The lawsuits have taken many turns, but Abby Lee Miller was back last night with a new season of dancing and unscripted drama on Dance Moms. Paying homage to Jay-Z’s hit 2004 song, the Season 5 premiere was titled “99 Problems But A Mom Ain’t One,” and that was certainly the case: The season opener saw exiting dancers and a potential move to LA — and former student Paige Hyland’s legal action against Miller was front and center.
Despite all that controversy, the ratings for Lifetime’s 9 PM premiere stumbled from the Season 4 opener in January 2014. Tuesday night’s show drew 1.8 million viewers, down 25% from the 2.4 million who tuned in for the Season 4 premiere. That show got a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49. Last night’s episode had 750,000 viewers among the key demo and a 0.6 rating, also down 25% premiere-to-premiere. Last night’s episode was up 29% in viewers and 9% in the demo from Season 4’s midseason return on July 29.
The all-time high for Dance Moms is the Season 3 premiere on January 1, 2013, when the 90-minute show pulled in 2.8 million total viewers and 1.4 million adults 18-49 for a 1.1 rating.
A lot of last season and last night’s show were under a legal cloud. Former Dance Mom Kelly Hyland and her daughters Paige and Brooke first filed a $5 million complaint against Miller and the show’s producers Collins Avenue Entertainment in mid-February last year. That nine-claim complaint, which included an assault claim, came out of a November 22, 2013, faceoff between Miller and the elder Hyland over the “bullying and insulting” way the former was treating the daughters on the show. With the younger Hylands looking on, the two women screamed at each other, with Miller lunging forward and Hyland then slapping her. In typical reality TV style, the incident was shown on the series last year.
Paige Hyland filed her assault charge against Miller in October. On November 17, LA Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan threw out the defamation and emotional distress claims. The breach-of-contract claims against Collins Avenue can still move ahead.
And there will be more legal drama, at least on Dance Moms. Episode 2 of this season is titled “Abby Got Served.”
Meanwhile, Lifetime did get some good news on New Year’s Day. The Season 2 debut of Little Women: LA hit viewership and demo highs, with 1.5 million total tuning in and 818,000 18-49s. That’s a 84% rise in total viewers and a 111% leap among the demo from the show’s Season 1 debut last May.