Dance Makeovers with Abby’s Studio Rescue

Abby Lee Miller peers through the window of a dancer's soul on Abby's Studio Rescue.
Abby's Studio Rescue (Photo: Lifetime)

Abby Lee Miller tries her hand at the business makeover genre with the new Lifetime series Abby’s Studio Rescue. Will it have you dancing in the aisles?

Show

Abby’s Studio Rescue airs on Lifetime Tuesdays at 9pm.

Premise

Abby Lee Miller (Dance Moms) travels the country to help restore failing dance studios. After tinkering with personnel, gossipy studio moms, and the physical space, the dance studio has to put on a showcase or it could be their last chance to dance.

Pedigree

Many of the producers from Dance Moms are on this project, but so is Sandi Johnson (Undercover BossHell’s Kitchen) and Heather Schuster (Tabatha Takes Over). In other words, there is a lot of experience in the various genre checkboxes this show is trying to cover.

Who is Abby’s Studio Rescue For?

This is more for the fans of Abby and Dance Moms than it is for business makeover enthusiasts.

What Works

The business makeover aspect is fairly straightforward. What I enjoy about shows like Bar Rescue or Save Our Business is that you get to see fundamental business concepts applied in a variety of contexts. For example, inconsistent scheduling at a child’s play place would have similar consequences at a dance studio, or obnoxious teaching staff is no different than an obnoxious bar staff. There are real stakes at play—someone’s business could go under—and Abby’s Studio Rescue illustrates the point.

What Doesn’t Work

The pilot episode demonstrates how this genre can stumble, and that’s when there is insufficient buy-in from the participants. In Tuesday’s episode, studio owner Marlaina had developed a severe anxiety disorder as her business crumbled around her. It had reached a point where she was not coming in to the studio, even when Abby called to say “Hi, I’m here, where are you?” If what you are doing is causing that degree of anxiety, perhaps you are in the wrong line of work. As a result, Marlaina never came across as even 75% invested in the process, and if she doesn’t care why should the audience?

This problem intensifies following the physical space makeover. After enlisting the dads to paint and spackle (because women can’t pick up a paintbrush?), we are treated to an extended product placement segment with the total cost of renovation coming in at well over $30,000. Yes, the physical space needed upgrading, but again this queen for a day setup rings hollow.

The final act of the show deals with the dance showcase, which is supposed to be the make it or break it climax, which makes zero sense. Yes, the arts are an important part of the community, but the audience is made up of friends and family of the participants. I suppose it is similar to an investor presentation, but the negative outcome may be to go to the dance studio across town. I guess I’m arguing for dance studio Darwinism—or minimal genuine story resolution.

Verdict

Abby’s Studio Rescue is obviously a vanity project for Miller that barely qualifies as a business makeover show. Several clips suggest other working titles were “Abby to the Rescue” (eh) or “Last Chance to Dance” (BETTER), but neither conveys a sense of why the audience should care about the outcome. You do get Abby screaming at people, so if you are into that by all means watch.

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv