Coverage from the 2012 winter Television Critics Association press tour begins later today (check back this afternoon for my first post) but first...
Fans of Lifetime’s “Dance Moms” (9 p.m.next Tuesday) will be relieved to know no one has matured; bullying, monstrous dance instructor Abby Lee Miller hasn’t improved her listening skills or had an extreme makeover of her abrasive, not-so-secretly insecure personality. The show is as much a train wreck as it was in its first season.
Filmed largely at a Penn Hills dance studio, “Dance Moms” has a few new Pittsburgh beauty shots – watch for the autumn leaves on trees in a shot of the Veterans Bridge – and dance mom Holly takes daughter Nia to The Milkshake Factory on Carson Street for a “let’s have a talk” scene that feels staged, but the most time is still spent in the claustrophobic viewing booth at Miller’s dance company. “Perfection is our goal. Excellence will be tolerated,” says one sign hanging on a wall there.
When Holly can’t be at a rehearsal, Abby has a snit fit. Why Holly needs to be there is not at all clear other than Abby’s desire for control.
“The kid needs somebody,” Abby says. “She’s not that swift.”
Abby may be the most immature, petulant adult ever featured on a reality show; and that’s saying something. She’s clearly intimidated by Holly’s intellect – Abby brings up the fact Holly has a doctorate, not Holly. Abby continues to taunt Holly by assigning Nia ethnically-themed songs (a tune from the musical “Once on this Island.)
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Christi remains the funniest, most caustic Dance Mom, saying in one confessional interview that if she were to give the generously-sized Abby a gift it would be “a three-month trial to Weight Watchers.”
“Everybody’s replaceable,” Christi says, parroting Abby’s mantra. “We know. We’ve heard. So are you.”
And yet, none of these moms pulls their child and quits. Either they’re dumb or addicted to reality show fame. Or possibly both.
In an effort to stir the pot, the producers have Abby stage auditions for a new dancer but it’s really an audition for a new dance mom to throw into the pit of vipers. A few of the women look like they’re there for their kids not auditioning themselves. But of course that’s not who gets picked. It’s the mom who’s dressed to the nines, Jill, who gets called up with daughter Kendal. Jill quick buddies up with Melissa, the dance mom most in thrall of Abby’s teaching.
“You save those tears for your pillow when you’re in your room at home,” Abby yells at one dance student, the equivalent of, "Stuff it down, honey!" It’s not quite, “No wire hangers!” But it will do.