I Like Anne Hathaway

Let's leave the nips out of it, shall we?

Rihanna’s Rider

Earlier this week, Rihanna’s PA and best friend (in the sense that applies only to a very particular land of celebrity, where you confuse people you pay with your best friends in the same way as those with low self worth can confuse sex with love, as—much like with normal best friends—they’ll be there when you’re having a cataclysmic, vodka fuelled melt down. And they will tolerate such behaviour because, duh, they’re paid to do so) Melissa Forde, has recently given an insight into life with Rihanna, revealing a list of just some of the duties (demands) required of her. And if that’s not the most fabulous sentence I’ve typed in a long time, I don’t know what is. Because ever since the mid 90’s when it was revealed that J-Lo had dedicated eyebrow shapers for each eyebrow and Mariah Carey demanded white doves carried away her shit the second it left her pampered bottom, so she may never have to be aware of such common people bodily functions, we as a people have been weirdly obsessed with the lives and bizarre demands of celebrities. FYI do not let organic honey anywhere NEAR Adele. 

This interest of mine has been briefly indulged in the past through work, when the magazine I worked for would put events on and in turn, bands would make their own needs known. Invariably though, it would just be beer. And let me tell you: a crate of Red Stripe is no stand in for having dedicated butt sprinklers on hand to ensure your bottom has just the right amount of sand on it, as was the reported case with Kim Kardashian at a recent photo-shoot. No stand in at all!

And let’s be honest here, while J-Lo and Mariah might be the pinnacle of 90’s diva excess, on the list of the riders you would tip off a disgruntled employee to see, Rihanna’s is right up there. Because Rihanna is the kind of almost accessible celeb that is somewhere between being the ultra cool girl at school you could almost feasibly be friends with and a high-octane fuelled diva you just know is going to have some juicy demands. She’s like the younger, American, pop version of Kate Moss. You can equally imagine hanging out your arse with her after a night out, squashing gravy covered chips into your face and taking turns hogging the toilet as you can being forced to hairspray her bikini bottoms into place so there’s no ride up in the selfies you’ll be providing the lighting for. 

The actual demands, (as released by a close friend of Forde’s, which included rolling her spliffs, folding her toilet roll before RiRi enters the bathroom, clearing up her hotel room after any “sex sessions” and taking photos for her Instagram) fell disappointingly flat. I don’t know about you, but bar rolling spliffs— on the grounds of I don’t smoke and honestly wouldn’t have the faintest clue what to do, so supremely uncool as I have always been—and the bog roll thing, these are fairly regular demands required of me on any given night out by any one of my friends. With one in particular I have in the past, assumed the role of her official photographer for the night and cleaned my bathroom sink after she had sex on it. 

Now that I know it’s acceptable to demand payment in return, I shall promptly be doing so.

For my part, the only time I have been guilty of anything remotely approaching the same grave excess is when my mum cleaned my room once when I was a teenager and stumbled upon a collection of old condoms my boyfriend had been too lax to actually deposit in the bin.

Rihanna’s own diva behaviour is said to be putting a strain on the relationship with Forde. Melissa, that’s what besties are for.

Kanye Cocks Up

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Written for Spindle Magazine

Put your hands up for Kanye West! Possibly because they’re the only things you can put up… amiright, Kanye?

The pillar of inexplicable arrogance, self-delusion and questionable fashion in its human form that Kanye West is has been brought to this correspondent’s attention more than once in recent months, usually when he was making some grand sweeping comparison that would place him in his eyes in a similar light to the civil rights campaigners of the 1960s, say, or Jesus (ineffably moronic in everyone else’s). 

This time though, the controversy can be summed up by the simple acronym, WWJD: What Would Jesus Do, which appears to be the last thing that went through Kanye’s mind before he tried to force two disabled men in the audience to stand up through the sheer force of Kanye’s will alone, telling the crowd, “I decided I can’t do this song, I can’t do the rest of the show until everybody stands up.” An event that, had it gone to plan, would no doubt have confirmed him to be the Second (or is it third?) Coming he so often proclaims himself to be. 

But not even the behest of Kanye belligerently stopping a concert until they did so (whining, “This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song, it’s unbelievable”), nor the ensuing booing from the gathered fans could make this modern day miracle a reality. 

