Bring It!, Lifetime's best "children who can dance and get yelled at and the moms that love them" show returned last night and won a series recording on my DVR.
Part of me wants to describe the series as an upgraded Dance Moms: there's more girls, better-attended dance competitions that follow a "battle" format, and the level of energy and athletic skill is exponentially higher. But where the show can't compare to Dance Moms is the "catty bullshit" quotient.
While Bring It! is certainly wrought with the emotional suspense of stage moms pinning their dreams on their kids' efforts, and tempers do flare, the moms overall handle themselves more gracefully and maturely across from Dianna Williams (aka Miss D), the formidable coach of the Dancing Dolls.
I grant her +10 reality show points for explicitly referencing "haters", but Selena is actually showing the correct parental instincts in not wanting her own personal conflicts to supersede her child's relationship with her dance coach. That's a far cry from the Dance Mom who left Season One in a fit of rage to head up a whole separate dance studio, the better to directly confront Abby Lee Miller on a continual, existential level. But wow, how much hateful drama was driven by the ensuing rivalry with the "Candy Apple's Dance Centre"!
Abby Lee Miller as a director is way more ridiculous and unlikable than Miss D. How many times did we watch Abby Lee collapse in a corner of her studio in her Delta Burke casual wear to screech at several 8-year-old girls that they needed to smile? The comedy is hard to miss.
Miss D, a genuine athlete, walks among the hundreds of Dancing Dolls hopefuls in the premiere, physically leading them through complex choreography while holding a warehouse of pre-teens (and younger kids) in silent attention with the force of her personality.
All you can think watching her is "Holy shit, that is one exhausting job." Miss D is more respected by her kids, their moms, and ultimately the audience than Abby Lee Miller.
Connoisseurs of reality TV (myself included) have grown a taste for the awkwardness, pain and "bitch mom" stereotypes we've seen in Toddlers & Tiaras, Real Housewives, Dance Moms et al. But hell, maybe pure showmanship will prevail over our (my) worse instincts in this case. These girls, as I've mentioned, can really fucking dance.
Should Bring It! manufacture more drama and villainy or would that ruin the show (and the fun the girls are having)? Is it better for these girl's dreams of ultimate stardom to be dancing circuit stars or reality TV stars? Are we as reality TV viewers looking for shows that reflect both the good and the bad behind competitive youth dance, or are we all watching NASCAR just hoping for crashes?
[ Video, image via Lifetime]