DWTS Season 11 – The Myth of Bristol

Okay, I threatened to do this a while ago and now I’m doing it. I’m putting my fingers to the key board to answer the question – how did Bristol last as long as she did? Was it really a Tea Party, or just dumb luck and silly judges?

This post isn’t really even about Bristol herself – it’s about the judges scores versus the voting. People always claim that the judges scores mean nothing. Well, bull, they’re worth 50% – it’s the judges who decide whether they mean very little or if they mean A LOT. The way the judges scored most of this season, they were irrelevant. When push came to shove, in the finale, they got their act together. I argue that it should happen sooner – like Week 7 or so.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get back to business with a recap:

Week 1 – The Departure of The Hoff

I consider this the first, and one of the bigger, shocks of the season.  But maybe German’s didn’t realize they can indeed vote on DWTS, if they are properly educated on how to do so. :-) Anyway, the bottom scorers this week were:

- The Hoff, 15
- The Sitch, 15
- Margaret, 15
- Michael, 16
- Florence, 18
- Bristol, 18

So, that one really shouldn’t have been a shock, as he was one of the low scorers.  No surprise that Bristol stayed, much surprise that Margaret stayed. :-)  Bristol had a whole lot of people with lower scores (and less infamy) than her.

Week 2 – Dog Houses are very, very bad.

Michael Bolton and Chelsie Hightower exit the competition after a thorough humiliation. One that was hard to watch indeed.  The bottom scorers were:

- Michael, 12
- Margaret, 18
- The Situation, 18
- Florence, 19

See, the judges were already giving Bristol 22 at this point for dancing that wasn’t that good. You expect me to believe that Bristol was only 2 points behind Jennifer Grey, who did a seriously kick ass jive?? Sorry, but nope.  In any case, Bristol was never in any danger thanks to overscoring AND people who were worse than her. Anyway, Michael was no great shock really, now that I think about it.  A 12 is very hard to overcome when the next lowest was an 18.  He had to get 27,000 more votes per million votes cast in order to stick around.

Week 3 – Rainbows are bad too??

Nah, not really. Louis was saying on Twitter that Margaret going the gay pride route was what did her in, but what I really think happened was that after that first dance no one took her seriously. She lasted as long as she did because The Hoff and The Bolton were so much worse.  I don’t think gay pride had anything to do with it – but maybe I’m naïve.   The bottom scorers were:

- Margaret, 18
- Bristol, 19
- Florence, 20
- The Sitch, 20

Now we see Bristol hit the bottom 2 in scores – but Margaret is the low scorer, here. No great stretch. Marge needed 4,500 votes to catch Bristol (chump change) and there is no way that was happening. No shocks here.

Week 4 – Here’s the Situation as I see it

Poor Situation, and by extension, poor Courtney. :-) He did well making it to the fourth week though, I have to say. The bottom scorers this week were:

- Situation, 28
- Bristol, 32
- Florence, 34
- Kurt, 35

Again, we see Bristol insulated by a 4 point cushion – not a huge number, but she’s not the low scorer and Sitch was a worse dancer. For the Situation to stay, he had to get 11,200 more votes than Bristol per 1 million votes cast.  Say thank you to your judges, because they are charting the course of Season 11 history here.  That 4 points isn’t huge – but it still counts.  No great shock that Bristol stuck around when put up against a relative unknown (to DWTS audience) guy who is 4 points behind her. And him being the worse dancer helped. :-)

Week 5 – Serious Monkey Business

This is the week where the wheels fell off, IMO.  I dare say that Michael Bolton was more than a little irate to see Bristol wear a Monkey suit and still get an 18.  I dare say that any pro who’s gotten scolded pretty harshly from Len for use of a prop (Maks, Derek, Dmitry…) was more than a little irate at the end of this night as well.  Remember when Nicole and Derek did a FANTASTIC quickstep that broke a ton of rules? Len gave them a 6. Then Len turns around this season and gives Bristol a 6 after forgetting most of her steps and wearing a Monkey suit. And you still wanna know why Bristol is still around at this point? :-) Hint: it ain’t the Tea Party – unless of course Len whipped out his silver tea set on the commercial break. :-) Check out this weeks scores:

- Bristol, 18
- Kyle, 20
- Florence, 21
- Audrina, 23

Kyle the Popular is only TWO points ahead of a girl who danced in a monkey suit. TWO.  And Audrina, who dances better on her worst day than Bristol does on her best, is only 5 points ahead of girl in monkey suit.  Florence is only three points ahead of Bristol – and three points ain’t nothing particularly when 8 or 7 people are getting votes. The voting is spread out over more people than it is in later weeks. Florence ultimately goes home, which means that:

Kyle got 5,500 more votes per million votes cast than she did, AND;

Bristol got 16,500 more votes per million votes cast than she did.

