Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dance, Dance Revolution

I have a new television obsession. It doesn't involve gowns, pregnant teenagers, or weight loss.

Two words: DANCE MOMS.

I used to think that the tagline: "Lifetime- Television for Women" should have been "Lifetime- Television for Women. Old Women."

That was until, the LT (since it's so cool now we're totes abbrev it) started showing reruns of one of my favorite shows of all time, "Will & Grace," at not only 11:00 am but 11:00 pm as well! Cut to a few years later when the LT finally acquired the rights to new seasons of "Project Runway" after a lengthy battle with the Weinstein Company. At first I was all sad to see PR leave Bravo, like when a little kid that moves out of their childhood home. Then they did that season in LA and I was like "eh..." plus that super boring girl Leanne won. Now it is back and just as good as it ever was, and I realized that I would watch Tim Gunn on any network, including the Food Network, which everyone who knows me knows that that is one channel I do not touch. I honestly have no clue what number it even is on my guide.

Then I slowly started watching more LT because I was trying to get into "How I Met Your Mother." One of the main reasons I have never watched this show is because it's on CBS. I haven't watched CBS since "The Nanny" was on, and the only show I know that's on CBS currently besides HIMYM are the NCIS or CSI or one of those other abbreviated shows that has 8,000 location based spinoffs. And of the Big 3 it's totally the old people's network. There, I said it.

Then, only a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon LT's latest gem, featuring the emphysema ridden "dance teacher" Abby Lee Miller (whom I have never heard of, but they say her full name as if I should know who she is) and the Moms that pay her to degrade their children, which is ridiculous, because when I was a kid, moms just did that for free (not my mother, of course. Shoutout, Doreen!).

The most confusing thing about this show is how Abby has somehow built this dance empire without actually ever doing any sort of movement at all. Now I am a horrible dancer, so maybe I am in the wrong here questioning her methods, but my husband's mother is a dance teacher so therefore by proximity I now can pretend I know things about teaching children to dance. And one thing I know for sure is that when she teaches a class, she puts on a leotard and dance shoes and actually shows them, oh I don't know, a dance step?! Abby wears flip flops, red lipstick and a ever present grimace.

So that's the backstory on ABBY LEE MILLER *fanfare* and her star-making dance studio. Now, onto tonight's episode. I was particularly excited for this one because some good extra crazy went down last week after Christi had it out with Abby backstage at another one of their "competitions," which somehow are every weekend and have a maximum of 20 audience members. Christi is the best kind of crazy mom, because she's entitled ("I pay YOUR bills!") and she thinks her kid is most amazing dancer EVER even though this girl Maddie clearly steals the show from her Chloe every single week. I mean, Chloe has never even been on the top of the pyramid. Sad.

After the jazzy Dance Mom credits ("my world is with my giiiiirls," c'mon, you know the words!) I died laughing immediately because the first image that came on the screen was a close up of "The Donut Connection," which let's face it, is clearly Abby's favorite eatery. This is where Christi and Abby chose to meet up to settle their differences. Christi still felt that Abby was in the wrong, but she was willing to take the high road. "I think I deserve an apology too," she said. "But I think I'll be the bigger woman." Unfortunately for Christi, that is literally impossible if you happen to be in the same room as Abby.

Abby wasn't having any of this, and immediately presented Christi with a contract outlining all of the things she can and cannot do in order for Christi to keep spending $23,000 a year (or so she said in episode 1) on ruining what is left of Chloe's childhood. I was hoping for more of a public throwdown that would result in Abby being banned from the Donut Connection for life, but she's gotta have stock options in that place or something. She hightailed it out of there so quick after serving Christi those papers that she knocked some poor Granny in a green coat out of the way so she could get out the door.

Then it was that magical time where the girls and moms get to come in the studio and hear about what a terrible job they did that previous week. But Abby wasn't going to live in the past- this weekend is going to be the ALDC Showcase, the most important event of all! We know that because Abby wrote it on the chalkboard in crazy sideways Unabomber handwriting. You must be thinking, that has to be some sort of fancy dance competition with lights and trophies and AquaNet! Think again- it's merely the Abby Lee Dance Company Showcase. What's the point of dancing if there's no chance of a trophy?! That would be like, doing it for fun, which is not what dancing is about! Now get to work grinding down those hip bones!

