When a friend of mine suggested we try watching the new Lifetime reality series “Dance Moms”, I have to say I was a little apprehensive, if not a bit weary of the topic at hand. From the trailer, the show seemed like guilty pleasure material, but I wasn't exactly enthralled by the topic, nor did I expect much from yet another somewhat kitschytopic revolving around children performing on stage in skimpy outfits, overmakeuped and ultrasequencedd glory. From moment one, I was hooked on the high pressure and cruel world of child dance competitions. The Abby Lee Miller Dance Company sucked me in like a pop culture vacuum. Four episodes later I found myself obsessed with this ridiculous and downright cruel world of dance, not to mention doing metaphorical high kicks for trophies and shiny crowns.
Based in Pittsburg, Abby Lee Miller is more than just an overweight, pack-a-day voiced terror, she is a star maker with high expectations and a low threshold for children. Kids come ready to work, parents come ready to bedazzle and cameras stand by filming everything from tears to wins to knockdown, dragout brawls. The cast of zany and flat out insane mothers chosen as our main ensemble is pitch perfect. The completely psychotic look in their eyes as they fight for their child's (as well as their own pitiful) glory, is addictive and mind numbing. They push kids through muscle aches and ambivalence into walking targets. They are not only hit by the cruel judgement of Abby herself, but the golden trophy, just a grapevine away, that lies on the other side of the stage.
Image via WikipediaAbby has created a team of overgrown monsters gunning for their crown wearing spawn to jump to the top of the “Dance Pyramid”, or a stack of head-shots organized on a chalk board by talent and endurance. Each week ends with a competition and the Abby Lee Miller Dance company doesn't just come to dance, they come to annialate the competition (other six year olds in jazz shoes). Most of the time they succeed, yet in what has now become my favorite episode, entitled “Wildly Inappropriate”, the girls are dressed in full out S&M gear, dancing horrifically and far to maturely for their age to a song called “Electricity”. The mini Britney-Rihanna moves mixed with the hyper sexualized presentation caused the judges to eliminate the kids from prizing and rip an undefeated title straight out from under their insanely inappropriate electric blue hot pants.
While this is an absolute tragedy of childhood exploitation and only proves that some people should not be allowed to procreate, the only solise I can find in the mess that Abby Lee has created is, one of the most entertainingly terrible TV shows I've ever seen (and I've seen quite a few). From the alcoholic bleach blonde mom with too much money to the parent that cleans the dance floor to pay for seven day a week lessons, these mothers are an incredible specimen of drama bearing momagers with no shame, integrity or empathy. In what has now become the greatest sound byte in the show's brief history, one mom calls her daughter a “Prositot”. If you're looking for a fantastic and shameful escape from every day life, I cannot recommend “Dance Moms” more. This is appointment television if I have ever seen it. Put down your book, stop checking your email, don't bother feeling sorry for yourself because life is harder than you expected. Just think, at least you're not these people. It's uplifting isn't it?