‘Dance Moms’: How the Producers Manipulated the Cast to Get the Storylines They Wanted

Almost everyone who follows reality TV knows that what eventually makes it on the screen isn’t always what really happened. Thanks to producers’ meddling and editing, things can be manipulated and twisted in order to cause the drama that draws viewers in. Of course, the hit Lifetime show, Dance Moms, is no exception to this rule. While the cast certainly had their fair share of arguments, the producers of Dance Moms were often able to manipulate the mothers to get the storylines they wanted.

Dance Moms cast
Dance Moms Season 2 cast | Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Recently, four members of the Dance Moms cast: Dr. Holly Hatcher-Frazier, Melissa Gisoni, Kelly Hyland, and Jill Vertes sat down with Entertainment Tonight and revealed some of what went on behind the scenes of Dance Moms. While they debunked the claim that the show was in any way scripted, they did share that the producers had certain storylines in mind and they would manipulate the cast to get the storylines that wanted.

How the ‘Dance Moms’ producers manipulated the cast

“We never got a script but they knew what they wanted every week and they would set you up,” Gisoni shared about the Dance Moms producers. “That’s really what reality shows are you know.” “The producers would have three storylines that they really manipulated us to get to,” Vertes shared in agreement. But how were the Dance Moms producers able to craft such intricate storylines, many of them rooted in reality? Vertes said they used the cast’s ever-present microphones to listen in on their personal conversations.

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“They would create these storylines just from listening to us talking,” Vertes shared, her fellow Dance Moms alums nodding in agreement. “We had those mics on for 12 hours a day, so they would hear us talking. [They heard] our personal conversations with our friends or our children, on our phones home to our husbands, so they knew what was going on in our lives. And I know, for me, it took me a while to figure that out. I’m like ‘How’d they know that? Oh, they heard me talking on the phone.'”

The power of editing

Of course, when the cast of Dance Moms figured out that they were being listened to constantly, they began turning their microphones off. But still, the producers found a way to manipulate situations for the sake of the show. And, on the off chance that the moms realized that they were being manipulated and they reconciled, the producers would just edit the resolution right out of the show for the sake of more drama. Once they even took a fight that one of the dance moms, Kira Girard, had with a producer and edited to make it seems like she was fighting with another mom, Jessalyn Siwa.

They can edit you any way they want,” Gisoni shared. “There were a lot of things said not in the context where they had us saying them,” Vertes agreed. “Like Kira, for instance, threw a bottle at a camera person or a producer. It was so funny and it made it look like she was throwing it at one of us,” Gisoni shared about her fellow Dances Moms alum. “And she was was mad at the producer. She whipped the bottle and they made it look like she was throwing it at Jess,” Vertes added.

‘Dance Moms’ fans were shown a altered reality

Clearly, fans of Dance Moms only have a skewed understanding of what really went down between the cast members. While we can’t deny that producers’ manipulation like made the show more entertaining, at least the moms seem to have developed and maintained a real friendship despite all the drama the show caused.