The Usual Suspects: The Typecasting of DWTS, Part I

Each season, as the announcement of the next cast draws nearer, our imaginations run wild with thoughts (and dreams!) of who this season’s celebs might be.  While the possibilities are truly endless, we can still hypothesize based on the casting of previous seasons – we know there will be at least one athlete, an actor/actress of some sort, perhaps a model, maybe a singer or two.  The producers really do seem to aim for a mixed bag of celebs each season, to make it interesting – but how do they measure up? I have broken it down into the 12 major recurring “usual suspects” that comprise the cast – let’s examine previous examples, possible advantages/disadvantages, and possible candidates for each.  The first six, for your consideration & discussion:

 The Olympian

Previous examples: Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, Apolo Ohno, Natalie Coughlin, Misty May-Treanor, Maurice Greene, Louie Vito

Advantages: The winningest of the 12 types, their obvious advantage is their athleticism – you won’t see these guys struggling with strength or endurance moves.  In addition, the same tireless work ethic that helped them medal in the Olympics will likely carry them through the toils of the competition.

Disadvantages: For those specializing in sports that are less “artistic” (i.e. swimming, running, volleyball), it might be a bit hard to really get into the character of the dance and truly perform to the crowd.  Previously incurred injuries (or the fear of incurring an injury that might hinder their participation in subsequent competitions in their sport, a la Misty May-Treanor) may also slow them down & limit their mobility.

Possible candidates this season: I’ve heard the names of several male figure skaters thrown around – namely Johnny Weir & Evan Lysacek – but I find it hard to believe they’d be able to throw themselves headlong into dancing after the grueling pressures of the winter games.  Other names whispered: Michael Phelps (seems like a possibility), & Greg Louganis (has expressed interest in doing the show). 

The Athlete

Previous examples: Chuck Liddell, Warren Sapp, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Helio Castroneves, Laila Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Ty Murray, Evander Holyfield, Jerry Rice, Clyde Drexler, Monica Seles, Jason Taylor, Lawrence Taylor

Advantages: As with the Olympians, their athleticism & work ethic make them well-suited to the competition.  An edge they might have over their Olympic counterparts: sports like football, auto racing, & mixed martial arts tend to have a larger, more mainstream following than some of the Olympic sports.

Disadvantages: Again, a lack of “artistic” experience & previous injury (especially with the football players, who have really taken a beating over the years). Some of the more muscular athletes in hard-hitting sports may also have difficulty with the refined, precise moves of some of the dances.

Possible candidates this season: Rumor has it that San Diego Chargers player Kassim Osgood may already be partnered with Cheryl Burke this season, and fans of notorious NFL showboater Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals have been tweeting up a storm about his possible participation.

The Model/Playmate/Beauty Queen

Previous examples: Kelly Monaco, Rachel Hunter, Tia Carrere, Shanna Moakler, Paulina Porizkova, Shandi Finnessey, Josie Maran, Albert Reed, Shannon Elizabeth, Brooke Burke, Holly Madison, Kathy Ireland, Joanna Krupa

Advantages: All the costumes seem to look fantastic on them (and they can get away with wearing the really skimpy ones) and so do their pro partners – easy to imagine a “showmance”, which always seems to grab votes.  Also seems to have cornered the votes of the small population of male viewers, for obvious reasons 😉

Disadvantages: Despite making a career out of looking great posing & strutting down the runway, many of them have proven to be rather awkward movers outside of that context, and some seem to have a hard time carrying around their taller than average stature.  They also run the risk of “pretty girl backlash” – the female viewers may turn on them due to jealousy or perceived arrogance, or just never vote for them in the first place, instead giving their votes to the attractive male participants.

Possible candidates this season: Pam Anderson, whose name has been coming up more & more often as the announcement of the cast draws closer.

The Legend

Previous examples: Cloris Leachman, Wayne Newton, Donny Osmond, Tatum O’Neal, Marie Osmond, Jane Seymour, Marlee Matlin, Susan Lucci

Advantages: These individuals are extremely well-known & respected in the entertainment business, with many years of experience (and fans) under their belts, as well as an award or two. Also masters of the stage & screen – perhaps the best at emulating the emotions of the dances.

Disadvantages: With many years of experience comes an older age than many of their competitors – which comes with an increased risk of injury & fatigue that could limit the difficulty of their routines.

Possible candidates this season: Highly doubtful, due to her extensive dance background, but Paula Abdul has been a name that has popped up season after season (often from Paula herself) as a possible participant.

The Soap Star

Previous examples: Kelly Monaco, Cameron Mathison, Lisa Rinna, Susan Lucci

Advantages: The demographic of soap opera viewers overlaps heavily with the demographic of viewers of DWTS, and most soap opera viewers have been watching those shows for years (I started watching General Hospital when I was 6!), so they often have a fierce loyalty to their favorite characters (and the actors/actresses who portray them).

Disadvantages: This group likely has the most grueling schedule to contend with, as most soaps tape year-round, and many of them are taped in New York, forcing the stars (and sometimes their partners) to fly coast-to-coast several times a week to practice.  Many also have absolutely no background in any kind of sport, making them a real “project” for the pros to take on.

Possible candidates this season: None that I’ve heard of, but I’d love to see General Hospital veteran Maurice Benard or long-time Days of Our Lives actress Deidre Hall coming down those glittery stairs.

The Comedian

Previous examples: Penn Jillette, Jeff Ross, Adam Carolla, David Allen Grier, Ashley Hamilton (though this is debatable)

Advantages: Let’s face it, they’re fun to watch, and they definitely inject some much- needed hilarity into the show. 

Disadvantages: They often come across like they don’t take the competition seriously, instead favoring their usual schtick over actual dancing. Some of their on-show humor (Jeff Ross’ in particular) can also be rather polarzing – hilarious to some, offensive to others. And again – often no background in any sort of sport, let alone dancing.

Possible candidates this season: Again, no murmurings yet – but several but several of us here at Pure DWTS have a soft spot for Jimmy Fallon (wishful thinking, we know J ) I personally wouldn’t mind seeing a female comedian on the show – Kathy Griffin could be fun (if she wasn’t so wrapped up in the cesspool of a show that is The Insider), and if Monique doesn’t have anything on her plate in the next few months (again, wishful thinking), she could be another interesting contestant.

What do you guys think? Anyone you’re just dying to see on the show that fit into these groups?  Tune in tomorrow when I analyze  the Teen Idol, Singer, Reality Star, Actor, Host, & Wildcard groups…how will they measure up? 🙂