Picking one reality show to focus on is actually a really hard decision. I wanted to pick a show that demonstrated everything wrong with reality TV but also something that is extremely popular. I chose Dance Moms. When watching the show the title does not seem to fit at first. The show appears to be about a dance group that competes in competitions nationwide, and does extremely well. The episodes show how the dancers learn each dance, how fast it is expected of them, and how talented these children are. This is not what the show is about. Like the title states this show is about the dancer’s mothers. There is so much drama in the show between Abby Miller (the owner and choreographer) and the mothers. Abby has a questionable teaching style with a big temper, but also has the best dance program in the country. The mothers fight with Abby constantly and fight with the idea of changing studios. In this particular episode Abby had wanted Kelly to paint a chair black, and put rubber stoppers on the bottom. This was so it would look good on stage and her daughter Paige would not have trouble dancing with it. Here is the clip:
The show is shot in the same documentary style as a lot of reality shows. This style I now know is called “comedy verité”. This means that the show “imitates the verité style of filming which viewers recognize from documentaries” (Fosher). This use of imitating a documentary style of filming gives audience the feeling that they are actually watching a documentary. Documentary’s usually present truthful information, by copying the style the creators of Dance Moms are able to subliminally tell their audience that this show is “real”. I think this is extremely interesting. When I watch this show I tend to allow myself to believe everything that is happening. I want this drama filled world to be real because it makes me laugh and is entertaining. However, when I finish watching the show I am no longer amused. I think about how fake most of the fights are, and even though they are fake how traumatizing these can be on the young girls within the competition dance group.
This clip specifically shows Abby and Kelly fighting. These two characters tend to fight a lot due to their history. The history they have is real and took place before this show began. Abby and Kelly grew up and danced together at the same studio when Abby’s mother owned it. Their fights to me as a viewer seem to be true, and not as scripted as the others. If you listen to the argument in the clip that fight gets very personal quickly. This is due to the long term relationship these women have. With the other moms it feels more forced, and more fake. Kelly and Abby’s relationship allows for better TV drama, but I also think that this reality TV show exploited it more than necessary. In the clip Abby freaks out over a chair, which when looking at the big picture does not seem that bad. But the shows need for drama allows Abby to take her anger to the next level and call Kelly out in front of her children. This is where the show tends to cross lines. Abby tends to involve the children and even tries to get them to turn against their parents. Sort of like when Abby turns to Paige in this clip and ask her how she feels about her mother’s mouth, and if she is embarrassed.
Most of the relationships within this clip, and show are forced and fake. But Abby and Kelly’s past relationship makes the forced and fake drama turn into real drama. During the most recent season Kelly hit Abby with a bag. Abby filed assault charges and Kelly and her daughters are no longer a part of Dance Moms or the Abby Lee Miller Dance Company.