By Lori Acken
I knew it! I said! Way back in episode …well, whatever episode it was where the Big New York Casting Agent came!
I said this:
“So now that I’ve accepted this new reality in this new reality show, I feel equally secure in tossing this prediction: Despite the fact that she has done nothing but dance joyfully, express her love for her peers and look splendid in an inappropriate pile of brown eye-shadow — Maddie is about to get her comeuppance at the hands of Chloe. I say this for several reasons. One, because that would make for an excellent, if not predictable, dramatic twist. Two, because if this were real live real life and this studio was such a dead-end of the dance-career line for Chloe, Christi would have made good on her multiple threats to pull the little blond warhorse from the studio by now. And finally, Chloe is clearly lovely and talented — and remarkably well-balanced for a child in her position — so the notion that the entire series will be about her playing second fiddle to Maddie makes zero sense.”
Zero sense, indeed.
Last night on the Season 1 Dance Moms finale, the spotlight shone on the method to the Dance Mom madness: We let Maddie win all season long and then awarded Chloe the ultimate prize — the starring role in a supposed “major music video” by a supposed pop star supposedly — all evidence to my fitful Googling contrary — named Lux. Who is supposedly — all evidence to more fitful Googling contrary — Ted Danson’s daughter.
She looks like Ke$ha Lite to me, more than Sam Malone himself, but whatever. Lux needs a video and the video needs dancing kids.
Hence, we are back in L.A. And there are no Pyramids of Doom in L.A. Well, this time anyway.
That’s because, says Abby, “here in L.A., it’s not about the talent, it’s about the look.” Nice. Couldn’t resist getting one last jab at Chloe-ster, could you, Ab?
In any case, Melissa — who has gotten blonder by the minute — begins celebrating Maddie’s victory before we even get anywhere near auditions, so once again foreshadowing is nicely handled within the first three minutes. And Abby says she’s going to teach the girls to bust some hip-hop moves, which is worth the price of admission for a hundred lifetimes, right there.
Sure enough! The next morning, Abby lines up with the ladies and starts the hip-hop lesson with a move that looks suspiciously like the Electric Slide. It’s electric! No wait. We’ve done electricity already. In any case, Abby says kids on the West Coast do hip-hop five days a week, so kids from the Midwest got their work cut out for them, but they can do it. (It’s electric! Boogie woogie woogie!)
Because the weather is nice again, the moms ditch the kids to go sit in a sun-dappled room and talk about how much they’re willing to sacrifice for what their kids want. Melissa says they would help each other, too — which makes Christi look like she smells something very, very bad. Like the stinky-not-fair plan Melissa has up her sleeve.
Back at hip-hop class, Abby does the classic bend-your-arms-inward-at-the-elbow-and-look-like-you’re-having-a-seizure hip-hop move that I am way too old and way too Midwestern to know the name of — which provides the perfect opportunity for little miss one-liner MacKenzie to announce that Abby is funny-looking when she dances hip-hop. Actually Abby is surprisingly proficient at hip-hop, which alternately weirds me out and makes me happy.
We find out that MSA — short for MacDonald/Selsnick Associates — is casting this video. They rep some of the most prominent dancers in our country, says Abby. Hence, there’s a bazillion other kids at the audition, and little Mac isn’t feeling it one bit. Brooke, on the other hand, is glad for the 16 counts of improv in the group audition — mostly because it allows her to demonstrate that she is the only one old enough to dance like this and not look like a second-grader trying to dance like this. So of course, we do not keep the cameras on her for more than a couple of seconds. And I start missing My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
The owner of MSA pulls the girls into a private meeting to give them a gentle talk about the reality of rejection in Hollywood … after which they all get a part in the gig and, accordingly, scream like banshees. Rejection is for candy apples, sillies.
With two days to go before the video shoot, Seven Williams, the producer of the major music video by the up-and-coming popstar, comes by the studio to meet the crew. And to drop the bomb that only one little lady will be the actual star of the vid. His man, Ray from Victorious, is tasked with whipping them into shape.
