PureDWTS Season 27, Week 4 – Power Rankings

Oof. For the first time in a looooong time, I am speechless at the results. We lost an extremely talented dancer paired with probably the most promising male pro we’ve had in quite awhile, and for what? To keep some slouch that doesn’t even appear to be trying anymore, just because a niche fanbase has a hard-on for this guy??? There’s more to unpack here than just the fact that folks (inexplicably) seem to love Joe, but that’s probably the most outwardly frustrating part. I think back to Bill Engvall’s season, when so many seemed to complain about him sticking around while better dancers got sent packing.  But at the very least with Bill, I always got the impression that he wanted to be there, he was doing his best, and Emma was putting in 110% each and every week to help him improve.  Wish I could say the same for Joe, but judging from the appallingly bad trio he gave us this week (which he just seemed to laugh about and shrug off), I don’t really think he cares whether he stays or goes.  I think Jenna was praying they got sent packing this week, judging from how mortified she appeared to be when they got called safe. Bachelor Nation, if you’re reading this (and you probably are) – put them out of their misery.  STOP VOTING FOR THEM. This show is already struggling, without your nonsense.

As for other extenuating circumstances that may have lead to Tinashe’s elimination – once again, the “DWTS viewers hate female ringers” argument has popped up again. I still have a hard time believing that one 100%, given that female ringers have gone on to win this show (and make the finals); I absolutely believe that some viewers think that way, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily the majority of voters. However, Heidi did point out that with viewership down, voting might also be down – which gives more power to those that do vote, since the totals are much smaller, and makes the prospect of a “shocking” elim much more likely. I can’t help but draw parallels between voting on DWTS vs. voting in the midterm elections next month – currently, it’s a relatively small but determined demographic dominating the polls (white Baby Boomers); however, if the disenfranchised demographic that isn’t getting to the polls (Millennials & minorities) would make a big push to actually get out and vote, we could upend norms that have persisted for decades. I cannot emphasize the importance of voting – whether its on DWTS or in the midterm elections. I’m hearing a lot of “Tinashe got Sabrina’d!”, but I would actually go with “Tinashe got Hillary’d” – some voters fixated on a fabricated, non-existent problem as justification for not voting for her.  Tinashe’s “emails” were the imaginary “attitude problem” some seemed to have with her – I never saw it, as she always struck me as very calm and just enjoying the ride. But was that same chill demeanor ultimately the problem…? I know I mentioned in my week 2 power rankings that I thought Nancy may be in trouble because she was simply so laid-back that at the end of the night, it was hard to remember her dances.  Did Tinashe suffer the same fate? When you’ve got Bones bouncing around like a lawn dart, Joe being memorably terrible, John being unexpectedly genuine and down-to-earth, Milo dancing surprisingly well and being sheepishly charming, DeMarcus just being an incredibly hard worker, and Alexis showing vulnerability about her past…do you really forget about an otherwise-great dancer that maybe just wasn’t as dramatic as the other celebs? Part of me also wonders if her “Most Memorable Year” dance may have also just not struck as much of a chord with viewers as Alexis’, Bobby’s, DeMarcus’, & John’s did – we’ve often said that if you don’t go the weepy route during MMY week, you run the risk of getting lost in the shuffle, regardless of how well you actually dance. Is it more of a memorability problem than anything else? Or can a season only sustain x number of ringers? We had said over and over that this season probably couldn’t handle both Alexis AND Tinashe for long – I guess I just always assumed that Alexis would be more likely to go first; but who knows, maybe the dance about her mom earned her some votes. I could go on and on about potential contributing factors – but at the end of the day, it comes down to votes: she wasn’t getting them. So if you don’t want to see that happen again, you’ve gotta phone it in and interweb it in – the votes matter.

One factor I don’t blame in any of this: Brandon. He was the one male pro that I was really betting it all on to lead the guys out of this post-Ballas/Hough talent drought.  That tango had serious shades of Derek in it – and Brandon probably got dealt the toughest hand this week: a dance that’s already tough to do as a trio (tango) with a celeb that has some limitations to consider (Amy).  And I think he knocked it out of the park – which is pretty admirable for his first outing as a pro, considering it seems to take the male pros in particular a season or two before they hit a stride (and even then, some of them still don’t quite get it – looking at YOU, Gleb). Producers, he better have a spot for the foreseeable future – ’cause I think he’s gonna pay the dividends in a big way.

