Why you need to stop watching Dance Moms and Toddlers & Tiaras, even though they’re entertaining

Dance Moms has Abby Lee Miller, who’s a made-for-TV character with her awful screaming and horrible behavior, and the dance moms themselves certainly contribute a lot of entertainment with their hypocrisy and stage mom personas. And Toddlers & Tiaras is like a trainwreck and fascinating to watch.

But they also have kids who don’t deserve to be publicly humiliated, even if they’re sometimes little brats. Would you have wanted your childhood’s worst moments broadcast to the world and mocked by people online and elsewhere? In a Daily Beast essay, I make that argument.

I do struggle with this, not just because the shows can be entertaining, but because I find other shows that star kids to be far less egregious, such as CBS’ awesome and underrated Kid Nation (deal with it!).

I’m never one to think that we need to protect kids from what they see on television, such as language or sex, but when they themselves are television, that’s a different story, I think. It seems pretty unethical to produce, broadcast, and watch these shows. Here’s why.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.