We are three episodes into Dance Moms Season 2, and the storylines have emerged. (We all know they use writers, right? OK, good.) Since I get that question all the time, I thought I’d take a moment to look at the storylines from a writerly perspective. I personally have not written for reality television, but typically, what happens is that the writers write scenarios, and the cast then gets thrown into the scenarios — knowingly or unknowingly.
The A storyline: The girls are National Champions so everyone will be trying to bring them down.
This is typical coach motivation — Abby’s tactic to grind the girls even harder so they don’t get lazy and full of themselves. Also it’s plain true and is probably exactly what Abby would do if cameras were not on her. And from a plot point, we need to still feel there is conflict.
The B storyline: Guess what? ALDC now has an evil rival dancing school, Candy Apples, who will do anything to beat them, including lie about their dancers’ ages and manipulate the judging system.
Writing 101 — Set up a foil! You’ve seen Glee, right? And that cheerleading series with Kirstin Dunst? The Candy Apple girls, including the studio owner Cathy (Dance Mom’s Sue Sylvester), are the show’s antagonists. The more outrageous the better!
The C storyline: Brooke abandons dance for cheerleading, but will the girls be able to compete without her?
If you noticed, this plot was set up in the first episode of this season with Abby’s mantra: “Everyone’s replaceable.” In the season opener, Abby holds an audition to replace Vivi-anne. At the audition, another important plot point was established when Payton was cut from the auditions for being too old (even though she is roughly the same age as Brooke), and her pushy mom blew a gasket. Abby then used this to threaten a moody, unmotivated Brooke by saying that Payton would be happy to take her place if she didn’t step it up. Brooke, as has been in the works since last season, instead chose to try out for the football cheerleading team in the MIDDLE of football season… because clearly her school doesn’t need cheerleaders until they are six games in (but shhh, don’t pay attention to things like that.) Then of course, as was fairly obvious when Payton’s mom got so much air time in the first episode, Payton will take Brooke’s place until the prodigal Brooke realizes later in the season that she misses dance and has to battle it off with Payton and Payton’s crazy mom for her old spot. (My little prediction.)
The D storyline: Chloe vs. Maddie.
This rivalry was the key storyline last year. The second season of Dance Moms started so early in the competition season that neither girl is facing any real competition from anyone else since most schools don’t hit the competition circuit until January, so they are pretty much just trading off 1st overalls between them. (Yes, I used to compete in dance competitions.) Also, vital from a plot point is that whenever Chloe wins, Abby must tear her down, because Chloe must remain the underdog in order for Christi to have shit to yell about. And of course Melissa’s role is to be in utter denial that there could be anyone better than Maddie, the show’s Lea Michele. I’m sure there is some truth to these character sketches but they have been exaggerated to make good television.
We also have minor characters like Nia, the African American dancer who was battling flexed feet and racism last season — yeah, racism, they went there, probably just to give Holly, Nia’s very accomplished mom with the PhD, some smart thing to pontificate about. Then there was Mackenzie, as the quirky little sis with the funny jabs. (Because there’s always one of those. I’m surprised they don’t put her in weird glasses.) And lastly, there’s Paige, as the pretty blonde sidekick BFF who never gets any lines but who usually at some point, will say or do something that puts everything in perspective and then you understand why they didn’t cut that role.
Anyway, who cares? The kids have talent, work hard, and support one another, which is a good example to kids. And I don’t want to call DYFS on any of the moms, even if they dress in sequined blouses to pick their daughters up from jazz class. I’m enjoying it, as silly as it is. Are you?