So some of you seemed rather perplexed about some of the trios we ended up with – admittedly, I did too. I saw speculation that there was an agenda at play – while I don’t really have any solid tea here, I don’t really think that there was much of an agenda…except maybe for including Maddie, which when taken into account with the fact that her sister is a contestant on Juniors, seems to indicate an attempt to insinuate one or both of the Ziegler girls into DWTS in some capacity. To what end? I’m not sure – part of me wonders if they’re trying to angle to get Maddie employed by DWTS in some capacity (pro? troupe? JUDGE?!) in the future; part of me thinks this could have been part of a quid pro quo for Kenzie doing Juniors (“If you make Kenzie a contestant and give her exposure for her music, I’ll avail myself to you guys in some capacity!”) Kenzie on Juniors just seems very, very strategic – more beneficial for her than for the show itself, I think. But I digress – the rest of the trios just seem like a hodgepodge of former contestants that they managed to convince to come back, with gaps filled in by other randos where appropriate. Shad, Joey, and Melissa seem to avail themselves to the show whenever they’re needed (all-stars, tours, guest judging, hosting, celebrity space filler in the audience, etc.); Nastia, Riker, and Lindsey seem like fan faves they were just fortunate enough to convince to help out for a week.  As for Scarlett and Jordan – the latter just seems like catnip for the Bachelor nation; as for Scarlett, a little bird insinuated to me that she may have been a backup for a former DWTS celeb that had to back out for whatever reason (my knee jerk guess was Jodie – probably the only one of Keo’s former partners worth inviting back, but also a potential conflict of interest, given that her costar is currently a contestant on DWTS). Honestly, I think the decision-making process for who got who in trios probably went something like this: “Ok, who can we convince to come back? Remember, we’ve got Maddie – Maddie needs to fit in one of these trios. So Shad, Melissa, Joey, Riker, Nastia, Lindsey, and Amy all said yes? Ok, now who can we plausibly pair them up with? And what should we do about the remaining two couples that need trio members? Bah, just tell them to invite a friend. What’s the worst that could happen???” Well, I think only one trio truly benefited from having their third person (Milo/Witney/Riker), while the rest were either neutral (Juan Pablo/Cheryl/Melissa, Bobby/Sharna/Lindsey) or were somewhat disadvantaged (pretty much everyone else). Honestly, I think the trios were just the result of the usual flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-planning we’ve come to expect from DWTS 😛

1.) Milo & Witney (plus Riker) – If anyone aced the trio round, I think it was this team 🙂 This was the perfect combination of dance style, choreo, song, and two trio partners whose style of movement compliment each other very well.  I was impressed by how FAST this one was, and how much content Witney managed to cram into it – and both boys were handling it without breaking much of a sweat.  Loved the lift where one of them threw Witney backwards over his head, and the other one caught her. Zero complaints here – the technique, the choreo, the performance quality…all there 🙂 So with that out of the way, I’m gonna address two things about this trio that people have brought up on Twitter.  One: did Witney copy Jordan/Lindsay/Corbin’s trio? And to this I say “So, do y’all just not have anything better to do? Or do you just hate Witney?” I swear, some of this fandom has a real problem giving credit where it’s due when it comes to the female pros – seems like if any of them choreograph something great anymore, the naysayers come out in full force to either a) claim it was ghost choreo, or b) accuse the pro of “copying” someone else. Even more disturbing, it’s often the female fans that attack with the most zeal – which is a discussion for another time. At some point, some of y’all are going to have to come to terms with the fact that you just don’t like some of these ladies – ’cause it’s getting ridiculous. I even went and rewatched Jordan’s trio, and there was nothing glaring that jumped out at me as something Witney “copied” for Milo’s trio.  You do realize that all dances of the same style are going to look at least vaguely similar, right? They all do have basic steps and figures…it’s what Len complains about a lack of in some dances. And when it comes to a trio, it’s probably going to look even more similar, as having to create moves to incorporate three people is going to create even more limitations. NONE OF THE DANCES ARE GOING TO BE COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY NEW AND DIFFERENT. Please get that through your head before claiming “COPIED!!!” I could go on and on about how completely BORING I find the topic of “copied choreo”.  I’mma start calling anyone that tries to start a debate about it “Serge”, after the Patron Saint of Copied Choreo Accusations(TM). Moving on…second thing: do I think Milo could win this season? To which I say “I don’t know.” Tinashe’s elim has kinda thrown this season into doubt for me, and about the only thing I still feel comfortable stating with confidence is that DeMarcus will make the finals, and will likely be one of the last two standing, just based on skill, effort, and demographics. Could Milo make the finals as well? I think it’s a strong possibility – a lot is going to depend on what, if any, shifts we see in voting as a result of Tinashe’s elim. I do think he’s going to have a hard time overcoming DeMarcus in votes, though, simply because DeMarcus’ fanbase aligned perfectly with that of the voting audience coming into the show.  Has Milo gained enough fans to push past it? We’ll see.

