Things About The First Season Of Dance Moms That Seem Bizarre Now

There are plenty of reality shows out there with unbelievable premises. Are there really people who get married without meeting first? Do people really want to be naked and afraid on national television? Well, yes. But one show, Dance Moms, took the unbelievable to a whole new level with just how intense and dramatic it was. The show featured the dancers and their mothers of the Abby Lee Dance Studio in Pittsburgh, Pa. Yes, the entire show was about all the drama that went on surrounding the dancers, their moms, and most notably, Abby Lee Miller.

Miller eventually went on to serve time in jail for bankruptcy fraud, and the show was put on hold. But that all came way later. In fact, the most entertaining part of Dance Moms was definitely the first season, which introduced fans to the dancers of the ALDC, who everyone immediately felt sorry for once they witnessed the unbridled chaos of how the moms and Miller behaved on-camera. The season was a trainwreck in the best way, but still, looking back, there are quite a few things about that premiere season that were just downright bizarre.

Who is Abby Miller, and why is she making kids cry?

One of the first things that stood out about the first season of Dance Moms was Abby Lee Miller's completely unfiltered approach. Miller wasn't at all concerned with what people thought about her, or about being viewed as politically correct in any capacity. No, Miller was just herself, which is what made the show so entertaining. So much of what made that first season of Dance Moms addicting to watch was not knowing how Miller was going to react to hearing a mother complain, or a dancer miss a step.

As Decider bluntly put it, "Here's this mentally unstable Pittsburgh dance teacher who's convinced herself that she's actually an important human being. So important that she can berate 8-year-olds." Yes, looking back at season one of Dance Moms, it seems pretty bizarre that an adult woman was behaving this way, in what the network generously described as "aggressive yelling" as a form of dance instruction, and got her own show about it. Still, there's no denying the fact that it was excellent TV, and hey, if nothing else, Miller helped form some excellent and talented young dancers.

So, do the Dance Moms kids go to school?

If you watched the first season of Dance Moms, you know that despite their ages, the young girls of the Abby Lee Dance Company are incredibly talented. They deserved every bit of praise they got for their skills. But one of the weirdest things about the first season of Dance Moms was how much time the young girls put into dance rehearsal, when it seemed like they didn't do anything else.

In a Q+A session on Facebook, which would have been midway through Season 2, Christi Lukasiak, mother of fan-favorite Chloe, explained that the girls were just very hard-working. "They are very disciplined to get their homework finished whenever they have a free moment," she wrote. "Chloe does hers BEFORE dance each day. They all attend regular, full-time school." However, as time went on, it became clear that not every dancer had to do early-morning homework sessions, as Maddie Ziegler started  homeschooling in 2013. "Abby always says that the girls would be better dancers if they were homeschooled like Maddie," one of the other moms complained in a scene from Season 4, adding, "And I agree, but in my family, school comes first. I just want my kids to grow up normal, not just having dance be their entire life."

We're actually not sure if it's more bizarre or impressive that the girls could go to school full-time and dance as well and as often as they did in Season 1.

Was a Dance Moms star a victim of blatant racism?

As much as Dance Mom fans like the drama, they also enjoy getting to watch young girls do what they are passionate about: dance. So, when one of those young girls experienced what appeared to be pretty blatant racist profiling by Abby Lee Miller, it was hard to watch. In episode seven of Season 1 of Dance Moms, Holly Frazier, mother to Nia Frazier was outraged at what seemed like Abby stereotyping her daughter.

In fact, the episode description from the Lifetime website literally states: "Abby's continuous typecasting of little Nia in ethnic stereotype roles sends her mother Holly over the edge. For the first time, Holly takes off the gloves and the fighter in her comes out." Holly took issue when Abby had Nia dance to the song, "They Call Me Laquifa" wearing an afro wig and leopard jumpsuit. Clearly, the problematic nature of ... all of that is apparent, but still, the outrage came quickly. 

As the self-described "largest independent African American marriage and parenting site on the web, Black and Married with Kids, described the bizarrely offensive routine, "Abby Lee makes it clear that Nia and likely all Black dancers in her eyes will be stereotyped and typecast based on race; therefore, Nia must know how to drop it like it's hot if she's going to make it in the 'biz.'" 

