PureDWTS Season 27, Week 8 – Power Rankings, Who Will Win?

Y’all, it’s been a week…hell, it’s been a season.  And if I’m being honest, this is one season that has felt like it has absolutely DRAGGGGGGED on – I’m not sure I’ve wanted a season to be over this badly since maybe season 11, when Bristol was sticking around like a bad rash. Strike that – season 14 was pretty bad, too, when William Levy was getting jammed down my throat every week. Season 20 wasn’t much better, given that it had been predetermined it was “Val’s season” from week 1 and it got monotonous pretty quickly. To put it plainly: I’m just plain ready for this season to be over, and have my life back for the next 5ish months. I’ve got plans in the pipeline 😉

So in the penultimate elim of the season (which was a double, thank goodness – a 5-person finale on a season where the finale is only 1 night is a bit much), we finally shook Grocery Joe loose (yassssssss) and also lost Juan-Note Pablo in the second “shocking” elim of the season.  Can’t say I was terribly upset about either one leaving us – Joe should have been gone in week 1, and was little more than a glorified weightlifting spotter in his dances on Monday night; Juan Pablo, while probably deserving of a spot in the finale, just never resonated with me as a person – and I apparently wasn’t alone, as he clearly wasn’t getting the votes to stay. I think it says something when we ALMOST get a rare show of vulnerability from Juan Pablo (talking about his mother beating cancer in his rehearsal package, and dedicating his dance to her), and then it was like “JK, I’mma still serve you macho Latin lover realness!” and he performed a dance that, while technically quite good, was little different than every other dance we got from him this season: all smolder and sexiness, and no vulnerability or emotion.  I will credit him for being (to my knowledge) the first and only real-live Argentinean to perform an Argentine tango on DWTS, but at the end of the day, I think he & Cheryl probably missed the mark a bit in the grand scheme of things – you have to be a good dancer to succeed on this show, but people also have to like you and care about you; and if you’re constantly serving the same bravado week after week, dance after dance, and not taking the time to show the viewers that you’re also human and have feelings, they’re probably going to tune you out after awhile, no matter how great your dancing is.

I’ve been getting quite a few questions about what I think the future of this show looks like, given the three-ring circus that this season has been. Unfortunately, I think it looks grim – can’t remember where I had this conversation, but Heidi, John, & I were talking recently about the future of the show, and either Heidi or John said “At this point, they’ve gotten what they wanted out of the show – they probably don’t really care what happens now, and will let the show continue its steady demise until they find something better to take its place.” Let’s face it: getting 25+ seasons out of a show where it stays a ratings juggernaut is not just good – it’s great.  Almost unheard of…so for DWTS to be taking a dive in season 27, it’s more than likely just the show running its course. Sure, there’s been some wonky stuff going on this season, but I’d chalk a lot of that up to overall viewership being down and less of a normalizing influence in the voting as a result; I don’t think it’s so much that the SHOW has changed, it’s the AUDIENCE moving on.  I have often found myself saying “I just want to see something I haven’t seen before!” for several seasons now – be it a new pro, some more “out there” choreographic risks, an unexpected celeb, etc. I can’t imagine I’m alone in that desire.  Given that the show has basically already called several audibles this season (rearranging the elimination schedule, changing the original plan for a 5-couple finale, and cutting the finale down to 1 night), I don’t think ABC would have any qualms cancelling a prospective spring season if it came down to it – really, the only evidence we have of a spring season in 2019 is an interview (which I haven’t seen myself) where Sharna apparently said she had “signed on for several more seasons, including the spring one”; given that the pros contracts are pretty open-ended, and being “on contract” just means you must avail yourself if they need you, I don’t think we can safely assume there’s going to be a spring season, just that Sharna is available for it if there is one. And someone also pointed out to me that the winter tour has now been extended through early March – if there was going to be a regular-length spring season, the cast would have already been announced at that point, and the couples rehearsing. At this point, I’m dubious that there’s going to be a spring season at all, but if there is, I think the best we can hope for is a shortened one, a la season 26. I’d personally be just fine with no spring season, as I’m going to be tripled up on my classes by that point and also job hunting out west. DWTS can come back in the fall, when I’m done with school, hopefully settled into my new digs in Denver, and with a lot more free time on my hands 😉

