‘Dance Moms’: Is the Show Scripted? The Cast Reveals the Truth

When Lifetime first thought of the concept for Dance Moms, they had no idea that it would be so successful. But for 8 seasons, fans were absolutely enamored with the talented dancers, their mothers, and the inevitable drama the show fostered. Because the show was so incredibly volatile, fans have often questioned if the show was real or fake. But is the popular reality TV show scripted? The cast got candid about the truth.

cast of the unscripted 'Dance Moms' season 2 show
Dance Moms Season 2 cast | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Is ‘Dance Moms’ scripted?

Most shows that are branded as “reality” have a scripted component. However, Dance Moms is unique in that the original cast didn’t get a script. Because almost all of the original cast knew each other for years prior to the show filming, they had a history with one another that created natural drama, especially in the early seasons.

The cast got candid about if the show is real or fake

Back in 2020, Holly Hatcher-Frazier, Melissa Gisoni, Kelly Hyland, and Jill Vertes gave a joint interview about their experiences on the show. In the interview, Hatcher-Frazier and Gisoni revealed that Dance Moms fans are constantly questioning them about whether the show was real or fake. “I will say no one ever handed me a script,” Hatcher-Frazier shared with Entertainment Tonight.

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But even though the show wasn’t scripted there were elements that were fabricated or enhanced. The producers would often do clever editing to make the show more interesting. Furthermore, the producers were very skilled at mapping out a storyline and doing everything in their power to manipulate the cast into delivering the storyline that they wanted.

How the ‘Dance Moms’ producers set the cast up

“We never got a script but they knew what they wanted every week and they would set you up,” Gisoni revealed, speaking about the producers of Dance Moms. “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, echoing her long-time friend.

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By listening in on the cast’s conversations, the producers were able to get tons of information that would help feed the narrative that they created. Furthermore, in many instances, it was the producers (not Abby Lee Miller) who controlled who got solos, duos, and trios and determined where the dancers fell on the pyramid. This was another tactic that was used to create drama and heighten already existing tension.

In many ways ‘Dance Moms’ was just like any other reality TV show

While Dance Moms may not be a scripted show, it was still highly produced just like any other reality TV show. Fans need only to look at deleted scenes to see that not everyone was represented accurately. Furthermore, the cast (especially the dancers) had a lot more fun times together that never made it to the screen. Dance Moms may not have been fake, but it wasn’t entirely real either.