For a few years I have posted a tongue in cheek review of each week’s DWTS during the season. With a background of 40 years of teaching and dancing ballroom I know a little bit of what I speak. But I don’t really get into the technicalities. My posts are usually scurrilous, frequently profane and always catty. I’m a curmudgeonly old man and I call it like I see it. It’s my blog so I can say what I want. Some find it amusing; some wish I’d go away. I’m going to post my thoughts here on the blog. Aside from this one, it won’t take the place of my weekly short story (unless I run out). I’ll just put a menu tab for DWTS.
Dancing With the Stars: Preview
As predictable as a plague of locusts it’s that time of year again. Dancing With The Stars is upon us. Wow. A new season and hardly a star in sight. Used to be they had a few stars but seems it has now devolved into people few have ever heard of, has beens, and people who are known for being known, not anything they may have done. I call it Mysterious Notoriety. An example is Paris Hilton. Or the Kardashians. Why are these people famous? And this year is no exception. They are offering a gallywhumpus of misbegotten misfits and pusillanimous personae. Sadly, the definition of ‘star’ seems to have gone downhill. I always think of the classic definition- movie stars, stage stars, TV stars and music stars. These are few and far between in this crowd. One comic once commented that Dancing with the Stars would be more accurate if called Dancing with the Vaguely Familiar. So true.
I have been tempted to boycott this season after last year’s debacle. It was won by a talentless radio personality from Arkansas. He couldn’t dance a bit but apparently everyone in Arkansas voted for him. I hate when block voting lifts the talentless over better qualified dancers. I keep reminding myself that, regardless of what Len says, it’s not a dance competition, it’s a popularity contest. Thus we end up with anomalies like Bobby Bones or that stumblebum baseball player the year before. When you leave voting in the hands of the public you sometimes get unpleasant results (like Trump). Occasionally there is a break out dancer who just wows everyone and runs away with it. Nyle DiMarco comes to mind. But then, I thought that was happening for Juan Pablo last season. He was killing it until suddenly bumped for some unfathomable reason. Even the judges were pissed.
I’m also annoyed at the departure of Sharna Burgess and Artem (I’m not even going to try his last name). I can understand Sharna. She’s getting older and she has her mirror ball now. Artem said he wanted to come back but was dropped. Why? He was a wonderful dancer and partner. He was a great example of masculinity married to grace. He was one of my favorites.
Over the years DWTS seemed to pull in their celebrities (a better and more accurate word than stars) based on categories. Archetypes even. Such as:
Divas/Icons. These have tended to be bona fide stars. People like Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Florence Henderson, Cloris Leachman, George Hamilton, Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, Valerie Harper, Billy Dee Williams. People we have actually heard of and consider stars. This year we have Mary Wilson. She was a Supreme. And not one of the nine who sit in Washington. She stood behind Diana Ross and said doo wa. Still I consider her the only true star on this year’s show. Maybe Kate Flannery. I’ve never seen The Office. It seems like a lower tier TV show, but what do I know?
NFLers. Emmett Smith, Jerry Rice, Jason Taylor, Warren Sapp. The show always has a few football players. They usually do well. All that stepping inside tires at practice makes them nimble and quick on their feet. Ray Lewis gets the nod this year and an honorable mention for Lamar Odom since he’s basketball. Bballers have not been successful on the show. Too tall.
Boy Band Refugees. Aaron Carter, Nick Carter, Mario Lopez, Joey Fatone, Joey Lawrence, Lance Bass, Drew Lashay, Nick Lashay. It seems all the Backstreet Boys and InSync have been on the show at one time or another. They seem to have cleared out all the boy bands. What about Boyzone and Menudo? Now they have moved on to girl bands – Pussycat Dolls and Fifth Harmony. Nicole Schwerzinger won it running away along with Derek Hough. He could probably win with a potato sack as a partner though. I mean he even got Big Girl from Glee across the finish line. He strangely couldn’t do much with L’il Kim, though. Fifth Harmony’s steatopygian Normani did respectably on the last outing. Ally Brooke will now try. BTW I only recently noticed that Camila Caballo ( of the recently wildly popular “Havana-na-na”) was with Fifth Harmony at one time.
People Seeking Redemption. Paula Deen (no), Kate Gosselin (definitely no), the Kardashians (Kim, nope; Robbie, yes), Li’l Kim (no), Jerry Springer (surprisingly, yes), Ryan Lockte (kinda). This is definitely the place for Sean Spicer. I don’t know who came up with him, but it was actually pretty savvy. People will watch just to see what he does. I have to give him credit for fleeing the Trump madness. I’m predisposed to like him just for that. He seems to be be pretty funny when he’s had a drink or three. Maybe they can let him have a few in the Celebrequarium and he can entertain us with his sparkling repartee. Maybe Sarah Huckabee Sanders next season. She’ll have to learn to wear a dress like a lady and stop fidgeting with her bra strap.