4th place: Alexis & Alan

I’m getting a real Jana Kramer/Melissa Rycroft/Aly Raisman vibe off Alexis at this point –  she moves very pretty, and isn’t technically wrong in the way she moves, per se…but nothing about her dancing is terribly impactful, and she still feels too smiley and cheerleader-y.  And at this point, the showmance just feels…saccharine. And also robotic, to a level that Juan-Note Pablo would probably be jealous of. Sure, enough viewers seem to have bought it in order to get them to the finale, but they still ended up in jeopardy on Monday night, and I’m getting a gut feeling she may be (one of) the tour celeb(s)…hence the attempt by TPTB to give her a boost of sorts.  Waltz was a snooze – the fact that Alexis’ hair was wet at the beginning was giving me traumatic flashback’s to Jana’s flash-and-trash Argentine tango with a billion-and-one props in season 23, and then beyond that, I don’t remember much of anything, good or bad. The jive was cute and had a nice theme, but Alexis looked too soft doing it, and it even looked like she may have been a skosh off-time in a few spots because her legs and feet were too soft. Brandon really stole the show in that one for me, and it makes me wish we could have seen what he & Tinashe would have done with that same song (plot twist: those “judges’ choice” dances were really just the 2nd dances the couples would have done had they landed in the bottom 6 in week 1 – Alexis & Alan burned through theirs already, so they had to bogart Tinashe & Alan’s unused song…which makes THREE soft jives we’ve seen from them this season). At the end of the night, like Jana and Aly, I just don’t see her finishing any better than 4th – she’s not bad, she’s not great, she’s just there. If she’s first in the running order come Monday night – she didn’t win, fam. And she’s prolly in 4th place.

3rd place: Bobby & Sharna

High-key annoyed that he’s still in this competition, as he is only marginally better than Joe was (and was overall still one of the weaker dancers this season), but here we are – guess this is what happens when you throw a guy on this show to promote his upcoming stint as a permanent mentor on Idol, and he somehow dupes people into thinking he’s this humble, down-to-earth dude by constantly reminding the audience that he’s “from a town of 800 people in Arkansas” and he’s “never danced before”; and to top it off, he stages these faux “I-just-got-so-carried-away-cause-I-love-dancing-so-much!” outbursts in an attempt to endear himself to the audience.  Sharna looks like she vacillates between barely tolerating him and wanting to karate-chop him in the throat like Miss Piggy – and I can’t say I blame her. When your partner’s constantly calling audibles and you’re stuck looking like a fool because of it, I can imagine it grates pretty fast. Jive was maybe a marginal improvement on his first one – I disagree that he “hit every step!”, because he did seem like he was off-time and maybe missed a few.  If I had to guess, Sharna was probably going to her happy place in her head, which was probably this vastly superior dance to the same song. As for the salsa – Bobby’s feet were conveniently hidden by the audience and staging for most of the time, and it looked like he was doing quite a bit of seizure-like attempts at hip rolls.  Overall – nothing terribly impressive; but there are clearly folks who have fallen for his schtick, because he’s somehow in the finale.  I think he’s got the juice to get past Alexis, but that’s it – or at least I hope that’s it.  If he bumps either Milo or Evanna out of the top 2, I’m not sure I’ll be ready to watch this show again for another year. But I think the judges are probably going to pull a Noah Galloway and vastly underscore Bobby, in an attempt to keep him out of spitting distance from Alexis, Milo, & Evanna; I think the only one he stands a prayer of possibly covering the spread on is Alexis. But hey, if you like him, I guess you can go see him on tour, cause he’s apparently joining a few of the dates…?

Runner-up:  Milo & Witney

I can’t believe I have to say this, but some clarification: I DO NOT HATE MILO, despite what a small-but-annoyingly-vocal minority on Twitter seems to think. Have we really reached the point where we’ve completely lost nuance, and preferring another contestant somehow equates to “hating” on this one? Perhaps this show deserves to die, if this is the average level of emotional intelligence its fans possess. I have no beef with Milo.  He’s been one of the ones I’ve been rooting for all season long – he’s just not my #1 pick to win.  And I think he got saddled with two dances this week that maybe weren’t as impactful as some of the stuff the other couples got handed.  I thought his Argentine tango was cool, but as I was discussing with Justin on Twitter, I think the song screwed him a bit – while JP got a traditional Argentine tango song with lots of built-in accents and dramatic phrasing to guide the choreo of the dance, Milo had to contend with a more modern, cool, slow-burning techno-y song without a ton of strong accents to compliment…so the end result felt a bit too tame.  But I did love how clean his footwork was, and there was one kind of neat turning lift that just looked butter-smooth and seamless. Oddly enough, I think his cha-cha suffered a similar fate: song was just a bit too cool and controlled for him to really let loose, and lord knows what the hell Carrie Ann was talking about when she said it was “too wild” – if anything, I think the odd phrasing of the music preventing him from really letting loose and stunting. He handled it well, but the end result was just a bit bland. With all this in mind, I think he faded into the woodwork a bit this week, which probably hurt him a bit headed into  the finale – the time to peak and make voters sit up and take notice was this week, so anyone that went more of the mild route probably suffered by comparison.  Plus you’ve got the fact that the fans seem to be on the “I want to see a pro win who hasn’t won yet!” bandwagon more than ever, and Witney’s the only pro in the finale this season with an MBT under her belt. But I’ve enjoyed Milo immensely this season – he’s truly been a bright spot, with a confident-yet-humble attitude, a natural skill set as a dancer and a performer, and a heart-warming relationship with his mom.  I wouldn’t mind seeing him win – I just want to see someone else win a bit more…

