Dancing with the Stars Proves America is a Jerk

I never got into viewer-decided competition programming. I have still never seen an episode of American Idol though I’m still well averse in the vocabulary. I know all about Simon, Paula, Ryan Seacrest, William Hung, etc. I couldn’t ignore it if I tried. And believe me, I have tried.

Consequently, I was never interested in Dancing with the Stars. Who cares if fading celebrities can ballroom dance? I didn’t care if they could do circus tricks either. There was nothing they could do to get me to tune in. Until they brought in the Guttes…

steveguttenbergI love Steve Guttenberg. LOVE him. His movie persona was ingrained in me as a child and I never stopped appreciating him. He of the curly locks, inappropriately tight pants, dorky grin and patch of chest hair. He’s the most wholesome guy to ever play smarmy and the smarmiest guy to ever play wholesome. And then he reinvented himself as a bad guy on one of the greatest TV shows of the last 10 years, Veronica Mars. The guy is practically a genius.

But whoo boy, he cannot dance. Not a bit. I checked out DWTS for him and him only and expected to watch only until he got kicked off. It was pretty clear from the get-go that he didn’t have long. But then something unexpected happened. I developed a girl crush on Shannon Elizabeth.

She’d barely registered with me before. I saw her in that pie-humping movie that became an unwarranted franchise. As a poker enthusiast myself, I was vaguely aware of the fact that she kicked ass in those celebrity tournaments hosted by Dave Foley and a bottle of scotch. But I never had an opinion about her until I met her on DWTS It quickly became clear from the behind-the-scenes clips that she’s a really cool sweet girl with a random career and a little bit of asshole trouble. She’s silly and a self-described dork. What’s not to love? Teamed up with the Mark Hamill-esque Derek, she was also one of the best dancers of the season.

shannonelizabethThe judges can be pretty infuriating whatwith their whimsical judging. Their scoring appears to have very little to do with performance competence and everything to do with who they decide to pity that week. At first they ripped Marissa, the spazzy Broadway chick, apart for being, well, spazzy. But then they took to her. Even though she hasn’t improved much, she is getting crazy high marks. They were also overly kind to “Actress and Business Woman” Priscilla Presley. While she is a nice enough woman with a tragic story, she is not as much of a natural as they say.

But it’s not about the judges. America is who decides the fates of the contestants. They were right to get rid of gawky Penn Jillette, stiff Adam Corolla and dreadful Monica Seles. Even my beloved Guttes was admittedly hopeless when it came to the dance. But once the obvious dead weight was gone, America, fickle mistress that she is, started voting based on personal preference.

In week five, we learned that America pities the deaf over the plastic surgery casualty, as they gave Priscilla the boot. By the following week, they had tired of the “profoundly deaf” Marlee Matlin as well. Even the judges were more harsh with Marlee that week, taking more issue with her timing being off than Marissa once again resorting to shimmying. (She has one move people. One move. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.)

They said some harsh things to Shannon, calling her gawky and awkward and gangly. Meanwhile, they are overly complimentary to the entirely unremarkable Mario and Jason. Jason’s Monday night football routine was OK, but he still looks like of like Frankenstein’s monster out there. Mario has to unbutton his shirt to make his routine interesting.


But I was always enthralled with Shannon and Derek’s numbers. They were so energetic and you could see how hard they worked in every performance. Moreover, BOTH of them gave their dances equal energy. The other teams, with the exception of Kristi (the Guch!), often allowed the professional dancer to pull most of the weight. Why weren’t the judges seeing this? I was glad that Shannon and Derek ranted about the unfairness of it all. They were right to think they were being singled out. So much sloppiness and laziness out there fro their competitors and yet, Shannon was being picked on for being tall. They sheepishly apologized for going off on the judges the following week, but I didn’t think they owed anyone that apology.

I thought everyone could see that. I thought the judges were just being crazy. When the entertaining Cristian hurt his arm, I felt awful for him. He seemed so frustrated at not being able to finish the dance. I really wanted him to stay. As I said, I don’t normally do this sort of thing. I have never voted for a TV show contestant in my life. But I went to ABC.com and voted for Cristian to stay. While I was there, I used 3 of my voted for Shannon. I didn’t think she was in trouble, but just in case. She so clearly deserved to be there. I thought America could see that.

But I should have known better. If they don’t pity a plastic surgery casualty or a profoundly deaf woman, why would they pity talented beauty who received unfairly harsh criticism. Perhaps she fell out of favor when she told it like it was. Perhaps Derek was being punished for standing up for her. Whatever the reason, she is gone. Marissa will return to shimmy and Mario will once again bore me to tears. Perhaps Marissa is next to go but I expected her gone weeks ago. If Cristian’s arm doesn’t heal, I suspect the heartless American voters will soon be rid of him too. They certainly seem eager to shoot the horses.

Though my girl is gone, I’ll probably see this thing through. I still like watching Cristian and I’m pretty sure the worthy Guch is going to take it. But I won’t be back next season. It’s too depressing to learn how America ranks personalities.


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