Needless to say, Kanye has since come under fire for this unfortunate series of events. But I for one am going to stand up for Kanye here, in his defence. What we have here is really an obvious case of misunderstanding as Kanye is, as he himself has declared louder and with greater conviction than any professional critic who has ever listened to his work ever has, the greatest artist the music industry has seen this side of Jesus himself (his talent at whistling something The Bible skimmed over entirely). By asking members of the audience to stand up, Kanye was merely looking for the respect and adulation that little voice in his head so richly demands. And honestly, being made to wait to receive that recognition from ticket carrying fans, with deeper pockets and a greater capacity to tolerate egotistical blowhards for 90 minutes—and to pay for the pleasure at that—than I, is nothing short of ‘unbelievable’.

As many fans have since made clear, rushing to defend Kanye’s good name, he even made allowances for those incapable of properly demonstrating the right levels of adoration, tacking on to his original request the caveat, “Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking.” And to be fair to Kanye, the second several fans and a bouncer had confirmed to him that this was in fact the case with the fans in question, he graciously excused them and made it clear they need not stand after all (“If he’s in a wheelchair, then it’s fine.”).

Equally needless to say is the fact that Kanye has since refused to apologise, citing the fact that he is a married, Christian man with a family (the four pillars on which unquestionable American morality stands). And as everyone but Poor Jen Anniston knows—for she is an unmarriable spinster doomed to spend her days unmarried as she can’t find herself a husband for love nor money—a marriage certificate doubles as a pass into the gated community of infallibility and upstanding moral rectitude, where the only times you can ever be at fault is if you’ve forgotten an anniversary or left your husband without enough pairs of clean socks for the week. This is as ever the fault of the media! Which is where the real fun of this entire issue is now going on, with the raging debate of whether one should ever have to prove that one is disabled? Yeezus, indeed. 

Beyoncé’s Baby Bombshell

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Written for Spindle Magazine

What a choice thing timing is. Or at least, it is when you have a team of publicists, PRs and advisors pointing out that weathering a leaked video of your sister wailing on our husband in a lift at the Met Gala and rumours of a marriage breakdown all within the space of a year is exactly the kind of bad press that could render cracks in a veneer usually more polished and impenetrable than Tom Cruise’s own set.

Yes, you’ve proved you suffer from the exact same problems as the common folk and that you’re more than just an ice queen diva programmed to spout the good word Beyoncé whether your former band mates are tearily voicing their abandonment issues, or your weave is gradually being decimated by the fan it’s currently caught in. (Situations expertly dealt by cutting your hair short for 10 minutes and inspiring a whole new global beauty trend. Not to mention proving to both Kelly Rowland and the greater public in one fell swoop that you may be forgiven for being distracted by some of the pressing issues in your own life and marriage and simultaneously upstaging her by doing so on stage in a veil). But now we’re all back on Team Bey, it’s time to seal the deal in the manner of Melrose Place by locking us in with a pregnancy, announcing the arrival of baby number two.

Jay Z seems to be fully on board with the plan, hinting that this is the very case with a not-so-cryptic lyric change (and how else are we meant to translate “’Cause she’s pregnant with another one”, hmm Jay?).

Granted, an allegedly altered lyric—until we have audio verification, we have no solid evidence— is little to go on at this stage and by that logic, what kind of expectant parent would announce their happy news in such a manner anyway? Or for that matter, get pregnant in the first place in what is, in effect, a glossier version of a PR stunt? But to all those naysayers out there, may I remind you that this is the Zs we’re talking about. The very same couple who have masterfully manipulated their happy occasions to their own benefit in the past, announcing the news of their first pregnancy at the VMAs and more recently, rolling out Blue Ivy at those very same awards so that they may pose a united family front and quash all rumours of disharmony in their famously united clan. At any rate, if anyone knows the power of a pregnancy to put all other unwelcome headlines out of circulation, it’s the Zs.

Only time will tell if Bey will once again be employing a parade of prosthetic bellies but needless to say, after last time’s unfortunate deflation issues, belly watch begins now.  

