i believe in the underdog

6

Spielbergs and Kubricks

Supernatural Song Challenge : Renegades by X Ambassadors

Abby was right about one thing

Mind you, she has played a part in this, but she still had a point when she always said: people will want Maddie to fail.

It’s natural to look at the person who’s on the top (and yes, in the context of the show, Maddie was on top) and want to take away from their accomplishments. As Maddie becomes more and more popular independent of the show, people who dislike her become more enthusiastic with how much they want to see her fail.

And some of them can get really nasty.

I often wonder, if it had worked out the other way, if show writers had decided they wanted to put Chloe in the favourite position (since she had just as many accolades to her name at the time the show began) if people would have been so eager to see Chloe fail (and yes, I also believe that if anyone the “true underdog” has always been Nia because she just ISN’T AS STRONG OF A DANCER, but you can’t have a “rivalry” storyline with two dancers who are leagues apart. It’s more interesting to have two dancers who are neck and neck. That’s why it was always Maddie vs. Chloe).

Like, congratulations, how does it feel to be so manipulated by a TV show?

The first time I watched Dance Moms it was about halfway through the first season. My dance teacher told me it was completely awful, so naturally I had to watch it. I started with episode one, and my immediate thoughts on Maddie were: “Oh, we’re supposed to hate this child.”

For those who think that the show “tries to push Maddie as perfect,” I’ve never found that to be true. In fact, for at least the first couple seasons, I feel like Maddie was marketed as the enemy and we were supposed to rejoice in her failures.

No one likes a winner. Everyone loves an underdog. Chloe was our girl to root for — both were big(ish) winners, but with Chloe occasionally bringing in lower scores, not to mention the relationship between Christi and Abby, it was easier to make Chloe into the underdog (I believe that Abby treated Chloe just fine in the first season, but after that the complete warfare they unleashed on her with the interest of KEEPING her the underdog was inexcusable).

The “underdog we’re all supposed to root for” plot wouldn’t have worked with Nia or Paige. Both were sweet girls, but neither stood a fair chance of pulling off big, satisfying victories at the seasonal arcs. However, when Chloe got first at nationals, the part in the video, the Joffrey scholarship, etc., it felt good and satisfying because she was “fighting against so much,” but it was also easier to guarantee that she’s actually get the win.

Maddie, on the other hand, had no favours done for her. We didn’t get to see a lot of her sweet side like we did with Chloe, but we got to see a lot of her bad side — like the tantrum she threw “right after” Chloe got the scholarship (we all know the truth now, but the damage was done at the time), or her crying after getting hurt during the watermelon game. It’s not tough for Maddie to come off as intense, like when she said straight-faced to the camera: “I would kill myself if I didn’t dance.” Most eight-year-olds don’t understand the severity of a statement like that, but in the heat of the moment even I gave a good “yikes.” I’m of the firm belief that the reason they included the clip of Maddie getting sick and walking right back into rehearsal in episode one and not episode two (when it actually happened) was because they wanted to establish right off the bat, “This kid is super serious and a bit steely.”

There’s a reason they included footage of Maddie, like, accidentally bumping into Chloe’s shoulder while holding a trophy despite the two being the best of friends at the time (which we never got to see). There’s a reason we saw only kind comments on Chloe’s Joffrey auditions and only criticism on Maddie’s, even though every kid probably had a big mix of both. As audiences, we were supposed to find pleasure/vindication in Maddie’s defeats. They were her comeuppances.

Has it dropped off a bit? Yeah, I think so. The kids have started to become more aware of the cameras and the audience is getting wiser, so it’s harder to make Maddie look like a bully of some sort. 

I’m not saying I don’t think Chloe was as sweet as she seems, since she still seems like a really great kid who is growing into an even kinder young lady. But I think it’s unfortunate that the show tried to make the kids into characters instead of letting them be themselves. Leave the characterization and the editing and scripting to the moms. Let the damn kids dance and be friends.