The Emmys – DWTS versus SYTYCD

Derek Hough and Julianne Hough

In my opinion – there’s no “there” there. :-)  But before I get into that, let me show you what got my goat, just a little bit – from the LA Times, The Envelope:

So You Think You Can Dance” once again leads the Emmy nominations for choreography, leaving “Dancing with the Stars” as an Emmy wallflower.  The Fox summer smash about everyday folk vying for a chance to dance has won the Emmy for the last two years in a row, while the ABC hit that pairs celebrities with professional dancers has been an Emmy also-ran for three years running.

This year, “So You Think You Can Dance” earned four of the six slots. While Wade Robson – who won this race last year and in 2007 – is not among the “SYTYCD” crew nominated this year, his 2007 co-winner – Mia Michaels – did land a nod. Also contending are Dmitry Chaplin, Tyce Diorio, and the team of Tabitha D’umo and Napoleon D’umo.

Derek Hough and Julianne Hough are the only nominees for teaching celebrities how to kick up their heels on “Dancing With the Stars.” Tony Award winner Rob Ashford (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”) rounds out the roster, landing his first Emmy nod for choreographing the Oscars.

Ya know, I understand having your favorite of the nominees. I do – DWTS. For whatever reason, I just can’t get that excited about So You Think You an Dance. I watch it, and enjoy it – but I won’t cuss up a storm if I’m out and my TiVo fails. :-) What bugs just a little bit is when journalists make invalid comparisons to pump up their favorite and, IMO, misrepresent a situation. This shouldn’t surprise me at all, given the state of our media, but whatever.

First, the author says that on SYTYCD “everyday folk” are vying for a chance to dance. They may be unknown, but they aren’t “everyday” – saying they are “everyday folk” implies that everyone can dance like a Kapono, given half a chance. Um, NO. That’s like saying Adam Lambert is an everyday person. The people who compete on SYTYCD are great DANCERS by the time you get to the top 20 – heck, by the time you get to Vegas. On SYTYCD, choreographers are choreographing for extremely capable, albeit unknown, dancers. As a result, the choreography is more intricate, and generally more creative (because it CAN be) than what you typically see on DWTS. Granted, the dancers might be outside their area of specialty from time to time, but they have stamina, creativity, flexibility, rhythm….a whole host of qualities that are often absent in the celebrities from DWTS. Often with hilarious results. :-)

SYTYCD Top 10

The author does peg DWTS correctly – celebrities paired with professional dancers.  But the comparison between the shows is apples and oranges.  Accomplished dancers being choreographed by accomplished choreographers versus total novice celebrities (and often people with NO rhythm, coordination, stamina, you name it) being taught by professional dancers.  Granted, most of these dancers are amazing choreographers – but rarely can they choreograph as intricate and creative dance as what you might see on SYTYCD, for the simple reason that they are supposed to be in the business of making their novice partner look good. That means choreographing to their partners ability…or lack thereof.   For that reason, it’s a comparison that doesn’t work.  Just look at Derek and Julianne’s nomination – choreographed and danced by two professionals – that dance is one of the exceptions on that show, not the rule. SYTYCD has, on average ten dances per week (or more) danced by very good dancers, choreographed by first rate choreographers.  DWTS, on the other hand, has if we are very lucky one professionally choreographed AND performed dance per week. It’s a rare thing that a celebrity can dance the type of choreography seen on SYTYCD.  By the very numbers alone, SYTYCD should have more nominations.  More dances, more nominations.

The only remotely valid comparison – and it’s still a stretch – is total nominations.  Dancing with the Stars got more nominations than any other reality program, if I read it correctly.  I say this comparison is also a stretch because shows like the Amazing Race aren’t likely to have submissions in the Hair, Make-Up, Musical direction, etc categories (although Phil Keogan always looks lovely :-) ).  A show that is filmed in the middle of nowhere (Survivor) or globe trotting (TAR) isn’t going to be eligible in as many categories as sound stage shows (American Idol, SYTYCD, or DWTS). 

At the end of the day, I’m glad that they have the reality category even though the shows in the category are so varied compared to, say, the drama category.  I think DWTS, SYTYCD, Survivor, American Idol, and The Amazing Race are all first rate, entertaining shows.  I watch and enjoy all of them.  I just don’t care for the comparison of numbers within the category and the subsequent labeling of one show as “wallflower” or (as I’ve seen in other places) “the best”.  Apples and Oranges.