This post originally appeared on Rhyme et Reason.
I have a confession. It took only one episode of a 24-hour summer marathon of “Dance Moms” for me to be simultaneously horrified, fascinated, disgusted and wanting to watch more.
The brutal power dynamic between Abby Lee Miller, the abrasive and tyrannical dance coach, and the group of insecure, manipulating moms who are vicariously living through their daughters’ dreams of becoming dancers is the crux of the “reality” TV show. The young dancers, who range from 6 to 13 years old, are pawns in the moms’ power struggles amongst themselves and with Abby Lee, whose single-minded goal is to make the girls top-notch dancers at any cost.
And let’s not forget all the problematic gendering of Abby Lee Dance Company – the sexualization of girl dancers in skimpy outfits and eyebrow-raising dance moves; the girls’ ease in putting on their own garish make-up; how Abby Lee seems to always give 9 year-old Nia, who is the only African-American girl in the group, the “ethnic” dances. And, oh yeah, the stereotypical image of a group of women being catty, hysterical, self-absorbed and manipulative. (When it comes to reality TV, what can you expect?)
The season 2 premiere of Dance Moms (“Everyone’s Replaceable”) aired on Tuesday and I finally caught up last night. Here’s an unfinished list of what I’ve learned from sporadically watching season 1 and now season 2:
- Don’t mess with Abby Lee Miller. She knows what’s best for your daughter (rigid, unrelenting discipline, six hours of dance, 7 days a week) and she’ll always be the better parent than you.
- Don’t bother being an educated, working mom. Your job is to devote your life and your time to making your daughter’s dance dreams come true. Oh, you have to work this weekend and miss your daughter’s competition in North Carolina? You don’t give a shit about your daughter. But Abby does.
- Dance moms are a tight knit and caring group, which explains why they’re always disparaging each other behind their backs. So be suspicious of any new moms to the group. Trust. no. one.
- Why do you put yourself and your daughter through Abby Lee’s mental and emotional abuse? Because she’s the best in town and by God, your daughter’s going to be a star!
- Be a team player. It’s Abby’s way or the highway. You don’t want to be like Cathy and Vivi-Anne, do you?
Watch new episodes of Dance Moms at 9p.m., Tuesday, on Lifetime.