I watched Dancing with the Stars tonight.
“That is truly a trashy show,” my husband says.
No, it isn’t. It is one of the most charming shows on TV. I sit down and watch it for two hours every Monday and am fascinated by the drama–well, it’s a fake drama, but I still enjoy it– as well as the dancing.
You get to know the characters.
You get to know the dancers.
You get to know the judges.
Most of the dancers dramatically improve.
It’s not just about the dance: there is also narrative. Short clips of the sweaty practice sessions are shown before each dance routine. Dancers temporarily defeated by the demands of the dance let off steam by crying, leaving the room, or punching the wall. Those first steps are so clumsy that it seems impossible that a polished dance routine will emerge. Then it does.
I started watching the show because Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Olympic Gold Medalist ice dancers, are two of the competitors this season. They do not, however, dance together. The “stars” are paired with professional dancers.
The stars? Well, yes, that part is a joke, except for the Olympians. Quite a few of them are has-beens–this season, there are/were two washed-up sitcom stars from the ’80s-90s, Candace Cameron Bure from Full House and Danica McKellar from the Wonder Years. At first I thought Candace Cameron Bure was a barracuda. (Now I think she was just anxious.) The one who MAY have been a barracuda was Danica McKellar, a slightly better dancer who reminded me of a cheerleader. I disliked her girl-next-door widening of eyes and jumping up and down; beneath it she seemed arrogant. She was voted off the show, and I’m not sure it had anything to do with her dancing.
Then there’s Amy Purdy, a double-amputee who won a Paralympic Bronze Medal in snowboarding at Sochi this year. She dances elegantly on prosthetic legs.
The judges give their scores, but viewers also phone in their “votes.” Sometimes the bad dancers are voted off; sometimes the good dancers. Although Charlie White got 40 out of 40 last week and 40 out of 40 this week for one of his two dances, he was eliminated.
And this is why it is is absurd to give viewers a voice and let them call a 1-800 number and vote on who stays and who goes. Far better to let the judges decide, as they do on Master Chef.
Next week we have the finals, and I certainly hope Meryl and Maks win. How my vote fits in I don’t know, but that’s the way we live in America now. Yup, I dialed that number. That’s one vote from flyover country. I’m voting to back up the judges’ scores, and because Meryl and Maks are the best dancers.