So far on Season 2 of Dance Moms, we’ve been treated to a buffet of Abby Lee Miller moments. She’s yelled! She’s screamed! She’s even gotten girls on other teams disqualified! Yes, Abby Lee may be the star of her own studio, but this week, we were reminded why the moms are the stars of this show.
After last week’s pretty fantastic performance, the girls on the bottom rung of the pyramid couldn’t really be chastised very much. Paige was there because “she just does not apply corrections.” Next was Nia, who Abby said had been working very hard. And of course, Kendall is still on probation, and on the bottom. Don’t worry, Jill (Kendall’s mom and the newbie to the group) will have something to say about that.
In the middle were the adorable sisters, 7-year-old Mackenzie and her big sister (and superstar of the group, with Brooke gone to pursue cheerleading) Maddie. Mom Melissa beamed with pride.
At the top was the wonderful Chloe, who won 1st place for her solo last week. Abby told her, “You made your mother cry. Don’t make me cry. Make me smile.” And so, another complex emotional order was given to a 10-year-old girl. Let’s get started!
THE NEW GIRL
In case they hadn’t already noticed, there was still one more spot (the absolute lowest rung) on the pyramid. Everyone assumed it was for Brooke, but Abby Lee pulls a fast one and brings in 14-year-old Peyton, who had previously lost her spot to Kendall in the open auditions. The girls seem to love and know Peyton already, but unfortunately for the moms, they seem to hate and know Peyton’s mom Leslie already too.
Leslie is a loud and demanding pistol of a woman. Abby tells us that Jill better bring a baseball bat if she wants to go head-to-head with Leslie. And we quickly learn why.
THIS WEEK’S COMPETITION
Abby Lee tells everyone that this week the girls will be performing for Hollywood Vibe in a competition. She decides to really go for it and split the girls into three different acts: Chloe and Maddy will do solo performances, Chloe, Maddy and Kendall will perform in a trio, and then the entire group will perform a group dance.
This week’s group theme? Bullying! Insert obligatory comments by the moms about how Abby is the biggest bully of them all and how hypocritical it is and blah blah they’re briefly annoyed.
In an effort to let Nia prove herself as a dancer, Abby gives her the featured role of the bully. And this is where the moms start going wild, and continue to do so for the next 45 minutes.
First, Paige and Brooke’s mom Kelly gets teary-eyed and angry because Paige is excluded from any dances. “I know she’s doing it because she wants to hurt me,” says Kelly. Even little Paige agrees: “Miss Abby’s mad at Brooke and my mom so she’s taking it out on me.” Well…maybe, but did you really expect anything in the way of a reward? Kelly sums up her outrage: “This is horesesh*t.” Eloquent!
Then Nia’s mom Holly feels her rage bubbling up even though Nia tells us, “I’m so happy because Miss Abby picked me to be the star!” No, Holly cares more about being defiant in the name of her “identity,” which we later learn involves her disapproval of casting the only black girl on the team in the “aggressive” bully role. “We’ve had conversations about stereotypes before,” she tells no one in particular.
Holly’s plan backfires because as soon as she storms into rehearsals and demands that Nia be removed from her starring role, Nia is visibly upset. Holly gets something off her chest about a zero-tolerance policy and Abby doesn’t want to hear it (neither did we), and tells the new girl Peyton that she can play the bully.
This, of course, enrages Jill, who starts whining about how Peyton is trying to replace her daughter, even though Peyton already lost out on a spot to Kendall. Then the insults start.
“I just hope that Peyton doesn’t look too big. Peyton’s too big, she sticks out like a sore thumb.” Well Leslie doesn’t think so (surprise!). “I think Peyton is the better dancer,” she says, over and over again, louder and louder each time. Jill wimps out with a final “She’s a big bully, not just a bully.”
Which, okay. Even if we see the reason for giving Peyton a chance in Brooke’s absence, Jill has a point. Peyton isn’t just the oldest in the group, but she’s taller than all the girls by a head.
MOMS GONE WILD
Leslie invites the moms out for a totally friendly coffee date. And by totally friendly, we mean another opportunity to shout and yell and be way louder than any of you, which she thinks is the same thing as being right.
Her first victim is Christi. “Christi, why are you here? You complain a lot!” Christi rightfully explains that the dance team is between her and Chloe, but Leslie screams, “No! Go find another studio! Shut up!” And Christi is like, um, you need to take a seat, loosen your mom jeans, and stop foaming at the mouth.
That was such a fun lunch date!
Abby Lee rolls out her costumes for the bullying number, which includes ripped fishnets and Britney Spears-esque navel-baring Catholic schoolgirl uniforms. Christi wins the best line of the night by saying, “It’s like Prostitots: The Sequel.” We worship Christi for the rest of the episode.
Leslie attempts to articulate the fine line between a “sleaze in a strip joint” and “trashy.” She never quite makes anything resembling a point.
Before the performances even begin, we see some downright diabolical behavior from the two rival moms, Jill and Leslie. First, Jill says to Kendall, who is just trying to fix her bun for chrissakes, “I need to know that you know it inside and out. If you do good in this trio, this twenty bucks is yours.” She lays out a crumpled wad of $5 and $10 bills that look like they may have actually come from a strip joint.
Maddie brilliantly interjects by telling us how “weird” that was. “The moms don’t do that here. If they do, they do with ice cream.” Dear Melissa: your kids are the best.
Leslie opts for the strict and sour approach in parenting: “I know you’re trying, just try harder.” Peyton looks freaked.
We get a glimpse at the competition and they really suck, to be blunt. They’re slightly cute, but completely uncoordinated, clumsy, clothed in glitter napkins, and making strained “emotive” “acting” faces. What inevitably happens every week occurs: we can’t help realizing how talented Abby really is at her job. Her girls look ten times better than any other team.
Which makes it pretty shocking when Maddie’s solo performance is the only Abby Lee dance that earns a prize (1st!). Chloe’s solo, the trio, and the group dance don’t even place.
THE FIGHT OF THE NIGHT
And then, in the green room, Abby innocently (or not?) asks Peyton how she thinks she did. And this girl, daughter of Loud Leslie, does her mom proud. She says, “I thought I was better than most of the girls in this group.”
Abby almost looks pleased before quietly and patiently telling her and her louder-than-ever, interruptive mother, what she thinks of Peyton’s “smart mouth.”
Abby told her, “That’s cocky,” before telling us, “I was appalled. I cannot believe that a 14-year-old would open her mouth and act like that.” Leslie very obviously knew that her daughter was in the wrong, but still insisted on LOUDLY accusing Abby of “coercing” Peyton. Just…wow.
In the end, Peyton is still on probation, but no word on whether Kendall has been promoted to official competition team level (though, spoiler alert! The preview for next episode seems to reveal that Kendall is off probation and Peyton has been asked to leave).
Abby ended her conversation with the loud lady (and petrified daughter) with an incredibly mature point: “We have a really nice camaraderie among the girls here. It was wrong. It would take years to regain their trust. These are her friends, this is her team, she shouldn’t belittle them. That’s my job.”
And it’s our job to continue watching – a job we perform with joy.
Watch the next Dance Moms on Tuesday, February 7 at 9pm on Lifetime.