2.) DeMarcus & Lindsay (plus Rashad) – I think watching this trio brings to light two important considerations about trios: the dance you’re assigned, and the trio partner you’re assigned. Paso is kind of a hit-or-miss dance: it’s one that looks deceptively easy (because to the untrained eye, it just seems like a lot of stomping and marching), but can look overly simplistic and boring if you’re not getting the requisite shaping through the torso (which is actually quite difficult, and is the major selling point of a well-done paso). I think that was part of the problem here, along with the fact that Shad has actually continued to grow and improve as a dancer since his season, and was visibly quite a bit better than DeMarcus in this dance (which I credit to Shad’s ability to really shape through his torso). That’s not to say that DeMarcus was bad, though – I just didn’t see quite as much finesse from him in this dance as we usually do.  It certainly deserved better than the 22 it got, but given the judges’ penchant for underscoring De, I guess I’m not surprised (and I still think he’s getting tons of votes). I actually loved the staging of it, and Lindsay threw in some really good stuff (there was one move where she transitioned from De to Shad so seamlessly, it was hard to see where the transition even occurred). Was this his best dance? No. But was it terrible? Also no.  Nice effort, room for improvement – and De gets my “badass of the week” award for dislocating his finger, and then casually asking Rashad to pop it back into place for him 😛

3.) Evanna & Keo (plus Scarlett) – Evanna continued her slow and steady improvement this week, as this salsa was the most at-ease I think I’ve seen her so far.  Then again, when you put her next to Scarlett, who looked pretty petrified most of the time, I think Evanna would have looked confident by comparison, regardless. But I will credit Keo for throwing in a TON of content, and including a lot of in-hold work.  He didn’t go easy on them, and his choreo is really continuing to improve. I think Scarlett was unfortunately a bit of a detriment to this trio, as she seemed to get a bit lost from time to time, and seemed to move small compared to Evanna and Keo; but if anything, I think it made Evanna look better by comparison, soooo…win? Win-ish? Not a whole lot else to add, other than that I think Evanna may be the best hope Keo has ever had of making it to the finale – and could possibly be the best chance a female celeb has of making the finale this season. I think Mary Lou is probably a goner once we get rid of some of the lower-hanging fruit from the guys, and I’m still not convinced Alexis is getting a ton of votes.  With her Harry Potter fanbase, I think Evanna may be a better bet than either of the two ladies left – so I threw some votes her way last night. Fingers crossed!

