On Wednesday July 12 at 12:05pm PST Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller checked into prison, specifically FCI Victorville facility in California, to start serving her 366 day sentence for bankruptcy fraud.
And with that the multi-month orgy of gossipy shadenfreud surrounding her trial and sentencing reached its breathless climax.
For lunch, it’ll be burgers — with a choice of fries or a baked potato — and fruit. When dinner time rolls around she’ll chow on a deli sandwich or hummus wrap, along with bean soup and potato salad.
And the weekend’s looking up for Abby — sloppy joes for lunch on Saturday and chicken tacos at night!
When word came out that Miller’s dance school is closing its doors (the newly minted felon can’t keep up with the $30,000 a month rent), it was as satisfying as a post-coital vape.
Miller’s flagrant and filmed child abuse certainly makes her a fair target for the publics’ ire, but let’s face it: she wouldn’t have had a show if she weren’t predisposed to assholery. The point of Reality Television is to serve up the shameless and despicable for mockery. It makes us feel better about our own flaws: I may be [drinking too much, fucking off at work, cheating at scrabble], we think, but at least I have too much pride to, you know, do this….
…or say, take a shit on the floor.
Yet the people who judge Reality cast the most are not the reviewers who write (sniffily) about Reality, nor yet the folks who claim they hate-watch the genre, or even the people who avoid it altogether. The people who hate Reality casts the most are the producers who work on their shows, particularly the producers in post-production.
Familiarity breeds contempt, and few are as familiar with these cast members as are the people who spend all day staring at their hijinx on monitors. Field Producers may claim they have specialized knowledge of the cast, after all they’re the ones dealing with them day-to-day. But the omniscient gods of post know them better. Interactions in the field are much like interactions in real life, and in real life you don’t get to watch events unfold on anywhere between two to twelve cameras with microphone audio on all the participants for hours on end and as many times as you like.
No flaw or subtle humiliation that passes unnoticed in the so-called “real world” is missed in post. In fact, they are noted on locators attached to the footage, an example being: “wow, humiliating, MUST USE!” And post producers delight in sharing. A particularly mortifying moment is often replayed over and over for the amusement of the other producers in the room. After all, what could be more entertaining than watching a notoriously deluded douche being introduced to his love object’s new boyfriend, on camera? That is some prime, grade-A shame.
Added to the godlike omniscience of the post producer is the godlike act of creation. Cast members are our meat puppets. They are who we say they are. For example, we could have hours of footage of a cast member (you?) being sweet and kind, and one moment of bitchiness, and guess what we’ll use. Even if the post producers were predisposed to be kind, Reality Television doesn’t allow for subtly (Breaking Bad this ain’t), so if the most exciting footage we have from you is a table flipping moment, chances are you’ll be slotted into the Crazy Bitch archetype for the rest of the show.
I’ve yet to meet a Post Producer who would go on a Reality show themself. We are, we assure ourselves, better than our casts. We may be locked in dark, sometimes mice-infested offices, eating lunch at our desks, working ten hour shifts, and as freelancers, we are doing it without healthcare, vacation pay, statutory holiday pay, or even the assurance of continued employment, but at least we have our pride!
Cast members, on the other hand, are shameless but, generally, so very, very much richer than we could ever be. For instance, who among us posties could afford to pay $30,000 a month for a dance studio in the first place?
E! reports that Lifetime’s cameras were rolling when the weeping Dance Monster, Abby Lee Miller, was checked into jail and I’m sure the post producers are salivating to see the footage. Oh the joy of seeing someone they know to be even more despicable than she appears on TV weeping her way to prison. But the joke’s on them/us. I suspect Abby will be just fine once her 366 days are up. Hell she may even get a spinoff show about life after the clink. Dance Cons, anyone?