What ever happened to Lux?

One of the most memorable moments from the first season of Dance Moms came at the season finale when the girls auditioned for the lead role in some kind of big music video. As the episode description on Lifetime put it, the girls "go from amateurs to professionals after being cast to perform in a Hollywood music video." The music video is painted as this huge deal, with all the girls vying to be the lead.

All that is well and good, but the star of the music video, a young girl named Lux, doesn't seem to be that big of a star, even though she is apparently Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen's daughter, Kat Danson, who, at the time, was attempting to disguise herself with a nom-de-plume. Anyway, this episode, which made it seem like this music video was for a huge up-and-comer and would be someone's big break, was kind of misleading. 

So, whatever happened to Lux? Her YouTube channel, which has a not-jaw-dropping 18,600 subscribers, hasn't really been active since 2012. And it appears Lux never actually released a full album — meaning Dance Moms really played up her stardom. Though Chloe Lukasiak eventually got the lead role in the music video, it was Maddie Ziegler who went on to have a career built on music video leads. The whole episode was awkward and looking back, totally strange. 

Those fights can't all be real

As entertaining as Dance Moms is, it's also kind of hard to watch at times. Especially early on in Season 1 of the show, when the drama was too much to handle for a lot of the kids. Even though the kids weren't usually in on the fights, they still have to witness them, which is troubling. In one scene from Season 1, Chloe Lukasiak's mom (above right) got so upset, she screamed at other moms in the dressing room, causing Maddie Ziegler to cry.

However, Ziegler later went on to say that not all of those Dance Moms fights were real. "It's hard to do a reality show when there's so much crying and drama," she said in an interview with USA Today. "The producers set it up to make us all yell at each other. You know how I said that moms do fight? The moms have a fake fight sometimes. Afterward they just start talking and laugh about it." Even though the drama on Dance Moms might be totally binge-able, that doesn't mean it's all that authentic.

Abby Lee Miller's unusual way of building 'chemistry' between dancers

One thing that Season 1 of Dance Moms makes abundantly clear is that Abby Lee Miller is willing to do just about whatever it takes to win. For instance, in episode 8 of the first season, Abby brings in a boy dancer, Brandon, to do a duet with Brooke Hyland, and it's clearly stated that the two have an awkward history (Brooke said they "used to like each other a couple of years ago"). While rehearsing, Abby complains that the two have no chemistry, and then brings their moms down to talk.

"If you two wouldn't mind, I'm gonna send them on a date," Miller decides. In Channel Guide Magazine's review of the episode, they note that Miller, desperate to force these two into some kind of pre-teen romance, shouted the following directions at the moms: "No tables for four!' and "Let them do their own thing." Brooke and Brandon are then accompanied by their moms to a carnival, where Brooke is clearly uncomfortable. "I haven't seen Brandon in a while, and now we're on a date, and it's really weird," she says, adding that "If Brandon thinks anything is gonna happen between us on this date, he's crazy."

The entire episode was pretty cringe-worthy, but not even the awkward dance performance that came out of all of this could be more bizarre than Miller's borderline inappropriate attempt at forcing these two together.

How has no one complained about that pyramid before?

The driving force behind all the drama on Dance Moms was the competitive nature of what the girls do. And no, that doesn't just mean the competitions in which they enter and perform. Those performances aside, each dancer in the Abby Lee Dance Company is literally ranked by Abby Lee Miller herself, via a pretty blunt ranking system (shown above).

As Decider reported of the first season of Dance Moms, "To top off all the drama, Abby unveils a pyramid each week with the best dancers....and the worst." Not only that but, "the moms are expected to be in the studio for this unveiling." It's no wonder there's so much drama between the mothers and Miller. The choreographer is literally pitting little girls against each other in her own studio. "She puts these kids in a pyramid, it's a nightmare," mom Christi Lukasiak said in the series premiere. "It is a nightmare for a child and an adult, because we have to stand by and take it," Lukasiak continued, clearly frustrated. The mothers were obviously annoyed that Maddie Ziegler was at the top of the pyramid, and the division between the moms became blatant. Seriously, that pyramid was troubling.