Liz Hurley and the Bikini Backlash

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Kudos to America for getting their priorities straight, refusing entry to well known drug user and slutty spaghetti maker, Nigella Lawson. Surely, this can only be the first step in their good work that will then in turn lead them to shutting its doors to other named and shamed abusers—like Russell Brand, as many have already helpfully suggested as another prime contender for such strictures—before eventually turning its all-seeing eye of patriotism inward and ousting those that have flouted such basic laws within their own communities. Chris Brown and Rihanna immediately spring to mind as first to board the boats out of there, along with Ke$ha, Lindsey Lohan and Snoop Doggy-Lion. There’s already a warmed throne awaiting the latter here, surely, in light of his on-going work in the insurance advertising market.

If only we here in the UK could get our acts together so efficiently and make the changes that need to be seen on our own turf in order to pull ourselves once and for all out of this slump. Oust David Cameron and Nick Clegg and get Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin in instead. Decoupling, sure, but an example for all (not least the current government) of how a coalition can successfully run. Practised as they are in letting us all know how we’re failing at life from the measured pages of Goop, an official title and doing so from Downing Street is the natural progression of this. Of course, this will incur an emergency rush of kale into our shops and coconut water extended from every vending machine, so it’s only natural a new Minister of Food and Diet and Stuff will be appointed in order to uphold these duties, whilst Paltrow and Martin get on with holding forth over our divorce courts. The only obvious contender for the role is, of course, the Rt Hon Liz Hurley. She alone is equipped to deal with Britain’s obesity epidemic.

Her credentials have long been established. After all, it was Hurley who single-handedly showed us all Marilyn Monroe was not, as we were all foolishly thinking, a manifestation of beauty and sex appeal, with the kind of proportions that would reduce Elton John to a crotch-grabbing lad. Instead, after visiting exhibitions where Monroe’s clothes were on display, she pointed out that “she was very big” and indeed that “I’d kill myself if I were that fat.” Words which will help whip our nation into shape.

Her latest good work comes in the form of a tweet targeting those families planning their Easter holidays with a handy reminder of her line of bikinis. For kids. In the past, these child bikinis have been decried as inappropriate, but these people are probably fat and failing to see the bigger issue at stake here, which is ‘catch them when they’re young.’ Already, children as young as four are worrying about their fat (‘good work’, one can imagine Liz intoning as she patted their too-big-for-their-bodies heads), but we can do better! If more of us had this kind of body awareness from such a young age, the problem of over-eating would be conquered by Christmas. McDonalds and Burger King would be defunct within a year, their now empty lots replaced with Topshop’s for the slim and Hurley’s own outlets—further reinforcing the message and making sure this circle of thin is kept on the straight and narrow (hipped).

Hurley’s tweet targeting the Easter holidayers is a canny judgement on her part that further demonstrates her understanding of this problem and how best to deal with it: Easter in a bikini? They won’t be eating much chocolate then! And risk cellulite? The Easter bunny can hop off.

Come on UK. May we follow America’s example and do the right thing. With the next general election only a year away, now is the time for us to shift our priorities and follow the way of the good and the brave into a new and better land.  

Blue Jasmine

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It must be exciting being Lee Ryan. After all, he gets to wear lots of snazzy cardigans and, judging by his Twitter feed (my go-to place for mercilessly delving into his inner psyche. All in the line of duty), constantly stumbles on mind-blowing affirmations about life and stuff, like how spring is a “good symbolisation of rebirth and change x” or how he apparently looks better in real life than in photos, as people keep telling him—not that this curbs his Instagrammed selfie habit a jot. He’s kind of like a small child discovering the world for the first time.

Of course, all the snazzy cardigans in the world can’t compare with the excitement of living through his rollercoaster of a love life. Surprisingly enough for a man who thought he was making a joke when he tweeted he couldn’t fit into his mum’s jeans, and a dad one at that, Lee appears to have quite an active love life—a virulent one, even. Enough of one, in fact, to get branded a love rat during his recent stint on Celebrity Big Brother. Now, I didn’t watch this admittedly, a decision I have come to regret ever since, but the basic premise of Lee’s philandering seems simple enough: he slept in the same bed with one housemate (which is the basic equivalent of an engagement ring in the real world) before copping off with another one, Jasmine Waltz. I have no idea what she does, but I do know she spells please with a ‘z’, which in Channel 5 terms, is credentials enough to appear on CBB.

