By Alexandra Noble
Have you ever wondered how much of a reality TV show is real and how much of it is scripted? It’s hard to believe some of the shows we watch on TV could possibly be how people act in real life. In this day and age, the main purpose of TV is to entertain us. Generally, people just want something to watch on TV that doesn’t work their brain an excessive amount and that takes little to no energy to watch. Watching a reality TV show that is completely ridiculous is a lot more entertaining and lighthearted than watching the news. “Dance Moms” is one of those TV shows. Abby Lee Miller runs a dance studio called the Abby Lee Dance Company. The studio was originally founded by her mother, Maryen Lorrain Miller. The show is set in Pittsburgh, PA and follows the stories of young dancers Maddie, Mackenzie, Chloe, Brooke, Paige, Nia, Kendall, Kalini, as well as many other dancers who have come and gone from the show. Along with the girls, the show highlights the tension and drama between their crazy dance moms and dance teacher, Abby. But are the moms and Abby really that crazy? Or are they not made out to be as crazy as they truly are? In every episode of the show, there are tears, laughter, screaming, chaos but most importantly, drama. It’s hard not to think about and question how much of this show is reality and how much of it is scripted and staged so that viewers want to keep watching it. Afterall, why watch a boring show that doesn’t have any excitement to it? No one wants to do that. So instead, TV writers and producers edit the show to be exactly what they want the public to see, whether it be true or not. The behind-the-scenes drama of “Dance Moms” is what makes the show so great and makes people want more. Based on the on-camera drama that the audience gets to watch and experience, it’s sole purpose is to entertain. There is no question that the show is edited in both a negative and positive way, but the backstage occurrences that the world does not see is where the truth comes out.
When watching the show, it’s shocking to see some of the ways that Abby talks to and treats the girls. The harsh and intense treatment that is portrayed by her is scary to think that that is reality for them. In an article written by Rebecka Schumann, she mentions that the show’s initial purpose was to showcase the girls and their dancing, not the drama of the moms and Abby. If you’ve ever watched the show, you know that maybe 40% of the show showcases the actual dancing by the girls and the other 60% has to do with the drama between Abby, the moms, as well as the girls. The initial intent for the show was not to have Abby as the star, but to feature and showcase the girls’ dancing. The show was supposed to be following the lives of five dancers and their very involved mothers. As you can tell, that is still part of the show but there is a whole other level of the show that was created based on the original concept.
According to the girls, Abby is a lot worse in person than the producers of the show make her appear. In the same article by Schumann, ALDC dancer Brooke Hyland states, “Yeah, she’s really mean. Don’t like her.” Along with Brooke, ALDC dancer Chloe Lukasiak’s opinion of Abby is that “She’s worse in real life.” If you’ve seen the show, you know how awful Abby can be. Can you imagine what worse ways Abby could possibly treat these girls? If she is worse in real life, there must be some type of editing that is done by the producers to give the show a certain image that they want the public to see. Whether or not Abby is better or worse in real life is something that the public may never know. Dance mom Kelly Hyland talk about whether or not the show is scripted or no. She says “The show is not scripted or staged…It is just very edited… to make me look bad.” It takes a lot of editing and effort to twist a show into such a dramatic and crazy scene. Nonetheless, the “Dance Moms” producers make their show seem very realistic, even if it is not.
Another contradicting topic when it comes to dance moms is whether or not the the girls are actually friends. When you watch the show, the girls are always in such competition with each other. It’s hard to imagine being best friends with a person that you are always competing against. However, whether you believe it or not, the “Dance Moms” not only consider themselves best friends, but sisters as well. In regards Abby’s infamous pyramid, one would think that the girl’s get angry at each other for each one’s placement. According to Schumann, the girls actually enjoy pyramid and makes bets on who is going to be placed where. Chloe says “It doesn’t really bother me that much. I actually kinda get excited for pyramid.” When going onto Instagram, whether it be the girls’ or the moms’, you will see countless pictures of the girls having fun together. The initial purpose of the show is to show the dance competitions between the girls so of course the producers are going to make it seem like there is tension and unhappiness between them. But behind closed doors, the girls are best friends and do everything together. This same concept goes for the moms. The tension and arguing between the dance moms would lead one to believe that they never get along and do not like each other. In a Reunion Recap article, the author writes that “Christi wishes the viewers could see more of the fun times the moms and daughters share with one another. Christi touts Kelly, Holly, and Melissa as her support group, and Kelly chimes in that the girls truly are the best of friends outside of the studio when they aren’t dancing.” If the producers of the show showed more of the reality behind what actually goes on between the cast, I think the show would have a whole new feel.
Every reality TV show has its twists and turns. The point of reality TV is to entertain and keep the audience watching. When it comes down to it, the producer of any show will edit it however they need to in order to keep the entertainment factor of a show. When it comes to “Dance Moms,” it is clear that the show is made out to be highly different than it truly is. The actions of Abby Lee Miller are dumbed down from what they actually are. When it comes to friendships, the cast are actually best friends and not enemies that the show can often times portray them to be. It’s easy to believe reality TV and the false ways that TV networks produce the shows.