At this point, we’ve stopped even pretending that anyone other than Chloe or Maddie is going to get the lead. And Mac really does not want to be a part of this. She flees for a drink of water, tries unsuccessfully to hug her mother and 14 seconds later, she is right back in there.
Which is good, because it’s time to get jacked up for their screen tests with wild hairdos, extensions and gobs of makeup and nail polish. The girls love it.
But Melissa isn’t taking any chances. “If it’s based on dance, we all know that Maddie’s going to get it,” she tells the camera with a smirk. If it’s not based on dance, then she sure as hell is going to find out what it IS based on — and somehow manages to get the major pop star producer Seven to meet her for a chat and a cup of joe. He even turns off his Blackberry. He says he loves Maddie. He thinks she has … talent. “It factor”? Uhhhh … she’s a great kid.
Well, two can play that extracurricular game, sister. With one day to go to the vid shoot, Christi decides to hook Chloe up with Brad Pitt’s acting coach, Howard Fine. Who is also magically available at the drop of a hat. Howard is an excellent amateur psychologist and he draws Chloe out about her rivalry with Maddie and assures her that her success will not hurt anybody else.
Howard has obviously never met Melissa.
One last Mommy-drinkie time, where Missy admits to her meeting with Seven. No one is more appalled than Christi … who barks and howls and says nothing about Chloe’s Fine time. Chuckle.
Back at dance class, we have a little trouble with the boys we’re dancing with — which is probably the best lesson the girls get from this whole experience. MAC WANTS OUT! MAC IS NOT READY! Tough buns, you … you … stressed out 7-year-old, you. Abby is hoarse, but she still doesn’t waste a chance to holler. Mac bucks up, says she just cries sometime and it’s no big deal.
Seven arrives on the scene and gives Melissa a big ol’ hug. Christi calls her Seven’s coffee-mate. Better than his crea … oh, never mind.
Then it’s time to meet Lux (Luxe? Luxx? Someone help me out here!) so she can scout out her little Lux. And guess what?! Lux could not look more like Chloe at 25 if Christi had given birth to her. Brunette Brooke and African-American Nia realize they’re screwed. It’s not about the talent, girls. It’s about the look. Of course, Abby says Maddie has it in the bag. Maddie is no fool — she can see how much Chloe looks like Lux.
Nia — realizing that she has nothing to lose — shows off her killer death drop during her audition and makes Seven think she hurt herself. Nia sets him straight. Death drop. And I did it to death. You go, girl.
Then it’s time for the big choose. Maddie looks around nervously. The cameras linger on Paige long enough to make me realize that she, too, looks a little Lux-y herself. But finally — oh finally — Chloe is the victor.
Not because of her dance skills, says sour grapes Melissa because Maddie is the only girl in the world with dance skills. Maddie says she won’t cry like other girls and she’s happy for everyone — all without the merest hint of smile. She drops her eyes to the floor. I recall her saying what a fine little actress she believes she is earlier in the episode and I give her a hand.
And then it’s time to shoot the big finish — the video. We have what seems like foreshadowing that someone is going to be dealt a head injury from all the video equipment, but thankfully that doesn’t pan out. I’m not real sure about off-camera, though, because here’s Melissa again, telling us how — ironically — she and Abby are thrilled that Maddie didn’t get the lead. Because now all Maddie has to do is dance the whole entire time, as opposed to the acting and dancing that Chloe has to do, so surely some agent will snap her up. I hope so, Melissa. For Maddie’s sake.
Then the shoot is done, Christi is verklempt and it’s time to go home. Where Abby miraculously has a copy of the completed video!! Which is adorable. Adorbs to infinity. And everyone gets their moment in the sun. Uh, smoke machine. Whatever.
And with that triumphant close to the season, Abby tells them they are the next generation of Abby Lee Dance studio. They are her shining stars. And they better get their shining-star butts prepared, because next season is looming and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
“I’m taking the gloves off,” crows Abby Lee. And putting a muzzle on? No? Will you at least dance more, anyway?
Until then, Dance Mom nation — we’ve got one last “Most Outrageous Moments” episode to go before the curtain comes down on Season 1. And it looks to be a doozie.