Romantics could hope that this is where the fairy tale ends, maybe with a Hello! wedding shoot along the way, in a final bid to claim relevance, before fading into the obscurity of people-who-once-appeared-on-CBB-past. But alas! This is where the dreams of all little girls must be shattered, as this joyous union has come to an end. Lee has been caught allegedly cheating on his alleged girlfriend with (and here we must all prepare ourselves for the shock revelation) an alleged MAN, allegedly. 

Oh yes, the shocking news was broken over (you guessed it) Twitter as an angry Ms Waltz tweeted and deleted her hurt and shame. Luckily, the tweet was faithfully recorded before it disappeared off her timeline, which meant we all get to enjoy the full wrath of a Waltz scorned and the ensuing hashtags: #admitUgay, #bereal, #manup, all of which he arguably has done as he has already admitted to a bisexual past (or as Lee put it, doing “experimental shit”).

Lee’s reps are all denying the claims, of course, and Lee is remaining shtum on the whole palaver, on Twitter at least, save for tweeting pictures of elephants with the caption ‘elephants can die of a broken heart’, which is either a well-crafted example of deep and supreme irony or a cute picture of elephants Lee quite liked. My money’s on the latter. 

Getting Real: Lindsay Lohan’s Last Chance

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When Lindsay Lohan gravely asks what’s left in a drink for her—“there’s no party I haven’t been to”—the rejoinder that immediately springs to mind is, ‘except your own funeral’. Enter her new reality TV show! Which, you have to speculate, might just be it.

This is Lindsay’s last chance. We know this because she solemnly says so at the end of the trailer. And it’s a reality TV show. The only step down from here is an appearance on ‘I’m A Celebrity’, or her mother’s reality TV show. Except you kind of get the sneaking impression that this might actually be worse than those. Perhaps we should set the record straight here and now with the official line: not reality show, but docu-series. Do you get the distinction? Nope, me neither.

This brave new step in televisual history comes after two DUIs, seven car accidents, two weeks in prison and six goes in rehab (or what Hello! Magazine would call August) and chronicles Lohan’s life post mug shots, as she tries to rehabilitate her rapidly failing film career and stay sober. That’s right: Lindsay’s sober now. Or so we think. The show has a sobriety coach on it who, when asked in Lindsay is in fact sober, sighs a lot and makes long, poignant silences, which act as vacuums of both sound and emotion.

But come on, guys, this can’t be that bad! Because this is run by Oprah! (Sidebar, did you know Oprah’s 60? My god, the woman has the forehead of an A4 piece of paper.) Oprah is being Oprah and trying to help Lindsay. By putting her under the scrutiny of a TV crew at all times, in a move described by experts as exactly what could cause a relapse. Apparently, the irony of Lindsay saying she feels like a prisoner in her own life “all the time”, locking herself out of her apartment to hold up filming and tearily shouting at some (presumably producer) man that being followed at all times isn’t what she signed up for—yes scrap everything from yesterday!—has been entirely lost on everyone. This is helpful to her. It’s her last chance. It’s exactly what she needs right now. Oprah, guys. Oprah. Oh yeah, and it’s also supposed to be a turning point for Oprah’s network OWN, which has been billed as an unmitigated failure. But mainly, it’s about helping Lindsay.

How well this new start is going though, we can only guess at. We’ve only seen the trailer and she’s already made Oprah mad. OPRAH, guys. You know things are bad when Oprah’s despairing of you. Especially when you’re Lohan: Oprah’s basically her spirit animal. Oprah’s stony-faced and says ‘bullshit’. I mean, if that’s not serious, drama is entirely lost on me. Some of course might choose to question Oprah’s motives here, but as we all know, this is entirely about Lindsay and not at all about rejuvenating Oprah’s failing network.

This might be just the trick to get it back on message though! We’ve already seen Lindsay having a teary face-off with the man the rest of the world knows as an advert for a vasectomy, but whom Lindsay calls Michael Lohan, in what looks both like a heart-breakingly candid (dare I say, ‘real’?) moment for Lindsay and the kind of bear-baiting by the crew and her father that was last seen on Jeremy Kyle. Luckily, her never-failing pillar of strength and morality mother, Dina, is here to give Lindsay awkward hugs and tell the camera how thrilled she is her daughter is back in New York, where she’s close to family. Which has nothing at all to do with the added exposure this also means for Dina.  

