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Lifetime, the TV network that "celebrates, entertains, and supports women," has finally pushed its schadenfreude reality programming too far. After airing an extraordinarily child-sexualizing episode of Dance Moms once, the network pulled the episode from rotation and scrubbed it from the internet. The episode in question? "Topless Showgirls," in which a troop of 8- to 13-year-old girls simulate toplessness and perform a burlesque.
The episode aired once two weeks ago. A Lifetime spokesperson confirms that, after airing the episode, the network decided never to air it again and never to make it available on iTunes, Amazon, or MyLifetime.com.
In "Topless Showgirls," Pittsburgh dance instructor Abby Lee Miller teaches her students a "classic" burlesque fan dance, which they are to perform in flesh-toned bras to create the "illusion of nudity." The dance must convey that the children are "hot," "mean," and that men "can't afford" them.
Though the girls wince at the prospect of appearing naked onstage and their mothers cringe at the skimpy costumes, the show goes on, and the girls perform at a children's dance competition. "I like to push the envelope," Miller says. "And this is taking it right to the limit."
Coincidentally, the yanked episode contains a subplot in which a child is transformed into a literal piece of meat. Starring in an advertisement for "The Sausage King of Canton, Ohio"—who happens to be a dance father—10-year-old Chloe must wear the beef jerky version of Lady Gaga's meat dress.
Dance Moms is in its second season, and part of a burgeoning genre of maternal schadenfreude reality shows. ("They make us look good," a Toddlers and Tiaras mother once said of Dance Moms.) The show focuses on Miller's dance studio and a troop of six young dancers and their mothers. No other episode of Dance Moms has ever been yanked after it aired.