The Shmooze

Does ‘Bunheads’ Have a Diversity Problem, Too?

By Samantha Malone

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Amy Sherman-Palladino

With “Girls” creator Lena Dunham the center of a critical controversy about a perceived lack of diversity on television, Amy Sherman-Palladino has been fielding similar accusations about her new show, “Bunheads.” Shonda Rhimes, the head writer and executive producer of “Greys Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” expressed her disappointment in the new ABC Family show by tweeting “Hey @abcbunheads: really? You couldn’t cast even ONE young dancer of color so I could feel good about my kid watching this show? NOT ONE?”

Sherman-Palladino is the same woman that brought us the fast-talking mother-daughter pair Lorelai and Rori in “Gilmore Girls.” Back in 2005, she chatted with the New York Times about how she, a Jewish woman from Los Angeles, came to write a series all about Connecticut WASPs. In an interview with the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, she went so far as to joke: “By year seven, everyone on the show will be Jewish…Believe me, it’s going to be the Chabad telethon.”

“Bunheads” has a similar small-town feel to “Gilmore Girls,” with kooky neighbors and a standard “I don’t get along with my family” conflict. The show centers on Michelle, a Las Vegas showgirl who marries a man she hardly knows and moves to his small hometown, only to find that he still lives with his over-bearing mother. After a series of unfortunate but predictable events, Michelle begins working in her mother-in-law’s dance school.

Rhimes may have a point about the all-vanilla cast. In the episode “For Fanny,” for example, there is only one multiracial young dancer and she as a single minor line of dialogue with a group of girls. This token dancer appears only in the background at one other point in the episode.

For her part, though, Sherman-Palladino answered Rhimes’s criticism by saying that women in television should stick together, rather than tearing down one another’s work. “Look, I’m not going to get into a pissing match with Shonda Rhimes, because she has 15,000 shows on the air, and she’s doing just fine for herself,” she told Media Mayhem. “[But] I’ve always felt that women, in a general sense, have never supported other women the way they should…I think it’s a shame, but to me, it is what it is.” She also defended the show with claims that the budding series faced time and budget restraints that prevented her from putting together a dream cast.

Still, the Shmooze notes that all of the young “Bunheads” dancers are stereotypical rich, white girls — and seem, at least at the outset, much like “Gilmore Girls” WASPs. It also bears noting that variation in skin color is not the only type of diversity we might expect to see on television. Tokenism aside, we’ll be curious to see whether Sherman-Palladino writes in any Jewish dancers.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shonda Rhimes, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Gilmore Girls, Bunheads

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.