OPRAH, guys! And as long as we keep saying that, we will fully accept that this is good for Lindsay, no matter how exploitative and crass it might look. 

Pop Goes Culture

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Forget the Barbican, abandon the Southbank Centre and, my God, if the Tate even bothers to showcase an exhibition this year, well we can only hope they don’t advertise it: that would just be embarrassing for everyone. We’re in 2014 now and aesthetes have long since fobbed off such cultural hubs in favour of sunnier and altogether shinier climes.

What is this new hallowed land I’m referring to, you ask? Why, the pop video, of course: the new yardstick by which all future artist endeavours must be measured.

2013 was a doozy for the pop video. In one year alone we were exposed to everything from a discourse on feminism, to lessons in anatomy displayed in balloon form (I’m bagging Lily Allen’s version come my 30th and anyone questioning this can twerk off), to debates over whether Beetlejuice trousers should ever be worn by middle aged men with big, ahem, thighs. And of course, no amount of hypnotherapy will erase the image of Miley Cyrus’ foam finger. Oh Miley, you little rascal.

Ah yes, what was once described as—and I’m sorry to give even a mite of the word count over to the opinions of the clearly hopelessly gauche here, but needs must—the superficial and trite, was well established as THE arena for wise and important thoughts, a think tank where all important issues of the day would be properly dissected, via the medium of dance. 

Of course, the big question now is where can it go from here? Well, taking into consideration every hashtag trend, making a concentrated study of Pharell Williams’ 24 hours of Happy (fine: 2.54 minutes of it) and diligently following Perez Hilton’s blog, I have carefully forecast what the year ahead of us may hold from the purveyors of pop. Here are my predictions for what we can expect from the genre in 2014.

More open letter writing. This was a big theme of 2013 and so the natural progression is that this will now take place to music. It conveys the emotion behind telling Sinead O’Connor to stick it so much better than a snide 140 characters on Twitter ever could.

More ‘home video’ style efforts that will establish indie and alternative bands as indie and alternative through carefully constructed ‘LOL’ moments and cut aways. And haircuts. Cannot overstate how important the haircuts are.

The next Kardashian baby birth will be broadcast over a video for ballad rap, with Kanye dancing with the placenta, delicately draping it around himself to convey the tender emotion, waving it in the air for the power riffs, before final culmination of Lion King moment with new born child. Possibly over dramatic scenic landscape and perhaps slow motion footage of horses galloping through water. But now I’m just lifting ideas completely from Bound 2. Dry ice, you say? Yes.

But of course, with the BBFC introducing new age-rating restrictions, these will now all be covered in the digital equivalent of a modesty bag. Sorry, Rihanna.

Viva la pop!

Urban Outfitter’s Depressing New Look

And we have a winner! Call it people: 8 January, 2014 and the fashion world has already passed on the Golden Crown of the Asshat onto the head of this year’s winner: Urban Outfitters.

Now far be it from me to break with this blog’s long-established formula of sleb snark to opine on a fashion story, but I believe that Urban Outfitters, in their illustrious career, have caused enough Twitter controversy to qualify for a mention on these pages. And, as someone who was once paid exclusively to comment (bitch extensively) on the passing whims of Lady Fashion for a living— and still, to this day continues to do so occasionally on a freelance basis— I feel it behoves me to pass comment. And so, it has been decreed that Urban Outfitters will make their first appearance here, where once only the likes of Chris Brown and Alex Reid’s sex dungeons were mentioned.

Competition for this year’s winner was fierce (fashion slang, for you) in a season that has already seen the previously outlawed fur— banned on the grounds of ethics, animal rights, basic humanity and all those other trifling issues Lady Fashion rarely bothers herself with, unless PETA’s being particularly bothersome—slinking back onto the catwalks; its transition eased by vague murmurings of, ‘this was ethically farmed…’. Indeed, many spectators were holding out for rehabilitated and reformed raging racist, John Galliano to come out with another rant of utter fuckwittery (with some arguing he still holds the title irrespective of the judges’ decisions). However, it appears even he has been piped to the post this year, as, within a week, Urban Outfitters found themselves coming under fire for a crop top emblazoned with the word depression all over it. A t-shirt which some argued could be taken to be making light of what is in fact a serious mental illness and thus wildly offensive to anyone who suffers from it.

