The Dance Moms
return with the second half of their second season, and they come out swinging.
Much like Chinese factory conditions and African diamond mining, top-tier youth dancing is something that I'm vaguely aware of but try not to think about. I understand that professional dancers, much like iPhones and expensive jewelry, have to come from somewhere, but it's not until I see the process in action that the painful reality is driven home for me. I'd happily give $20 to any non-profit opposing whatever the hell is going on.An Awkward Reunion
When we last saw the Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miller stormed away from a disappointing performance. Tonight's premiere picks up in the aftermath of that fallout, with Abby, the Dance Moms, and the kids all awkwardly reuniting after a long hiatus.Targeting Chloe
In an apparent gesture of goodwill, Abby makes an effort to feature more of Chloe, the daughter of one of her frequent screaming partners. The gesture is rendered hollow, however, when Abby sets about undermining the young girl's new leadership position at every turn. Transparently hoping to justify her relative disinterest in Chloe by sparking a total breakdown in the poor girl, Abby gives her three dances in one week and then forces her peers to uncomfortably critique her, explicitly asking them to focus on what she does wrong.Pointless Conflict
Chloe thankfully prevails without cracking, but that doesn't stop Abby from forging ahead with a plan to replace Chloe's solo in the next competition. Abby informs the dance moms that she had already entered her favorite pupil, Maddie, in that week's Los Angeles competition--rather than issue a simple correction, she would rather feature Maddie than Chloe. Maddie is largely unprepared and uncomfortable with that plan, but Abby goes forward on the assumption that Maddie will be performing anyway.
When the competition arrives, Maddie's name is still the one entered. Because nobody can be bothered to tap the announcer on the shoulder and let him know that Chloe is actually the one performing, he announces Maddie as the Abby Lee solo dancer--this has the dual effect of demoralizing Chloe and making a frantic Maddie feel like she did something wrong. Chloe performs well under the circumstances, earning fifth place for her age group.Screaming Match
In spite of their solid overall scores, Abby Lee is not satisfied with their performances. She blames the girls, while the dance moms blame the choreography; the situation quickly dissolves into both sides throwing themselves behind whatever petty edge they can muster over the other, e.g. screamed grammar corrections and fat jokes. And that's the end of the show!
Season 2's second half is so far business as usual. Abby Lee Miller is a thoroughly unpleasant person, and I'm not sure why she has a television show. The titular moms aren't much better, as their incessant bickering with Abby and with each other only serves to model more selfish, petty behavior to their children.
As for the kids themselves, they're phenomenally talented and surprisingly sweet--they approach dancing with earnest enthusiasm, and are genuinely supportive of each other. I'm usually not much of an activist, but someone should rescue these kids from the noxious environment of Dance Moms
.Ted KindigContributing Writer(Image courtesy of Lifetime)