When it comes to reality shows, bigger personalities tend to be best. We may not exactly want to go out for a drink with some of them, but they are awfully entertaining to watch. Reality series Dance Moms on Lifetime has benefited from the big personality of dance coach Abby Lee Miller for five seasons now. As it happens, however, Miller may not be quite as prominent as she has been in years past. Thanks to some behind-the-scenes squabbling, Miller may be benching herself for bits of the sixth season.
If I’ve gone missing from a few episodes in Season 6, don’t believe anything anybody says. No doubt, I am fighting with a producer.

Abby Lee Miller is such a fixture on Dance Moms that it’s hard to imagine the show going very long without her. She has been absent on a few occasions throughout the series’ run so far, but her comments in a December 7 newsletter as reported by Deadline indicate that it will be from issues deeper than scheduling that she’ll be off the air. According to Miller, it will be a matter of principle regarding the treatment of her dancers.

While it’s certainly an admirable sentiment for Miller to prioritize the safe and respectful treatment of her young dancers over her own appearances on the show, her pre-emptive rant extolling her own virtues for disappearing every now and then seems a bit like overkill. Still, it’s that abrasive attitude that made her so entertaining on the first five seasons of the show. At least it’s a given that her personality isn’t staged.

Of course, it’s not the first given that showed her true personality. Abby Lee Miller has run into trouble behind the scenes on more than one occasion. Former Dance Moms dance mom figure Kelly Hyland sued her for $5 million after an altercation that left her feeling threatened and uncomfortable. All charges were dropped before the case could proceed too far, but the lawsuit drew plenty of attention beforehand.

Unlike the legal troubles that fell through with the lawsuit from Hyland, Miller’s current legal troubles won’t just be going away. Her reality fame got her into some hot water when the judge presiding over her bankruptcy claim saw an episode and began to wonder why no income from Dance Moms had been reported. Charges now include bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets, and false bankruptcy declarations. If she is convicted, she could go to prison for five years and be faced with upward of $5 million in fines.

Abby Lee Miller may have some absences from Dance Moms in Season 6 on her own terms, as things get even messier behind the scenes. But, she may be gone a lot less willingly if her messiness gets even messier. Either way, Dance must go on. Season 6 premieres at 9 p.m. ET, January 5, on Lifetime.

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