What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this spin-off of the popular reality series Dance Moms is more of the same the cattiness, bickering, and competitive temper that viewers came to expect from the original by casting loud, opinionated women who love to mix it up backstage while their kids match skills on the dance floor. Besides the geographical relocation, a couple of other aspects have changed over the original: There are men involved, in the forms of the two dance instructors and one student, which changes the group dynamic; and the kids are older in this show, which means more revealing costumes, "grown-up" dance moves, and additional encouragement to dress and act to a certain image. What hasn't changed, though, is the moms' infatuation with living vicariously through their kids and their determination to catapult their respective kids to the top of the podium at any cost. Language ("bitch," "hell," etc.) and negative messages about healthy competition and sportsmanship are a major concern for tweens in this over-the-top reality show.
What's the story?
DANCE MOMS: MIAMI gives viewers a second backstage pass to eavesdrop on the workings of competitive dancers -- and more importantly, their moms -- as they train for national competitions. Set in the well respected Stars Dance Studio in Miami, this follow-up series to Dance Moms spotlights five new dancers: class leader Jessi, laid-back Hannah, petite Kimmy, newcomer Sammy, and Lucas, the troupe's lone boy. Mixing things up in the waiting room are the kids' moms: Susan, Debi, Ani, Abby, and Brigette, respectively. Under the direction of studio owners/instructors Victor and Angel, these dancers have their eyes set on multiple national titles this season, but to get there, they'll have to first meet the approval of their toughest critics -- and fiercest supporters -- their moms.
Is it any good?
This excessive show offers precious little substance and serves as a prime example of how wrong reality TV can go. It's hard to believe that any aspect hasn't been staged in some way, nor do these wealthy, flamboyant moms who love to make spectacles of themselves and apparently live to strong-arm their kids into a hobby in any way reflect the average parent. (Or, at least, one would hope not.) Sure, we all want to be our children's biggest cheerleaders, but these women take that role to dangerous extremes, and the infighting that results sends damaging messages about the true spirit of competition and the relationship between a parent and child. What's more, it's the adults' bad behavior that usually rubs off on their kids and instigates animosity where none previously existed.
Fans of the original Dance Moms will find plenty more of the controversy here in Miami that kept things interesting in Abby Lee's studio. Interestingly, her Floridian counterparts, Victor and Angel, often come across as the voices of reason amid the mom-instigated madness, and there are some genuinely touching moments between them and their students. They're still steel-nails tough on the dancers and encourage competition among them by rating them in everyone's presence, but there are some instances in which they step in to tone down an overbearing mom for the kids' sake. Sadly, though, no amount of bedazzling could shine this series to the point of admiration, which is a shame, considering the kids at the heart of it are truly talented dancers.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the subjects of this show. What do you think was their motivation for getting involved? Do you think they play up the negative aspects of their relationships for the camera? What could they hope to gain from allowing such unflattering behavior to be filmed? Does the series showcase the kids' talent enough?
Teens: How do you resolve differences of opinion within your family? What types of issues are up for discussion and which ones are subject to your parents' rules alone? Do you find it easy to talk to your parents honestly about your feelings? What might make it easier for you to do so?
What is the purpose of reality TV shows like this one? Do you find this entertaining? Does it offer anything in the way of positive content or life lessons? Should it? How has reality TV changed the nature of our entertainment celebrity status? What does that say about our society's infatuation with stardom?