PureDWTS Season 27, Week 7 – Power Rankings

Welcome to season 27, where the decent dancers are in perpetual danger, and the more mediocre you are, the greater the likelihood you’ll stick around. Guys – this is not the dance show I fell in love with 13 years ago. This season is a strange, bastardized caricature of it – and that’s why this post has been hard to write.  It’s also been hard to try and make sense of the nonsense of this season in general, and I feel worthless when some of you come to me asking what to make of [insert nonsense here] or [insert wonky scoring here], and I’m not able to give you an intelligent explanation for it…because I don’t have one. It still tickles me that so many of you give a damn about what I write,  after all these years, and value my thoughts on this show. But this time around, I just don’t know what to tell you, other than “Yep, this season sucks.” I fear we’re possibly witnessing the death throes of DWTS – all good things must come to an end, I guess, and this show has paid the dividends for 13 years now, which is impressive and quite a bit longer than I thought it would be on the air. Just stinks that it’s going out in such an inauspicious way 🙁

It’s beyond me why reality competition shows even bother doing “country night” as a theme anymore – it only seems to appeal to a small subset of the audience, the music is often pretty cringe-y, and the attire is…questionable. Monday night’s show was no different – the opener was pretty sloppy, and even the guest singers seemed a bit bewildered and not quite sure what to do.  Additionally, I feel like the couples that got saddled dancing to songs performed live by the artists took a bit of a hit, as their choreography had to accommodate intermittent pans to the singer for their obligatory face time.  At the end of the night, I remembered very little, and cared even less about “country night”. Put it to bed, ABC.

As for who we lost this – John & DeMarcus were 2/3 of my favorite guys this season, and them getting taken out in one sweep was gutting. I would have GLADLY traded Joe, Bobby, Alexis, AND Juan Pablo if it meant keeping the two of them in the competition. I ended up enjoying John far more than I thought I would – he was actually a decent dancer, had great musicality, got along great with Emma, was excited to be there, had a nice journey, and was generally a likable, humble guy.  Unfortunately, I think the writing was on the wall where he was concerned – we saw it coming last week, and TPTB seemed to have decided his time was up. Then there’s DeMarcus – someone I thought for sure we’d see in the in the finale.  Not entirely sure what happened here – he was always one of the better male contestants, and was never a bad dancer in the same way that both Bobby & Joe are; he was also extremely likable and genuine, and vibed well with Lindsay.   Part of me thinks he just got lost in the shuffle between the general (but memorable) stink of Joe & Bobby, the three-ring circus of the Alanis/Alexan (have they decided on their ship name yet?) showmance, the gushing over Juan Pablo, and both Milo & Evanna having memorable journeys; part of the blame for that lies with the judges and their more middle-of-the-road scoring and critiques, which were usually unnecessarily tough on De. Then there’s also the small matter of his finger injury back in week 3 – as minor as it may have seemed in the grand scheme of things, it was as if the moment DeMarcus realized his finger was injured, sh*t got real.  I mentioned to someone on Twitter, but if you re-watch the video of it happening, there was a noticeable shift in his demeanor – he went from “Oh hell yeah!!!” to “Oh sh*t, this is bad!” in .3 seconds.  And part of me thinks he was never really able to shake it off totally – every dance from that moment on seemed a tad cautious and tentative. Who knows – regardless, I don’t think he or Lindsay deserved to go home, and on any other season, he probably would have had a free pass to the finale.  And the finale has suffered in quality with the lost off both John AND DeMarcus 🙁

1.) Evanna & Keo – I think this was a breakthrough week for Evanna – it was a very respectable rumba, with pretty good technique, good showmanship, and solid choreo from Keo; it also seemed to be a week where those of us voting for John and/or DeMarcus seemed to get serious about the finale – and I saw a lot of folks throwing votes Evanna’s way.  And here’s what I think the reasoning might be (and why I think she may actually come from behind to win this whole thing): of the remaining contestants, I feel like she’s the only one that has truly had a journey. Milo is great, and I have no beef with him – but he’s been pretty good from day 1; so has Juan Pablo. Neither Bobby nor Joe has really improved drastically, and Alexis…has plateaued, and I remember the ridiculousness of her showmance more than I do any of her dancing. Evanna is the only one left that I feel has showed improvement, and continues on an upward trajectory.  She’s peaking at the right time, and I really have to give Keo credit for being the one pro left who seems like he’s really taking the judges’ critiques to heart, and has taken the initiative to bone up on his choreo skills.  Massive growth from him this season – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to  see him win this season, simply because he’s put in the hours and the effort while some of the other male pros seem content to rest on their laurels (*cough*GLIB Gleb*cough*).  I just really have a tremendous amount of respect for the work they’re putting in – they haven’t always had it easy with the judges, and they’ve gotten low-balled quite a few times.  I’m hoping their score, the jeopardy scare, and shifting loyalties work out in their favor – they deserve to be in the finale.

2.) Milo & Witney – I think these two were unfortunately one of the ones that had to take a bit of an L due to having a less-exciting dance during country week – foxtrot isn’t as exciting when so many others are doing more upbeat, energetic dances. It was by no means a bad foxtrot – Milo handled it well, but I wouldn’t say it was his strongest or most memorable dance, and the height difference between he and Witney does become quite a bit more apparent when he’s dancing in-hold. I still think he may be the front-runner to win – where Evanna has had steady growth, Milo started out strong and has remained strong the whole time, which may have gained him more fans from week 1; however, given the prediction crap shoot this season has become, I honestly don’t know which is going to carry more weight: a charming guy who danced well from day 1, or a charming girl that improved week after week. We shall see…but at this point, I’m crossing my fingers that they’re the last two standing, because I think they’re the  only ones that truly deserve it.

