Lifetime finally draws a line, but only after airing Dance Moms’ “Topless Showgirls” episode

Dance Moms, one of the cable reality shows that is basically a form of televised child abuse, aired an episode two weeks ago titled “Topless Showgirls” (later renamed “Costume Drama”) but only now has it occurred to Lifetime that it maybe shouldn’t have broadcast that. So, the network has pulled the show from repeats and all available sources–but of course, it survives online.

On the episode, obnoxious Abby Lee Miller tells her students, “The audience should think that you are nude,” prompting the mothers to freak out, at least with their facial expressions. The teacher explains in an interview that the costumes “give the illusion that you’re nude” and that’s okay because “we all know that you have tan bras on,” and then goes on to teach the kids a routine that includes holding features in front of their “crotch, boobs.”

A Lifetime spokesperson told Gawker that “after airing the episode, the network decided never to air it again in reruns and never to make it available on iTunes, Amazon, or MyLifetime.com.” Gawker has an excerpt from the episode that features the young girls performing the burlesque routine while Abby Lee Miller stuffs her face.

Of course, the dance moms complained but did nothing about it, because that might risk their TV face time, and the fact that it didn’t occur to Lifetime to pull the episode until now pretty much proves that no one actually cared about the consequence of this behavior until well after the criticism, and this is an empty gesture. Stop watching this show.

Update: The first version of this post embedded a clip from the episode, and Lifetime/A&E Networks has claimed copyright infringement to get the clip removed from YouTube. This is a pretty blatant misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which CBS previously used against me, because fair use is allowed under the law, and a newsworthy clip from a controversial episode would clearly be fair use.

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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.