Every season, readers get very confused by the concepts of “bottom two” versus “jeopardy”. If you don’t listen carefully to what Tom and Brooke (now Erin) say, it’s easy to get confused. If a couple is in the bottom two, it means that they, along with the eliminated couple, had the lowest combined score. The combined score is determined by viewer votes and judges scores. The formula is relatively simple: they take a couple’s score and divide it by the total points handed out on a given night to get their share of the judges scores. They do the same with the viewer votes; they divide a couple’s number of votes by the total number of votes cast and come up with their share of the votes. They then add the two numbers together; the couple with the lowest combined total is then sent home. You can see many examples of this in my series of posts called “Dancing by the Numbers”.
When the show is airing, there are two ways of getting to an elimination, by putting three couples in jeopardy (oh, the drama) and then saving one, and then one of the remaining two goes home. And then there is the straight up identification of the “bottom two” couples. Tom will say “the bottom two” if this is the case. If neither Tom nor Brooke (now Erin) says “these are the bottom two” then we don’t actually know if the two people standing at the end are really the low combined score getters. There are multiple reasons why they like do this. The main reason, of course, is DRAMA. How they love their drama. They like to make the show exciting and if the low scorer was immediately sent home every week, what fun would that be? This past week, you’ll note that Tom and Erin made it clear that Cody and Witney were “not necessarily” the bottom two.
The question that is asked every season is: does “jeopardy” (aka, being the last couple called safe) have any real meaning for the couples put there?? The answer is yes, of course. The problem is determining what that meaning is at the time. That is very difficult to do, although we’ve gotten pretty good at figuring it out every season. You always have to remember a few key things:
- The producers want to keep the show exciting, and jeopardy is a part of that;
- The producers often have a reason why they want to keep a particular couple around longer and motivating fan bases to vote harder can be accomplished by “jeopardy” if they think the votes are too low;
- Drama, drama, drama!! How exciting is it when the high scorer of the night is standing next to the low scorer of the night and you don’t know who’s going to survive – and the producers fool you into thinking that the low person is for sure going home…and then they don’t?
Yeah, I don’t think it’s really that exciting at this point in the show’s history, but I’ve long said that the producers have lost touch with their audience.
Now, since I’m the biggest nerd of a blogger on this site, I wondered if there was any kind of pattern to the “jeopardy” and the subsequent eliminations. So I made tables of seasons 11 through 17 to try and figure it out. Hindsight is 20/20 – but it can inform how you watch the show going forward. The answer, as you may have guessed, is that yes there is something of a pattern. Sometimes. And it’s an easy one to see when you’re looking back – but still impossible to be sure of when you’re watching the show in real time. That is unlikely to change. Read more..