In an ironic twist, Abby decided that this week the Moms would take a break from living vicariously through their children and actually perform a number in the show themselves, which I think was her way of getting those crazy be-otches to stop staring at her from the viewing room and would inevitably lead to them taking each other out, Hunger Games style. And just to really prove that she absolutely hates all of them, she let bat sh*t crazy Cathy choreograph. For 5 minutes the pointe shoe was on the other foot and the girls got to sit in the viewing room and mock the Moms while they attempted to learn their routine, and for a moment, all was right in the world.

Later Abby was still punishing Christi for her behavior and forced her to promote the showcase street team style with Kelly. As they ran around town all afternoon trying to force young people who looked like they would prefer to be on a reality show for ANYTHING else to attend a children's dance recital, they seemed shocked that no one was honored to be presented with an invite. To lift their spirits, it was time for a little detour for some "Mommy Juice" (somebody please buy me that cup someday) which they decided looked enough like iced tea that they could take their cups to the street, Pennsylvania open container laws be damned.

Back at the studio, the Moms were hard at work nailing down their dance the night before the showcase. But where, oh where was Holly? After whipping out the Blackberry on speakerphone (reality TV show staple!) the Moms were horrified to discover that not only was Holly not attending practice, but she wouldn't even be in the showcase at all! Cathy was appalled because she couldn't believe all of Holly's African dance experience was going to go unused (her words, not mine) and she only mildly insulted the other Moms by crying out "but you're like, the best one here!" What could be keeping Holly from her moment in the sun? Unfortunately her weekend planner was already full, because she would in fact be graduating college... with her doctorate. I would like to go on record as saying this doesn't change my opinion of her at all because nobody who is intelligent would ever spend that much to have a crazy chain smoker degrade their child and call it teaching. Also, don't you think it's weird that Holly pretended like she was going to be in the show all week, and then acted like this graduation suddenly came up? And if your mom was graduating, wouldn't you be there instead of the stupid showcase that doesn't even give you the chance to win some sort of trophy? I call BS.

Finally, Cesar the Broadway Casting Agent showed up and shocked all the girls because I guess they've never seen a mohawk in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. One by one, the girls failed (even pyramid topper Maddie!) to impress Cesar with their lack of reading comprehension and conversational skills of tiny dancing robots. The moms were feeling the pressure too, I mean it almost seemed like Melissa doubted whether or not she made the right decision continually pulling her girls out of school for dance related activities. Abby says dance is more important than school, so who needs world history?! Can your daughter do a deboulé? Didn't think so.

My favorite moment of the casting process had to be when Cesar kicked Abby out of her own studio for making the kids too nervous. No, wait, it was when Melissa punished both of her kids for crying. Ah, I take it back, it was when the audition ended and Cesar fled the building like a frightened gay deer. Or was it when Nia wished that her mom had skipped graduation to scream at her for not being good enough in the dressing room with all the other moms? Never mind, there were just too many quality "Dance Mom" moments to choose from. Let's call the whole thing off.

The whole showcase was pretty boring if you asked me. None of the Moms got drunk and none of the girls cried. Abby was caged in the sound booth and for once nary a word was heard from her. However, in a not at all unplanned twist, Cesar (I don't know if you know this but he is a casting agent, like from BROADWAY) pulled Maddie and Melissa aside in the least discrete way possible and told her in a stage whisper that she was basically way better than every other girl there. Naturally, Christi was upset because it validated her conspiracy theory that this entire showcase was only a platform to promote the Maddie machine. I don't know if Christi realizes that the more she talks about it, the more clips are shown of Maddie leaping and twirling at an obviously higher level than her classmates, which is only further promoting her dancing abilities!

Next week, it's back to inappropriate costumes and afternoon drinking. Thank you, Lifetime, for bringing us this shining beacon of reality tv during an otherwise boring prime time summer hiatus.


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