That may seem like a lot for Bristol to achieve, but in reality it is only 1.65 percent – a tiny number. Here’s another way to look at it: this was the week where you got 8 votes per phone and 8 votes per email address. So say the average person uses one phone and one email – that means only about 1,000 more people needed to vote for Bristol than they did for Florence. Of course not everyone who watches votes…but everyone who votes doesn’t use ONLY two accounts. We’re dealing in what could be very small numbers, here.

Week 6 – The Real Shocker

Okay, THIS was a shocking elimination – but after you really think about it for a bit, you realize maybe not.   Audrina is in the top two for judge’s scores and goes home. Because of Bristol? Hardly. There was a lot more at play here.  These were the scores for the week:

- Kurt, 22
- Bristol, 28
- Jennifer, 29
- Rick and Kyle, 30
- Audrina, 32
- Brandy, 36

There are FIVE people with lower scores than Audrina going into the audience vote. Five. The spread between the low scorer and Audrina is TEN points. Now that is a nice big number.  But is it shocking that Bristol stayed and Audrina when home? No – there is only 4 points between them, while Kurt is 10 points behind her.  When the second highest scorer goes home when there are 7 dancers?? It means that person wasn’t getting votes, period, not that Kurt and Bristol had huge fanbases. It wasn’t just Bristol that beat her, after all.  Kurt had to get nearly 5% more of the vote than her, or 48,500 more votes per million votes cast. Bristol only needed 1.93% – her highest margin of the season up until the finale. And of course, Jennifer, Rick and Kyle all had to make up a difference as well.

Audrina suffered from the model curse, IMO. Very beautiful but relatively unknown to the DWTS voters. Combine that with being paired with Tony and having a high score that week and you can kiss her goodbye. People continue to assume that if a dancer has a high score they are safe. Several of us on this blog had expressed concern about her longevity for these reasons. Put Audrina up against the movie icon, the fun Disney kid, the daughter of an infamous political figure, and two well liked (and well known) athletes? Then pair her with Tony instead of Derek and her odds get worse. Nothing against Tony, but, like it or not, Derek can make a model stick around longer – Joanna Krupa was far more unpopular than Audrina was popular.  With all these conditions, Audrina was never destined to go higher.

Week 7 – The Athletes Split the Votes

That’s one of my theories anyway. People who are inclined to go the athlete route had two to choose from.  Still think it’s Bristol’s fault? Nah.  This is only the second time that Bristol has been the low scorer and it isn’t by that much:

- Bristol, 57
- Kyle, 59
- Rick/Kurt, 61
- Jennifer/Brandy, 64

There is a significant problem here. First, when you hand out that many points in a week (366) and still keep the margin at 7 points between the top and bottom you actually decrease the percentage the low scorer needs to stick around. If they did the typical 30 point possible and had a spread between the top scorer and the bottom scorer of 7 points, the bottom scorer would need more than 5% to beat the top scorer. In this week, with a total points awarded of 366, there was ONLY a spread of 1.91% between Bristol and Brandy/Jennifer.  When you are talking less than a percent between the bottom FOUR scorers, of course it’s going to be anyone’s game.  Did Rick’s fans assume he was safe because of that four point cushion? Who knows? Were Kyle and Bristol fans really, really worried?? Probably. If those two sets of fans are worried, how hard do they really have to work? Kyle’s fans had to get 0.55% more and Bristol’s fans had to get 1.01% more.  Piece. Of. Cake. Odds are always good that the low scorers fans are going to vote like maniacs and it doesn’t take many maniacs to make up 1.01%.

Week 8 – Well, I think it was Close.