That was way too much pressure on Chloe

The young dancers on Dance Moms are talented, but the amount of pressure they get put under is immense, and in some cases, too much. In fact, Chloe Lukasiak eventually left Dance Moms because of the amount of pressure that had been mounting since Season 1 of the show.

Not only did Chloe put in hard work, but she also had to deal with being compared to fellow dancer, Maddie Ziegler. "She's been going from 6:30 in the morning, until 9:30 at night," Chloe's mom Christi Lukasiak says in one scene. In another episode, Chloe got the lead in a dance, but was obviously feeling the tension when she told her mom, "Miss Abby was saying to me like, 'Oh since Maddie's not in this, you have to win, you have to win...'"

After Chloe left Dance Moms, she explained in a video posted to her YouTube channel that even though she was "grateful for that experience ... it was a really hard time for [her]. Probably the hardest thing [she'd] ever been through." Fortunately, Chloe is free from the stress of Dance Moms, but looking back on Season 1, it's evident that she had to put up with a lot.

Maddie was so clearly Abby's favorite

One of the most defining characteristics of the first season of Dance Moms was the competition between Maddie Ziegler and Chloe Lukasiak. Abby Lee Miller constantly pitted the two little girls against each other, and it didn't seem very fair, particularly because the show seemed determined to make it clear that Ziegler was the favorite of Miller. The favoritism ran so deep for so many reasons, including the fact that Miller went to school with Ziegler's dad, and they were basically family friends. But even though Miller would sometimes deny favoriting Ziegler, it was impossible to ignore that fact.

As Decider reported, "the Maddie versus Chloe drama got out of control. To the point that you were actually rooting for Maddie to fail because the show painted Chloe as such an unfortunate underdog." Ziegler was constantly on top of the pyramid, got the best solos and outfits, and was constantly praised by Miller. Like Decider stated, the blatant preferential treatment Miller gave Ziegler became hard to watch in Season 1, and seems pretty bizarre to look back on.

Was the ALDC and Candy Apples rivalry even real?

Perhaps the most interesting of the plot points from the first season of Dance Moms was the competition between the Abby Lee Dance Company and the Candy Apples Dance Center. There was a rivalry between the two dance studios, and tensions certainly seemed high when Miller came face-to-face with Cathy Nesbitt-Steinn, the leader of the Candy Apples. If all that sounds too strange to be true, it just might be. Of course, Lifetime, ramping up the drama, describe episodes like, "Cathy is secretly readying her Candy Apple dancers to go against Abby's dancers," that doesn't mean the rivalry is that intense.

In fact, as writer Rebecka Schumann reported for International Business Times, behind the scenes of filming, the two "rival" studios don't seem that angry towards each other. "The rival groups remain cordial, saving their infamous bickering until after the cameras started rolling," Schumann wrote, after observing this dynamic with her own eyes when she attended a day of taping for a Season 3 episode in 2014. "While it's hard to tell if the tensions among the parents is generally genuine or forced, it is clear that their buzz-worthy one-liners may not always be there [sic] own," Schumann also reported, implying that producers also coach much of the dialogue.

So, it's safe to say that infamous matchup between Miller's dancers and the Candy Apples might have been a little over-dramatized in Season 1.

Some of those moves and outfits seem inappropriate

For dancers, wearing a costume needs to be practical, comfortable, but also make sense for the dance they are performing. On the first season of Dance Moms, that's typically the case, with the girls wearing a lot of tutus for performances. However, there were a few dances and performances that seemed pretty inappropriate for young girls. For example, Maddie Ziegler was 8 years old when Dance Moms premiered, yet she was wearing crop tops, booty shorts, and thigh-high stockings for one performance.

As the episode description for Season 1, Episode 2 states, "The Dance Moms allow their daughters to wear outfits in a competition that are revealing and the scandal threatens to bring down the house." The dance in question is called "Electricity," and it features plenty of booty-shaking, suggestive facial expressions and lyrics, and even a moment where the girls drop it like it's hot. During the episode, dance mom Holly Frazier, who is a private school director, explains it's a dance she doesn't want "anyone from [her] school seeing [her] daughter performing, at all. Ever." It's understandable Frazier would feel that way, as the dance and the outfits could be deemed inappropriate for young girls, but that's all of what made Season 1 of Dance Moms so addicting.