3.) Juan Pablo & Cheryl – This was one dance where I thought Juan Pablo actually looked awkward – something about the way he was extending his legs seemed exaggerated, and not quite right.  He & Cheryl also seemed to struggle getting into and out of tricks/lifts – it had that same start/stop quality I had been complaining about in Mary Lou’s dancing. Not a whole lot else to add – this felt a bit too Broadway-y on a night that was supposed to be country, so in the end, I’m left just kinda going “meh” and I will probably have forgotten all about it by Monday night. Still don’t really feel like I know much about Juan-Note Pablo beyond the one-dimensional macho facade he shows us – him saying “I’m having the time of my life!” to Erin up in the skybox just sounded completely hollow and disingenuous. *shrug* It is what it is – of the remaining couples, he’s the one that probably most deserves a spot in the finale with Evanna & Milo, and I find him the least annoying of the four remaining contestants when you remove Milo & Evanna, but I still just DGAF about him.  Sorry not sorry.

4.) Joe & Jenna – Should I even bother to keep critiquing these two…? Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be much to discuss week after week, given that HE DOESN’T REALLY DO MUCH OUT ON THE FLOOR THAT’S WORTH DISCUSSING. There was blatant troupe overuse this week, probably to try and conceal the fact that Joe can’t even walk on-time; and there was also an abrupt ending, probably designed to put us out of our misery quickly. If you were entertained by it, or just think Joe’s great, congrats – you stan a mediocre guy and your standards are unsettlingly low. I’ve let the Bachelor Nation be for the most part, but given that they’ve trashed the resort beyond repair (I have an extended metaphor comparing the DWTS fandom to residents at a timeshare resort – the Bachelor fans are the rowdy spring breakers that ruin everything) and are now barging into other residents’ units to preach the gospel of Joe (in this case, invading my Twitter mentions to just generally be trolls), I’m fixing to call y’all out. There is nothing about him I find charming, entertaining, funny, talented, or remarkable. I am bored of his dancing.  I done been bored of his dancing for weeks now. The Joe needs to GO. Will he? Probably not, because y’all seem to have a hard-on for male mediocrity.  But go off, I guess.

5.) Bobby & Sharna – If I get annoyed with Joe for doing nothing, I get annoyed with Bobby for trying to do too much, and just coming across like an antsy kid as a result. And given that we now know the true reason for him being on the show (to promote his stint as a full-time mentor on AI next season…think he’ll complain about his schedule when he’s on that show, too?), I just don’t have much of a use for him anymore. His shoulders were hunched forward for the duration of his waltz, and his feet were shuffle-y and off-time. No real improvement, and even more annoying when you take into account that the two guys who DID go home managed to stay on-time and have much better posture in their dances. And they also didn’t complain about their schedules, or try to shade other couples for having dance experience. The Bobbo has got to GO, too. I think his odds of getting booted are better than Joe’s, but knowing how half-cocked a good portion of the DWTS fandom seems to be right now, he’ll probably stick around for the finale.  Joe & Bobby fans, do y’all stan mediocre freestyles? ‘Cause this is how we get mediocre freestyles.

6.) Alexis & Alan – I see these two must have attended the Juan-Note Pablo School of Robotic Emoting, judging from the stiff and awkward “I have feelings for you too” *longing glance* *brushes hair out of face* moments we were treated to during their package.  I half expected Alan’s ears to start smoking and him to start saying “ERROR ERROR ERROR” if it went on much further.  Like seriously – what a cluster, y’all.  Whether it’s for real or for show, it feels phony as hell, and it’s not as if their dancing is fantastic enough to redeem the bad showmancing. Samba was lukewarm – Alexis dances samba just like Melissa Rycroft: on-time and not missing any steps, but never quite nailing the technique and generally looking soft and cheerleader-y the whole time. Zzzzzzz. Part of me thinks she may end up being the tour celeb (thus extending the showmance into a tourmance…*gag*), and so they’re going to continue overscoring them to keep them around (and kick the showmance into overdrive…I’m fully expecting Alan to fauxpose during their rehearsal package on Monday night)…but part of me also thinks that the fans are smarter than that, and can see through all of the saccharine showmancing. Or at least I hope they do.  Idk, my faith in the fandom is dubious at the moment…

Thoughts on the team dances:

As has been the trend for several years now, the team dances weren’t terribly memorable or impressive, so I wouldn’t really label either one a “winner”. I will tip my hat to both teams for getting creative in using the space, and generally trying to “sell” the dance; I think Team HayNow was maybe a tad cleaner in their execution, but not by much.  Evanna was my MVP for Team HayNow – she was blending in BEAUTIFULLY with the female pros, and selling the hell out of the dance.  Honorable mention to Milo for being cute and having good energy, and not out-dancing his teammates (which can be a legitimate problem when you’re a good dancer having to dance with weaker ones).  Bones was the albatross – if there was something that looked off or odd in the group sections, it was usually Bobby not quite blending in with his teammates. As for Team JoeDown – oddly enough, I thought this dance suited Juan Pablo perfectly, and I would probably actually pick him as the MVP of that team; maybe it was the campiness of the song or the theme, maybe it was just his costume, but he seemed to carry this dance off the best of anyone on his team. Honorable mention to DeMarcus, who was giving it the ol’ college try and was at least selling the dance well. I disagree with Bruno about Alexis “blending in with the female pros” – she still moves wayyyy to soft ‘n’ easy to hold her own against hard-hitters like Jenna & Lindsay. Mainly,  I was impressed with JoeDown’s ability to keep Joe from dancing for as long as they did 😛 When in doubt, make your weak link go ride the mechanical bull, I guess.

So those are my (very late) thoughts on this week’s show…now that we’ve all had a few days to ruminate on it, what are yours? What are your predictions for the finale?