Seriously, Kurt versus Bristol with Bristol being the low scorer – but only by a point. We know what a point really means at this point, don’t we? Nothing. In this case, it was obviously going to be one of the two of them and I wager it was very close. Of course, I base that on what happened in the finale, so of course hind sight is 20-20.  Here were the scores for Week 8:

- Bristol, 47
- Kurt, 48
- Kyle, 57
- Brandy/Jennifer, 58

Much better point spread this week between the top and the bottom – but still that 10 points only means that Bristol is 3.77 percent behind Brandy/Jennifer.  That’s a small number and it’s again the result of a higher number of points awarded.  So, if there is only 3.77 % between the top and bottom, it’s not hard to believe that there is only 0.38% between Bristol and Kurt – that’s no spread at all. I will say it again – Bristol didn’t need a miracle to stay over Kurt. Not at all. She only needed a couple dozen more fans than Kurt who were passionate about her staying. Maybe not even that many if they were power voting.

Week 9 – Tragedy

Well, I think it was a tragedy, anyway. Even though my favorite won, I would have liked to see a real competition. Brandy/Kyle/Jennifer would have been great.  But the question is – did Bristol play spoiler? Hmmm…Maybe for the first time.  But how much of it was Bristol and how much of it was Brandy herself? How much of it was the judges?? Again, the judges had a great deal of influence – look at the scores:

- Bristol, 53
- Brandy, 57
- Kyle, 58
- Jennifer, 60

Bristol only 4 points behind Brandy? Seriously?? People keep saying the judges scores mean nothing, but I think they’ve got it backwards – the judges scores mean everything, just  not in a good way. By scoring Bristol relative only to herself, THEY give her more potential to stick around longer.  Now, I understand doing that early on – but this was the 9th week and it was time to turn into a hard ass and they all FAILED.  Sometimes I think the judges think they are being tough, like above, giving Bristol a 53. Problem is, they don’t really get how the scoring and the audience vote works out either – or it doesn’t appear so, anyway. Because that 4 points equals 1.75%. How many time have I said how little 4 points amounts to? It’s a pittance. When you have Kyle being a likeable teddy bear, Jennifer Grey being JENNIFER GREY and Bristol getting all the buzz (plus the Vote for the Worst crew), Brandy is going to need more than that 4 points – she wasn’t getting any attention that week. No attention = kiss of death.

Week 10 – The Finale Tells the Tale.

And Bristol takes 3rd. And in doing so we learn the limits of her voting fanbase.   The final scores were:

- Bristol, 104
- Kyle, 110
- Jennifer, 118

Again, because so many points were awarded, the spread between them goes down even though the points difference seems greater.  That six points between Kyle and Bristol only equates to 2.75%, which is not that much greater than the spread between her and Brandy. But it is clearly enough to knock Bristol out of the game. I think there were a few things at work here – the judges finally started scoring them relative to each other, or seriously ranking them. When they do that, it makes an impact. But that wasn’t all – people finally figured out that if they didn’t want Bristol to win, they had to vote like hell for someone else. The highest number of votes in the history of the show isn’t going to benefit Bristol, as much as the Tea Party would like to think otherwise – hey, DWTS mirrors real life!! ;-)

At the end of the day, Bristol was eliminated because she couldn’t get past the 2.75% between her and Kyle. That was the largest spread she ever had to overcome over the entire 10 weeks of the competition.   Here’s a summation of where Bristol was each week – if she was the low scorer, I put the margin she had to overcome.

-          Week 1 – Not in the bottom 4

-          Week 2 – Not in the bottom 5

-          Week 3 – Margaret was low scorer, Margaret went home

-          Week 4 – Sitch was low scorer, Sitch went home

-          Week 5 – 1.65%

-          Week 6 – Kurt was low score by 6 points, Audrina went home

-          Week 7 – 1.01%

-          Week 8 – 0.38%

-          Week 9 – 1.75%

-          Week 10 – 2.75% – Bristol is eliminated first.

Now, do you still think that it’s surprising that Bristol lasted as long as she did?? I would hope not. I would also hope that people realize they have to vote for their favorite because the judges don’t put in enough of a spread between the dancers to amount to anything.

The moral of the story is – the judges scores mean everything, when they actually rank the contestants. ;-) But if they don’t?? You best vote.