Embarrassments, WTF or Why?. Tom Delay, Steve Wozniak, Redfoo, Macy Gray, David Hassellhoff, Michael Waltrip, Rick Perry, Charo, Kareem Abdul Jabar. This sometimes is a catchall category. Since DWTS has cleared the celebrity B listers and C listers, they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Remember the bull rider? Or the rodeo guy who kept calling his partner Miss Whitney. So many times after scratching my head and saying “who?”, my next question is “why?” There are a few this year. Hannah Brown has two claims to ‘fame’. She was on the Bachelorette aka “I can’t find me a man so I need to troll the whole damn country” and was Miss Alabama. Since her state seems to be winning the race with West Virginia to see which can be the most backward state, I wouldn’t brag about it. And Queer Eye guy Karamo. Is he the token homosexual? They’ve taken to being a little more inclusive recently. They also had that Carson guy from Queer Eye and Lance Bass. They even had Chaz Bono to represent transsexuals. I’d like to see them run a transsexual who hasn’t had their parts altered. I mean who DOESN’T want to see RuPaul on DWTS? They had a drag queen on DWTS Australia this year. Christie Brinkley? Okay, everybody knows her so the name recognition is good. She’s rich as God, but all I can tell that she has done is have her picture taken and marry and divorce Billy Joel. But she has also lasted nearly 50 years in the business without saying or doing something so unutterably stupid that the whole world hates her. Not so easy these days. Maybe she’s just really a nice person. Still doesn’t answer why she’s on the show. However, models have rarely done well on the show. Except for the brainless Brooke Burke. They tend to be stiff for whatever reason.
Career Reboot. All the Backstreet Boys, Mario Lopez, Ralph Macchio, Frankie Munez, Vanilla Ice. The bills gotta be paid, you know. This is where I put James van der Beek. The Dawson’s Creek and BH90210 kids have not done well. One died recently, one has been reduced to playing a dad on Riverdale, several have been in and out of rehab. I checked James VDB’s work and found he recently worked on Vampirina. Nuff said. Kel Mitchell may be a ringer. He’s listed as a comedian but has done some TV and movie stuff. In 2011 he was in “Dance Fu”, a kung fu/dance movie. So he’s had some dance experience. Most recently idb says he’s in Spongebob Squarepants. I guess it’s a voice part. The only live action I’ve seen is Spongebob on Ice. Not sure I’d put either on my resume. And Lauren Alaina is listed as a country music star. Well, kinda. She was a runner up on American Idol. But maybe being runner up means she’s good. Like Clay Aiken. I mean, who remembers the guy who beat him? Although another Idol winner took DWTS by storm – NC’s own Kelly Pickler. But she charmed her way to the mirror ball, plus she was a good dancer.
Creepy. Gary Busey wins this category hands down but I think Macy Gray gave him a good chase. Still, Rick Perry’s bromance with Vanilla Ice was the stuff nightmares are made of. As creepy as Bing Crosby singing a Christmas carol with David Bowie.
Kids. Bindi Irwin, Zendaya, Bristol Palin, Milo Manheim, Duck Dynasty swamp girl. Kids usually do well, except NC’s Hayes Grier from a few seasons back. They’re kinda hard to break.
Handicapped People. Linda McCartney (one leg), Marlee Matlin (deaf), Noah Galloway (one leg, one arm), J.R. Martinez (deformed face), Amy Purdy (no feet), Nyle DiMarco (deaf), Danelle (blind), Terra Jole, the midget lady (Poor Sasha was saddled with her. When he first met her the look on his face was priceless. It totally said “OMFG what am I supposed to do with this?)
Olympians. Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno, Dorothy Hamill, Charlie White, Meryl Davis, Evan Lysacek (I sense a theme here), Shawn Johnson. Athletes also do well. We call it Dance Sport for a reason.
People We Love Just Because. Jane Seymour, Dawn Welles (Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island), Bill Engvall, Tommy Chong, Danica McKellar (Winnie on Wonder Years), Niecy Nash (and all her jiggly parts), Susan Lucci, Pamela Sue Anderson. Not any lovable scamps on the new season.
People We Love To Hate Just Because. Nancy Grace, Jerry Springer, Kate Gosselin, Tamar Braxton, Pamela Sue Anderson. Sean Spicer might also fit this category for some.
Singers Who Surprisingly Have No Sense Of Rhythm. Billy Ray Cyrus, Michael Bolton, Master P, Wayne Newton. I have to say I was so surprised.
Heroes. Buzz Aldrin (the man couldn’t dance a lick but he made 11 year old me want to be an astronaut), Noah Galloway, Alek Skarlatos, J.R. Martinez. Everybody loves a hero. I wish we had one to like this season.
People With Funny Accents. Helio Castroneves, Gilles Marini, Victor Espinoza, Cristian de la Fuente, Kelly Pickler, Bindi Irwin.
(Scary factoid: I pulled nearly all the above from off the top of my head. I did need to look up a few last names. I seem to have an alarming amount of my limited brain space devoted to this).
So there you have it. This year’s miscellany of miscreants. Off the top of my head without seeing anything about the contestants I’d say Mary Wilson won’t last long. She’s 75 years old. Ally Brooke, Ray Lewis and Kel Mitchell are my bets to do well. We’ll see. It starts up next week. Get the popcorn ready.