recruits Boo to learn what’s going on with Ginny. He wants to date her now that she’s finally single for the first time since she was like 6. He asks Boo to talk to Ginny on his behalf, which is so heartbreaking! Not that we want Boo with Charlie anyway, but it’d be great if she could get over him instead. Ginny’s flattered by the attention and says that Michelle was right, she should be dating around. Now Boo resents Michelle for giving Ginny the idea to take Charlie from her, because all of that makes total sense in an adolescent girl’s head. Now we feel bad for Michelle, too! But at least we get a lovely zoom-out of the garden tool shed, which from our cluttered NYC perspective does indeed seem like a slice of Paradise.


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