4.) Alexis & Alan (plus Maddie) – Alexis, you’re a gorgeous girl, with a gorgeous smile – but HONEY, this is one week where you should have locked it up and gone with some stank face.  I had more than one person tweet me about how out-of-place Alexis’ smile seemed in this dance – and I don’t think it helped that she had to dance with a hard-hitting, fierce Maddie, who was hitting pretty much every line visibly harder than Alexis…which just served to draw more attention to the fact that Alexis is still moving soft ‘n’ pretty, even in the tango. Although, oddly enough, you could have driven a boat show between Maddie and Alan, and it was actually glaringly obvious on the promenade runs down the floor that Maddie was way farther apart from Alan than Alexis was, which made the formation look somewhat lopsided. I was also thrown by the staging in this one – the lighting made it hard to see what was going on, and that rainbow thing at the beginning actually left me somewhat disoriented. Alan’s choreo was good – but compared to Brandon’s slightly more out-of-the-box approach to tango, it felt a tad garden-variety. I’ve seen several people commenting that Tinashe’s departure likely opened the door for Alexis to make the finale – and given what I said above about who I think has the juice and who doesn’t, I’m not sure I agree.  I think Tinashe’s departure may benefit Alexis in the short run, due to the fear of losing another good dancer; however, I don’t know that she’s connecting as well as Evanna, who seems a lot more relatable and is having a nice growth arc (and seems like a more demographically-compatible name). I’m also seeing a sort of grassroots “get Keo to the finale!” movement starting to emerge on Twitter, so who knows what kind of steam that’s picking up.  Will be interesting to see if voting behavior changes at all next week…

5.) Bobby & Sharna (plus Lindsey) – Well…looks like Bobby’s (sort of) back to going a bit rogue again. Which actually seems to appeal to folks more than he does being sappy and obedient, so go off, I guess.  Admittedly, this was cute and memorable – the MC Hammer theme was fun, and Bobby sold it well.  And to his credit, he didn’t miss any steps that I could see; granted, this was choreographically pretty simple, but I do appreciate that Sharna was able to strike a nice balance between cha-cha basics and fun, Hammer-esque choreo.  Lindsey was a nice compliment, and served as the perfect trio third wheel: didn’t outdance the celeb, but also didn’t drag down the routine as a whole.  So where does that leave Bobby? I think he’s safe next week, and possibly a week or two after that, just based on the weaker links that are left – so he’ll make it to the back half of the season.  I think he falls short of the finale, though – I just don’t see any way he can compete with DeMarcus’ fanbase, Milo’s growing support, or Evanna’s improvement.

6.) Juan Pablo & Cheryl (plus Melissa) – I think a few trios may have gotten screwed over to some degree by song choice, and this is one of them – I just could not wrap my brain around that song, and the end result of trying to shoehorn cha-cha into it was pretty bland. Juan Pablo was still in “Latin lover” mode, and was pulling some ridiculous faces (including some weird almost-chewing thing with his mouth – like a rabbit about to eat a carrot), but the heat wasn’t there – and Cheryl and Melissa just seemed to be going through the motions, doing some vague and lukewarm hip-shaking.  There were a couple moments where it looked like someone either forgot choreo or missed a step, and left everyone doing something wishy-washy and awkward to conceal it.  Overall, a non-event – more a series of poses than actual cha-cha – and likely not helped by the fact that they went first on a night that was full of surprises.  Could JP be in danger? Perhaps. I think the wake-up call of Tinashe’s elim may rally the fans to vote harder to protect the remaining three ladies, which means we probably will (and probably should) start to lose some of the lower-hanging fruit from the guys.  Might mean JP, might not – you already know who I think SHOULD go (and should have gone a long time ago), but given that he seems to be a voting juggernaut, who knows what’s going to happen the next few weeks. But I don’t think JP is as safe as DeMarcus or Milo, and possibly even Bobby – so I have my doubts.  The next elim will be telling, for sure…

7.) Mary Lou & Sasha (plus Nastia) – Y’know, I have a hard time with Mary Lou, because while she isn’t necessarily doing anything glaringly WRONG in her dances –  I always feel like it’s never quite right, either. Her Charleston trio was cute, and she had good energy – but she still feels really clunky to me when she’s getting in and out of lifts and tricks in particular; and up against the long-legged Nastia, I felt like her moves were a bit clipped.  This was another instance where the third trio member felt like a bit of a liability – it was clear from the rehearsal footage that Nastia retained quite a bit of her Charleston skills from 3.5 years ago, while Mary Lou was struggling.  And just given their age difference (and the physical limitations that come with age), it was easy to see how much bigger Nastia was moving, and with much more ease than Mary Lou.  Was it a cute routine? Yes.  Good effort? Also yes.  But at the end of the night, it wasn’t one that stuck out strongly in my mind – especially when you compare it to Milo’s showstopper, Joe’s turd, DeMarcus’ crazy injury, Bobby being goofy, and John giving another unexpectedly good effort. Could she be in trouble? Maybe.  Her score did feel a tad inflated to me, as if they were trying to give her a safety net, and she was one of the unlucky bottom 5 in week 1. My gut says she’s probably got at least another week left in her, though, because I think the great Tinashe scare of 2018 may have boosted the remaining ladies’ votes for next week.  I’m about 75% sure we’ll be saying goodbye to a guy next week.

