Dancing with the Stars Season 24, Week 5 – Manipulation Mayhem

Yes, I’m very late getting this done, but that’s what happens when you have a busy real life. 🙂

Anyway, as we discussed last week, there are many ways to manipulate this show and we’ve seen most all of them over the course of many seasons – mostly since Season 15 or so.  These tactics include (but are not limited to):

  • Packages (length, tone, fake shipping, fake or overblown fights, etc.)
  • The Erin Interview (the questions the producers feed her to put people on the spot)
  • Screen time (or lack thereof)
  • Dance/music assignments
  • Press

So, I understand that Val and Normani were on Access Hollywood Live for the SECOND time this past week – pretty rare. Especially considering that some couples haven’t been on at all. I recall many seasons being pissed that Derek and his partner were getting little press (Nastia, Marilu, etc) or little to no All Access time (Marilu) – Val has never had this problem, but they are on a quest to make him happen to this day.  Thing is – DWTS PR is the one who sets up all those show appearances and it’s a very simple way to give one couple a leg up over the others.  You all tell me, since I haven’t been paying attention, but which couples have been on Ellen, AH Live, E! and all the others. More importantly, who HASN’T been on any or many of those shows, eh?

Dance/music assignments – tell me honestly (hard for some of you Harmonizers, I understand) but do you REALLY think that Lindsay would CHOOSE to do a dance style that doesn’t go with the music?? Do you think Emma would voluntarily struggle with a music/dance combo instead of just picking music to go with her assigned style? Louis V seems to think that these women are that dumb and that it is their fault for having the wrong music for an assigned style. He was still blathering about it this past week. I think they are not the ones who are acting dumb in this instance. It’s been quite a few seasons now that the pros have several weeks of every season where they are given the song and dance style…and the two don’t always go together. It’s ridiculous to think that they would struggle intentionally instead of just picking the right music/style. They all know how to count, after all.  I do find it interesting that the two hot guys who are likely getting the lion’s share of votes are the ones who seem to be having this issue.  Again, I ask you – if there are others, tell me in the comments.  I may have to start tallying this stuff. 🙂

We’ll cover the screen time again in a minute, but first – Erin. Do you think she is naturally obsessive about the “romance” angle that this show likes to take from time to time, or do you think the producers know that there are crazy shippers who obsess over it? Door number 2, monty. I think that a lot of the time it is more ratings driven than it is truly manipulative. Do you think they really wanted to help Noah Galloway stick around by featuring his proposal? Nah, they just love that shit (see Emma/Sasha, which I also loved because it was genuine). Conversely, the whole brouhaha over Nick and his pregnant wife was just over the top and I think he was likely 3rd place if not for that. But really, the only time the shipper shit annoys is when it’s so obviously fake – as in Meryl/Maks. And the massive attempts to start something with Alek/Emma. That’s annoying. Also kinda disgusting is the stealth cam they used on Kym and Robert. But I digress – fake shipping can be used by the couple with producer help to assist someone to the win like Meryl/Maks, but the whole Erin interview can be used to help someone (pity parties about traveling, etc) or hurt someone by denying them the screen time (Simone).

Packages are, IMO, the single most harmful thing they can do to a couple. They did a rather significant character assassination on Derek last season – do you really believe that a guy that has been hailed as the nicest guy on the show for many seasons now suddenly changes into the guy that we saw in packages last season? Not hardly.  Motive? That should be obvious. Yes, Derek had Marilu who was 64 at the time, but she was in fantastic shape and she could definitely move, although she had issues performing on the live show.  Even with all of their manipulative packages (she also was rarely on All Access, got little media and rarely did Erin interviews) he took her farther than anyone else would have – oldest woman ever to make quarter finals, I believe I read – not too shabby. When Derek talks about his packages in his blogs, you know it’s bad, because that dude is the most PC guy on the show. At the same time, Val was getting an edit that consistently portrayed him as a saint – not long after he got sued for fat shaming a young girl on Instagram. Same thing happened with Nastia – she was very upset by the edit she got because it played into a perception of her that she had been fighting her whole life.  That’s bad for Nastia AND Derek not just in terms of the show, but in terms of it’s real world impact. I saw way too many comments about how Derek was “mean” to Marilu – yet Marilu never had anything but positive comments about Derek. This season, who are they doing it to? Simone, mainly. But question is why? Why do they care if Simone wins? I don’t really buy the argument that they don’t want a gymnast to win again – if they were worried about that they shouldn’t have invited her on the show.  Seeing as how Normani has been getting the PR and the screen time, not to mention lots of time with Erin, good running order, etc., it seems they are helping Val again. Why, I don’t get. Ah…but as you’ll see below, Normani isn’t the only one getting assistance.