Of course, readers au fait with UO’s past catalogue of bad taste, will not be surprised at this latest turn of events. After all, this is a company who once defined a dark t-shirt colour as ‘Obama’, ripped of a woman’s jewellery designs and pulled their pro gay marriage slogan t-shirts after “too much bad press”. And that’s not even touching on a t-shirt named in a lawsuit as being of particular interest to paedophiles. But it is this precise issue that has brought them to our attention today and, as they were swift to point out in their acceptance speech (which came in the form of a mumbled apology over Twitter) they couldn’t have achieved this honour alone, modestly pointing out, with finger-pointing alacrity, that the offending tee was in fact the work of a company named Depression. Thus, this was simply a case of unfortunate branding.

But don’t worry, dear readers! Someone’s still being a complete troll here. Which leads me nicely to Depression’s own page, where they explain the LOLs we were all missing behind the entire thing. See, their clothes are all about “breaking from boredom”, with collections “a black comedy based on medical themes.” LOL! 

From their website— and here, I fear I come dangerously close to aneurysm—you may browse at will their other fashion collections, named, with all the wit and whimsy of a full colonic, such things as ‘Dysmorphia’ and ‘Birth Defect’. Still seeing the funny side?

But let’s not let all this side-splitting fun take away from the true winners of the day. Well done, Urban Outfitters, you’ve once again hit a moral low.

McBusted

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Also posted on Spindle Magazine

In an occasion marked solely by the sudden pant wetting of now 20-something women in Britain, noughties boy bands Busted and McFly have reunited as supergroup: McBusted (a name they narrowly avoided sharing with a McDonald’s breakfast burger). 

The news left non-hardcore fans (a group the boys like to call ‘not our mothers’), music critics and the general public alike in a state of confusion as the two groups were so indistinguishable in the first place, most believed them to only ever have been one band. However, for the sake of clarity, experts have devised a subtle method of distinguishing between the two: McFly were the group you felt bad about perving over as they were so young (now they’re largely legal it’s acceptable to do so, but in an unfortunate twist of face, few wish to); Busted were the group you didn’t want to perve over as they had the bad dye job you sported aged 14 after you were let loose in the bathroom with a bottle of bleach you found under the sink and mistook for peroxide. And, you know, eyebrows.

The news was announced on Monday at a press conference, which the invited journalists originally mistook for a hideous shirt convention, judging by the boys’ choice of attire. Face was saved only by the appearance of James Bourne, whose own wardrobe appears to have been cryogenically frozen since Busted were last current, to be wheeled out at the first sniff of a reunion. Well friends, that reunion is here. They’re describing themselves as a ‘pop supergroup’ and needless to say, this translates into an unjustifiably vast array of waistcoats already in rotation. See also the selection of obligatory ‘kooky’, ‘indie’ (read: hideously embarrassing) press shots that have since been released. Largely to cringing by all who’ve seen them. Vague interest from music fans was immediately quelled when Charlie Simpson put an end to rumours he might be appearing in the band over Twitter, with a concise, “No, I’m not…” Historians will note Simpson originally left the band to focus on music. We’re still waiting for him to do so.

Not ones to waste a minute of time and risk irrelevancy (ahem), their first public performance has already been scheduled for Friday, where they will be ‘playing’ (excuse the snigger) on Children In Need. Because apparently the children haven’t suffered enough already.

For cynics, bookies are already placing bets that their planned April/May tour will be cancelled due to poor sales. However, I fear they greatly underestimate irony.

To McBusted: may they change that wang of a name.

Dance Moms: Series 1 Episode 1

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A dramatic opening: mothers are screaming; girls are crying; people seem to fall into two camps of either jealous or crazy; and a woman who looks as if she owns several house coats that might smell of cat urine is stomping across the floor, rasping orders while some girl contorts into a boneless chicken fillet with an overly mascaraed head. This can only mean one thing: Dance Moms.