8.) John & Emma (plus Joey) – I apologize that I can’t remember who tweeted me this, but one of my followers last night summed up Emma’s skill set very aptly: she does SO MUCH WITH SO LITTLE. Hand Emma chicken sh*t, and she’ll turn it into chicken salad 🙂 On paper, this trio had the potential to be a hot mess – John’s probably the second weakest dancer left, and Joey is very, very out of practice and also beginning to get limited by age. Add to that a style that’s pretty physical (Argentine tango) with a song that maybe isn’t ideal for that style, and this could have been a disaster – but Emma managed to turn it into one of the most compelling trios of the night. She opted for a sort of “Clash of the Titans” theme, which allowed the guys to play off each other; she also kept the lifts pretty simple and to a minimum, since neither guy was really capable of the athletic acrobatics we saw DeMarcus doing last week. And she worked with the music, so they were performing key moves at certain accents in the choreo – I loved it. Also loved her costume, and loved that John may have actually out-danced Joey (who has been on All-Stars, the tour, and hosted the Vegas show…so no slouch there). Will they survive next week’s elim? I sure hope so – I worry that the same “hurr hurr, Joe is funny, I’mma vote for him” crowd may get their way, though, so I think John & Mary Lou are in the most immediate danger.  Guess we’ll see…

9.) Joe & Jenna (plus Jordan) – I can’t believe I even have to gratify this joke of a trio with a response.  So some of you were wildly entertained by it – cool, good for you, I’m happy you’re so easily entertained. Forgive me for having standards, and at the very least expecting effort from contestants – which I really didn’t see much of from Joe OR Jordan. Both of them seemed to act like it was just a blow-off dance that they weren’t being scored on – and it was predominantly off-time, out-of-sync, and involved far more effort from Jenna (and to a lesser degree, Narcissus Gleb & Val in the background) than either of the two men.  I honestly felt embarrassed for Jenna, because I know she’s capable of so much more – but I don’t get the impression that Joe or Jordan was particularly receptive to her tutelage, so she had to go with the lowest common denominator. You know what this reminded me of? The lame serenades the fraternities would make their pledges come do at the sorority houses.  Usually some lame Chippendales-esque moves (I graduated college 4 years BMM – “before Magic Mike“), complete with ripping tank tops, and some lackluster dry-humping. And here’s the thing that’s really puzzling to me: I’m told Joe is so popular with the Bachelor fandom because he’s a “such a nice guy” – which is one of my pet peeves when it comes to evaluating male behavior.  “Nice guy” should be considered the default – not some extra bonus. I’ve also been told he got eliminated from The Bachelorette because he made no effort to talk to the bachelorette, and when he & gf Kendall broke up on Bachelor in Paradise, it was because (surprise, surprise) he didn’t make any effort to show her how he felt.  Y’all…is the bar on the floor for male behavior??? This is what we’re glorifying now: a do-nothing average Joe (pun intended) that isn’t outwardly an asshole, but also isn’t all that inclined to make any effort whatsoever…? Oof…no wonder my dating experiences as of late have been WILDLY mediocre, if this is what passes for a good prospect anymore.  But once again, I’m digressing…I’m willing him to get eliminated on Monday.  Do I actually think it will happen? Probably not, but I’m putting my faith in the fact that people were maybe outraged enough by Tinashe’s elim that they tossed enough votes to other couples that Joe can’t possibly cover the spread.

So those are my thoughts – sorry guys, that was a lot to unpack 🙁 But I genuinely want to hear your thoughts: what do you think contributed to Tinashe’s elim? Do you think she & Brandon could have done anything different to improve their chances? What do you think of Joe’s continued presence? What are your thoughts on “copied choreography”? Any thoughts on the pros/cons of having trio members that are not former contestants? Let’s chat 🙂