It’s time again for them to trot out the multitude of misbegotten mid-level talented creatures that answer the call of DWTS. In its 30 seasons, over 100 so called stars have strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage and as Macbeth predicted, became a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Over the seasons I have detected a certain pattern in who shows up. There are Archetypes or tropes of the characters. Here’s what I’ve gleaned.
Final bow: Well-known personalities, now failing, who want one last hurrah before the old folks home. Examples were Valery Harper, Cloris Leachman, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Seeking redemption: They have committed some social faux pas and are hoping to redeem themselves. Paula Deen (nope), Ryan Lochte (not really), Nancy Grace (nuh uh), Tonya Harding (Oh puhleeze), Sean Spicer (kinda), Jerry Springer (surprisingly, yes).
People we love just because: Jane Seymour, Florence Henderson, Dawn Wells, Tommy Chong, Danica McKellar (Winnie from the Wonder Years), Niecy Nash.
Jumpstart failing career: Their career is going down the toilet and this is their last gasp effort to salvage it. Ralph Macchio, Vanilla Ice, the cast of BH90210, and a boatload of others. Let’s face it. They all pretty much fall in this category. How many people with vibrant careers take a turn on DWTS?
Boy/Girl band refugee: When they realize you can’t be a teenager forever. Pretty much all of the Backstreet Boys and In Sync.
Children of famous people with no discernible talent: They get by on name recognition. Chaz Bono, Rumer Willis (actually she won), Sailor Brinkley.
Olympian: Familiar with training, physicality and knowing where their body is in space, they always do well. It’s called Dance Sport for a reason. Apolo Ono, Kristi Yamaguchi, Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Dorothy Hamill, Johnny Weir, Evan Lysacek ( I sense a theme).
Athlete: Same as Olympian, these are usually football, baseball and basketball players. Sometimes you have the odd athlete such as a bull rider, a jockey, a snowboarder, and a race car driver won one year. Usually football players do best. I guess the running in and out of the tires gives them nimble feet. Emmitt Smith, Warren Sapp, Jason Taylor.
Diva: Frequently real stars, larger than life and flamboyant. Always fun to watch. Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Charo. And who out there doesn’t want to see RuPaul on DWTS?
Bachelor/Bachlorette: There is some weird symbiosis between them and DWTS. They crop up like mushrooms after a rain.
This is your 15 minutes: The national spotlight picked them up just as the producers realized they needed more dancers for the program. Alek Skarlatos (saved people on a train).
Social Media sensation with no real purpose: The so-called influencers who infest the internet. No one remembers them the next year. Alexis Ren, Hayes Grier.
Bonafide stars: Few and far between. Jane Seymour, Milo Manheim, Tommy Chong.
Heroes: Usually make a quick exit. Often the same as the Final Bow crowd. Buzz Aldrin.
Oddities: People with handicapping conditions such as sensory deprivation or missing limbs. Even the occasional dwarf. Nyle Dimarco, Lynda McCartney, Noah Galloway, Terra Jolé.
Surprisingly inept musicians: You’d think musicians would have a sense of timing and rhythm, but DWTS seems to find the ones who don’t. Brian Bolton, Billy Ray Cyrus, Master P.
WTF?: Sometimes you just look at the celebrity and say “WTF?” Bobby Bones, Macy Gray, Redfoo, Rick Perry, Gary Busey (actually a star, he also wins the Creepy as Hell prize).
There are many crossovers, but you get the idea.
So, how does this year’s crop measure up? Are they hitting all the tropes? Let’s see.
Martin Kove Final Bow. He’s a 75 year old whose career stalled in the 80s. He never got out of Karate Kid.
Olivia Jade Social media leech, Child of a famous person and Seeking redemption. She’s checking off a lot of boxes.
JoJo Siwa I’d put her under Seeking redemption because she’s already garnered so much bad press for being a professional dancer. She’s not exactly alone.
Mel C Girl band refugee
Brian Austin Green A subcategory of Boyband refugees are past Teen TV show cast, such as this guy from Beverly Hills 90210.
Sunisa Lee Olympian, check.
Iman Shumpert Athlete: NBA player
Mike Misanin Athlete: wrestler. The last two wrestlers were women.
Matt James Bachelor, check.
Melora Hardin Actress
Amanda Kloots I think I’m going to have to create a special group for Talk show hosts. They seem to have one every year.
Kenya Moore I guess I need a special category for “Reality” celebrities who think they are actors.
Christine Chiu A crazy rich Asians knockoff. Another Reality show.
Melora Hardin, Christine Chiu, and Kenya Moore claim to be “actresses”. So do a lot of people waiting tables. Melora has seen steady work as a background character, but I wouldn’t actually classify her as a star. Kenya Moore apparently has more name recognition, but a show about Housewives? Really? When I found out she was on Housewives of Atlanta, I’m not sure if I was more astounded there is a show with that name or that people actually watch it.
Jimmie Allen Musician. We have yet to see if he is surprisingly inept at dancing.
Cody Rigsby WTF? A Peloton instructor? How did he end up here? And he’s a professional dancer. I’ll have to support him, though. He’s a homey from Greensboro, NC.
For the first time ever, I don’t know a single “star” they have selected. Admittedly, I don’t watch a lot of television. It’s just too abysmal. The slight exception is that I was aware there was a girl called Sporty Spice. I’d just heard the word, that’s all when Mel B. was on the show. I understand Sporty was Mel C.’s moniker when she was a Spice Girl. And I do remember hearing Suni Lee’s name on the news. I didn’t get around to watching the Olympics this year.
Four of the “stars” this year, if you look up their bio, one of the first words you see is “dancer”. JoJo, Amanda (she was a freaking Rockette), Cody, and Mel C. Doesn’t exactly make for a level playing field. But then, it’s not about the dancing. It’s about creating a spectacle that rivets our attention like a roadside accident and drums up votes. How else do you explain train wrecks like Bobby Bones?