Cue opening credits of moms and daughters doing some cringe dancing, next to their names spelled out in giant block letters, before the hulking black figure of terror, Abby Lee, puts an end to all the fun, her hands firmly on her hips, the firm set of her jaw and narrowed lips suggesting she might kill you. DANCE MOMS! 

The first episode opens with an alarming amount of polyester. It’s competition time. Nationals! And we all know from watching Glee how important Nationals are.

Let’s meet the cast, shall we? First up it’s Abby Lee Miller herself, who appears to have misplaced her neck. Maybe this is why her voice sounds as if she gargles with gravel and the bones of small children.

“Coupe, grand jete, Chardonnay, Michael Buble,” she rasps at the floor of dancing children. It turns out, these are all dance moves. Apparently, Abby produces stars. We know this from the pan out of some of her trophies. You get the impression Abby makes stars in the same way diamonds are made, but it turns out she’s actually very caring. She raises some of these children as if they were her own (said with the underlying violence of someone who eats their young), staring down the cameraman so hard, you fear he may have wet himself. Let’s hope he’s not crying though! As Abby Lee can’t abide tears, as we see in the next scene, where she yells at a little girl for doing so.

But what have we here? Why, it’s the pyramid, where all the girls are rated according to their performance. “Everyone wants to be on top, but you have to work for it,” Abby explains, as you’re left with the overwhelming impression that she’s actually running an escort agency. This is partly because of the amount of makeup some of the small children are wearing in their headshots; partly because they’re posing like they’re setting a honey trap. Either way, you begin to feel distinctly uncomfortable. At the moment, Maddie’s on the top, which her mom pretends to feel bad about, “She’s always on the top,” while happily preening herself. Still in polyester though.

Let’s get a confessional from her, shall we? We get an insight into her home life, where she dreamily flips through a catalogue, while Maddie smugly points out it’s mainly of her. “There’s me. There’s me. There’s me.” What a winning little narcissist she’ll turn out to be. But uh oh! All is not well at home. Wearing a top made purely from glitter and (my guess) Pritstick, Melissa tells us about her (head twitch) “Ex to be” who blames dance for breaking up their marriage. But it’s ok! She’s found a new boyfriend and he foots the bills instead. “It’s about the kids,” she tells us with wide, staring, crack eyes.

Back to the studio!

“Those legs are about as straight as Elton John.” Abby gasps at the prancing girls.

Let’s meet Christi and her daughter, Chloe. Chloe is Maddie’s number one competition. Christi will do pretty much anything to make Chloe number one, including putting dance before school. “It’s probably not right,” she gurns.

Back at the studio, the mothers are all discussing the pyramid, bitching about how Maddie’s on top (big suh-prise ), ignoring Maddie’s mom, Melissa, who’s sat right next to them. Apparently, there’s a big soundproof wall between Melissa and the rest of the moms, which makes this all ok.

But the other moms—I mean, their daughters—might be in with a chance, as Maddie looks sick! “If she pukes, I’m not cleaning it up,” caring, loving Melissa intones, with a sassy wiggle of her finger. Maddie looks pale, has been seen retching and is dancing through a haze of tears, so Melissa goes to cheer her up, using comforting words such as “Stop acting like this. Are you going to throw up? You looked like you were going to throw up.” While telling the camera “I can’t stand. A child. That’s sick.” With a bracing, “You never miss dance. Let’s go,” tearful, sick little Maddie bravely troops back out onto the dance floor, to the bile of all the other moms.

It’s time for Abby to do some more yelling, threatening to have Paige’s head on a platter and telling the camera (surely by now left unattended) that she likes to be the ones to tell the girls their flaws and make them cry, before anyone else can. Flash over to Paige, her mom Kelly and her other daughter, Brooke. Brooke has been winning awards since she was six years old and Paige has also won an award. It turns out that Kelly also used to be a dancer! She started dancing with Abby when she was two and a half and has been dancing with her for 37 years. Yet she still sees fit to put her daughters through the same rigours. Brooke doesn’t want to dance anymore, preferring cheerleading instead. This makes Brooke an ungrateful little bitch. Kelly tries to make her feel bad by asking if it matters to her that “you’re not getting first and second anymore.” Brooke looks bored. “Not really.” Back in the confessional, Kelly’s smiling like she’s on uppers and saying that though her daughters can be mean (evils Bored Brooke), deep down, they appreciate what she does. Paige points and mouths “that’s her,” so there can be no confusion as to whom Kelly’s talking about.