Winner: Evanna & Keo

If you would have told me a year ago that not only would Keo stand a good chance of winning season 27, but that I’d be hardcore gunning for he and his partner to win the MBT, I probably would have asked what substances you had ingested (and I might have asked you to share, but that’s neither here nor there 😉 ).  I’ll admit, my feelings about Keo over the years have ranged from “Oof, he needs to work on his teaching skills!” to “Man, they really do saddle him with the turds!” to “Keo is the new Tony – nice guy, trying to get better, but doesn’t get much in the way of talent to work with.” His first few seasons were pretty rough – I got the impression that he may have been hired to diversify the cast, and give DWTS some bragging rights: “Look, we have a black pro!!! We r so #woke!!!” But I think he may not have actually had much in the way of actual teaching experience at the time (as far as I could tell, he had primarily been a performer and a competitor up until that point), so his first three seasons were a baptism by fire…and he didn’t manage eke out a single-digit finish until Jodie came along in season 22, and we started to see his teaching and choreo skills sharpen up.  Too bad that season was exceptionally competitive, and had Jodie been on another season, she probably could have pulled off a spot in the finale. Then he got sent back to the funny farm for two seasons with wacky Charo and wacky Barbara, and then got stuck with wet-blanket Jennie in the all-athletes season (although he did manage to pull off a 4th place finish). I feel like the stars aligned with Evanna – and while the judges didn’t seem to love her from the jump, she did have a sort of dark-horse journey, and has peaked at exactly the right time to win this thing, I think. I think this week was really all about Evanna & Keo’s synergy, and Keo’s growth as a pro – I have to give him such tremendous props for actually taking the initiative to strengthen his choreo and teaching skills, and for really listening to the judges each week.  Like Lindsay, I may have been tough on him in the beginning – but I will be the first to give credit where it’s due when I see genuine growth and improvement.  Especially when you look at the rest of the male pro lineup – aside from Brandon’s creativity and Artem doing the best he can with what he’s got, I don’t see the men really making great strides to better themselves as pros. Sasha seems to have plateaued, Val seems satisfied with his 2 MBT’s, Alan seems to be stuck working through various DWTS tropes (partner with an illness, partner with verbal diarrhea, partner to have a fauxmance with), and Gleb is just a narcissist. And for as icky as I find some of the male pros, they don’t seem to get a fraction of the hard time Keo has gotten on this show – to echo what Erin said, Keo and his early exits have become a bit of a running joke, and while he may do a good job of plastering on a smile and chuckling along with everyone making cracks…at the end of the day, that sh*t starts to sting, y’all.  Especially when you’re the sole dark-skinned man trying to prove you’re every bit as talented and worthy as a bunch of white, Eurocentrically-attractive male dancers with much more privileged dancing pedigrees than your own. So when Keo started tearing up on Monday night, I got it – it was as if he was saying “See? I belong here, too…I have talent, and I’m finally getting to show you what I’m capable of.” I don’t mean to make this all about Keo, as Evanna has been nothing short of utterly lovely this season – going with the flow, despite not always getting the love she deserves from the judges, and managing to shake off any negativity and give it another shot the next week – but I think she even realizes just how IMPORTANT this season has been for him, and doesn’t mind ceding her desire to win for herself to her desire to win FOR KEO.  At the end of the day, I think this bond they have is going to be what wins them the MBT – though that’s not to say they haven’t been great dancers, too, because they absolutely have.  Loved their contemporary, and appreciated that Keo managed to avoid many of the flaily contemporary-by-numbers tropes that I’ve come to loathe; thought Evanna moved very organically and really locked into the choreo. Foxtrot was pretty and I think the song was a boon, as everyone seems to be obsessed with The Greatest Showman right now. The stars just seem to be aligning for these two, and I hope I won’t be the only one voting like crazy for them during Monday night’s show – I have a feeling Emma might have some competition for “best pro reaction to winning gif” in Keo 😉

So that’s a wrap on season 27 for me…what are your thoughts headed into the finale? And what do you think the future holds for DWTS?