Back to screen time, you remember from last week that Normani was out in front. This week, I had a lot more data, thanks to m, Lisa C and Nick.  I don’t have multiple times from each week but I do for several them. When I had more than one person’s data, I averaged them for each category and then ranked them based on that. I don’t have  a lot of time to go into extensive detail on each week, but I think what I will do is give you the rankings for each week and save the full blown analysis for the end of the season. As with much of this stuff, we can’t really see the whole picture until the season is over – and even then it’s mostly conjecture.  ALSO NOTE: There are quite a few flaws in the data that I have, which is to be expected when multiple people are doing the timing. As a result, and even without the flaws, this is NOT a scientific analysis but a general look at what people came up with. Even not being scientific, it is still instructive to a certain degree. I had to LOL at the troll claiming she wanted scientific analysis and evidence. You want that? Do it yourself…well, try, as it still won’t be scientific.  That said, going forward, a few notes on how to do the timing so that there are smaller differences in the data:

  • Leave the timer running when the judges are talking – that counts for the couple since they are the focus of the discussion.
  • Don’t count the time when the couples are getting to Erin and Tom is talking about something else. Start counting as soon as the camera is back on the couple.
  • Please count the pre-package or pre-commercial mugging time that couples get.

That’s all I can think of right now. 🙂

Anyway, the results of this were a tad shocking, even when not scientific. Here are the total times for each week and a grand total.

Is anyone truly shocked by Heather being in first place?? No, not me. They give her not great placement, but they make up for it with plenty of screen time, so I guess that’s a bit of balance…except when you add in the Julianne apology tour she gets every week.  But it’s not who is getting the camera time that is shocking (I don’t want to hear Nancy fans complaining about her being hosed, either), it’s who ISN’T getting much of anything from this show, and that is unquestionably Simone. It’s shocking to me that for three of the five weeks she’s gotten the least screen time, and when she didn’t have the least amount of screen time, she’s still be in the bottom three in screen time. She’s only gotten ONE interview with Erin, LESS THAN people who have already been eliminated.

Conversely, Heather has been in the TOP 3 three of the five weeks and had an above average time every week but one.

The table above is more of an accounting of various parameters and no matter how you look at it, there are a privileged few, one person getting totally hosed and everyone else is kind of in the middle. Looking at just one parameter doesn’t really do it, you have to add it all together.  Seems like Heather is way out in front and Simone is getting totally screwed.

BUT, the first five weeks are likely going to be different than the last five weeks for a few reasons. First, the producers are now seeing the trends in the voting and any other popularity metrics they might look at, so they know if previous pimping is working or if someone is failing. This will likely dictate how they treat the contestants going forward. Notice that David had below average times the first two week, but jumped into the top three in the last three weeks. I suspect we will see more of this as we go through the last five weeks of the season.

Of the people remaining, it seems that Heather, Normani, Nancy and Nick are faring the best, in that they more get Erin interviews most of the time, good PR, and they either usually have above average times OR they are never in the bottom three when it comes to time. All that said, at this point, there isn’t much instructive in these numbers unless you are Heather or Simone.

I don’t think than anyone can argue that Heather is being treated VERY well, while Simone is getting just totally hosed. Anyone? Anyone?  In any case, as we go forward through the season we will see if this changes. We’ll also see if the producers are successful in what appears to be an attempt to make Simone a “shocking elimination”.

Okay, that’s all I have time for this week – we will go into more depth once the season is over, and if my suppliers keep giving me times to work with we’ll discuss weekly. Feel free to point out any instances of manipulation that you think you saw that I didn’t discuss here. I need all the help I can get – just don’t assume I will always agree. 😉