Let’s go straight to Holly, shall we? Holly’s Nia’s mom. Nia is at the bottom of the pyramid. Again. In their confessional, Holly beams about over Nia’s talent. Nia practices her Demon Headmaster eyes. With a masters degree from Carnegie Mellon and currently studying at the University of Pennsylvania, whilst still holding down a job as a high school principal, Holly easily comes across as the most intelligent and accomplished mom in the group. Oh! And she also looks like Michelle Obama! Which is the biggest achievement of all. Nia shows off her crown. She didn’t win it. She had to buy it. Holly remains optimistic and supportive. “It’s coming.”

Welcome a new mom! It’s Cathy and Vivi-anne! Cathy explains she has a history of dance, running her own studio, while Vivi-anne sits next to her and mockingly mouths everything she’s saying, complete with hand gestures. I like Vivi-anne immediately. “Vivi has to dance.”

Cathy is “absolutely loaded with quirks.” We see this as we enter her house, which is what I would imagine the Neverland ranch to look like inside, except for little girls. “I love bunnies,” Cathy coos. She likes carrots too. They’re neat ‘cause they go with the bunnies. Cut to Vivi who looks like she’s been lobotomised. Pink is Cathy’s favourite colour, or, as she puts it, “a way of life.” Cut to Vivi: “I don’t like pink.” Which is a shame, because her bedroom seems to be decorated exclusively with pink bunnies. Unless this is Cathy’s room, which would be more fitting. Cathy talks like Bugs Bunny, which would probably be a compliment to her. Cathy has brought Vivi to Abby Lee’s studio so someone else can be the bitch that makes her daughter cry. “So you’re here as the mom…?” Abby clarifies.

“I’m here as the mom.”

“You’re not looking for a job?”

“Oh no, no… Yet.”

Then there’s an awkward moment when Cathy says “You go girlfriend” and gives Vivi a high-five. Let’s move on.

It’s the day before competition. But then! Someone’s arse walks into the studio! And boy, does it look clenched. Someone has worn the wrong outfit and this is a big no no for Abby Lee. It turns out the clenched arse is the girl’s mom. Who’s also a minister. “Yes I am a minister!” She screeches. “Let’s play the Bible game, Abby!” At this point, the screaming becomes unintelligible, but the Bible game doesn’t sound much fun. Abby throws the woman and her daughter out. Abby starts yelling at the daughter for not doing the right moves. One thinks her anger might be displaced and make a comment about picking on someone her own size but to be fair, there probably isn’t anyone Abby Lee’s size. After the woman chases Abby round the studio a bit, Abby calls the police. “She does not have weapons, just her mouth,” she explains while correcting one student’s point. 

It’s competition time. “We’re like the glammed up Beverly Hillbillies,” Christie explains in the best line to date. Behind the scenes, everything’s going to hell: costumes aren’t finished and one girl’s had the wrong manicure. Christi and Kelly decide to diffuse the tension by going to the bar. Abby’s found them, coming storming through the bar. She’s not happy. Kelly and Christie ‘double fist’ (“I don’t double fist when I’m with my kids! I double fist when I’m in college.”), before heading back to the girls. Kelly then burns Paige with her curling iron, before blaming it on Paige. “She walked right into the curling iron.” Someone grabs ice (maybe from her cocktail), while little Nia comforts Paige with the sage words: “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t have any underwear on.” 

The first dance goes off without a hitch, though they only win third place, which means the trio dance has to be amazing. But then disaster strikes: Chloe’s headband falls down her face! At one point, not considering pushing it up, she dances blind. This leaves Abby and Christie to go outside for a shouting match, where Abby accuses Christie of being a drunk mess.

“Remember, I pay your bills!” Christie shouts, which appears to be the equivalent of saying ‘your ass looks big in those knock off Juicy jeans.

“You pay your bills late,” Abby hisses back. Equivalent: your weave looks cheap.

Somehow, they win anyway and the world is saved from ending.

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