PureDWTS Season 28, Week 6: Power Rankings

Oof, dear LAWD – what a mess this show has become. To be clear: while Ally and Sailor may not be the best dancers this season, they’re far from the worst, and neither should have been in the bottom Monday night.  And yet, here we are, trying to make sense of the fact that Lindsay’s partner (who, despite her best efforts, is still by and far the worst dancer remaining this season) hasn’t even been in the bottom two yet this season, while those actually unfortunate enough to land there seemed like a revolving door of people of color with far more talent and charm than him. Clearly the other cast members were just as gobsmacked as we were, as the looks on their faces as the credits rolled just seemed like a stunned collective countenance of “WTF”. And when I ruminate on how far this show has fallen, it makes me think back to an op-ed from The Cut that Heidi shared back before the season began, which looks at Lindsay’s partner’s participation on the show as symptomatic of a bigger problem we seem to have as a society at the moment: the disdain held for the educated, trained, and competent in favor of the spectacle of rank amateurs taking up space instead. Heck, we see it in the current administration – men and women holding positions they have neither the experience nor the general intelligence necessary to adequately fulfill their duties, while those with the credentials and education to actually do these jobs well are treated with general contempt and are branded “elitists”. And when our damn reigning champion is trying to apply this same narrative to the show and rally his fans to vote for Lauren instead of “those Hollywood types” (you mean the ones that can actually dance, Bones?) much in the same way he constantly reminded us on his season that he “was from a town of 800 people, never danced before in my life, all those other people have dance experience, but vote for me cause I make a great story!!!” Whether it’s Bones trying to convince middle America that he’s “just like them” or you-know-who putting up straw men about being persecuted on the show “because [he’s] a Christian”, it’s all just wagging the dog to divert attention from the fact that THEY CAN’T DANCE but feel entitled to a win nonetheless.

All that being said, I think another big problem the show is struggling with now is the fact that we just don’t have as many viewers invested enough to tune in and vote; and when the total number of votes gets smaller, the potential for shenanigans increases, as it gives fringe voting groups (like Bones’ fans) more leverage. I’ve had a few people on Twitter asking me if I think the new voting format (only Eastern and Central time zones are able to vote while actually watching the show; Mountain and Pacific can vote, but they have to do so blindly) is to blame for some of the weirdness we’ve seen so far this season – and honestly, while I don’t think it’s helping, I think the bigger problem is just that viewership is down and viewers aren’t impassioned enough to vote anymore. To put it in perspective, during the show’s heyday, it was commanding anywhere from 15 to upwards of 22 million viewers per episode (back in season 10 – keep in mind, this was pre-The Voice, which didn’t start airing concurrent with DWTS until 2011); it trended down once it had to go head-to-head with The Voice, though it was still averaging 8-12 million viewers per episode as recently as season 25. Then 2018 came along, and we got a truncated spring season that topped out at 8.77 million for the finale, followed by Bones’ season, which couldn’t muster any better than 7.9 million. And this season, aside from the premiere, we’ve been hovering in the 6 million range. Maybe Heidi could do a numbers post that illustrates the differences that happen when you’ve got 22 million, 12 million, and 6 million viewers voting to give you an idea of how much more power a fringe voting group has when the vote totals are lower, but trust me: Lindsay’s partner doesn’t need a ton of votes (boasting from his fans notwithstanding) to stick around when a) there’s just not as many people voting, total and b) when the judges are being far, FAR too kind with their scoring of him, which proves they’ve learned absolutely nothing in their 14 years judging this show.

So all that aside, we ended up with Ally and Sailor in the bottom 2 (and I had kind of wondered about Ally as recently as 2 weeks ago – I also said we would need to have a “come to Jesus” meeting if she ended up in the bottom two…), and one of them had to go – and I think the judges made the right call in keeping Ally. While Sailor did seem to be improving (and again – DID NOT BELONG IN THE BOTTOM 2), I thought Ally had an overall better command of all the dance styles she had done, while Sailor only seemed to really shine in certain styles (tango and Viennese waltz). I will say I found it a tad peculiar that Sailor took her elimination so hard – you could begin to the see the panic on her face when she was one of the last five still waiting to get called safe, and it was downhill from there; she was absolutely incoherent and inconsolable by the time it was just her and Ally standing there. For someone that stepped in at the last minute for her mother and apparently hadn’t planned to do this show until three days before the premiere, she seemed pretty devastated at the prospect of getting eliminated – while Ally, who I think had far more to prove in doing DWTS and had been signed on from the get-go, seemed far more composed. Everyone processes emotion differently, so who knows – but there were kids on Juniors that accepted their elimination more gracefully than Sailor did. Perhaps my curiosity was just piqued by a blind item someone on Twitter told me about, which implied something to the extent of “it was always the plan for Sailor to be on the show, Christie just agreed to do the show and faked the injury so Sailor could take her place and it was in Sailor’s contract that she had to make it to the semifinals!” Clearly the last part wasn’t true, but the whole Sailor replacing Christie situation still struck me as odd, as there had been rumors before Christie had even been announced as a celeb that she had already dropped out – and then we had Sailor just utterly devastated at being eliminated, and I had to kinda go “Hmmmm.” I saw a few comments on Twitter asking “Wow, where did all of Val’s fans go??? Eliminated early two seasons in a row now!!!”, to which I refer back to my point above that there just aren’t as many people watching and voting, period – additionally, they finally stopped handing him serial ringers after Normani, and so he’s had to really work to get decent dancing out of the three partners he’s had since then…with mixed results. Read more..