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PureDWTS Season 28, Week 10: Power Rankings – Who Will Win?

Before the show each week, I start to compile a list of talking points in my head that I can include in the intro to the week’s power rankings. General, all-encompassing thoughts that seem to summarize what is going on on the show at any given time. Headed into Monday night’s show, my thoughts were something along the lines of “Y’know, aside from you-know-who and maybe Ray being included this season, this has actually been a really great cast and the funny business has been kept to a minimum. Glad that we’re headed into the finale with the right group of people!” Well, strike that – the judges managed to ruin that sentiment in one unceremonious swoop last night, when they opted to eliminate possibly the best and most consistent dancer this season (who had never been in the bottom two before) in favor of saving someone who was in the bottom two for the third time (and is consistently overscored). Do I even need to mention that James likely only fell into the bottom two owing to personal tragedy striking over the weekend, which likely affected his performances? His bottom two appearance was a fluke, and he had a record of solid performances over the span of this season that should have made him the easy choice for saving – and yet the judges discarded him without batting an eye.  This is unfortunately exactly what I worried would happen with the judges’ save in my power rankings last week – the judges using it to REPEATEDLY contradict the viewer vote. I’ve seen several theories from folks trying to make sense of why James was eliminated over Ally, and I guess I’ll just address them in list form:

“Maybe James asked to be eliminated so he could go home to be with his family!”

We’ve had contestants that have dropped out for all sorts of reasons over the years – injuries (i.e. Misty May-Treanor, Dorothy Hamill), illnesses (i.e. Tamar Braxton, Kim Zolciak), even interpersonal issues (Sara Evans left season 3 because she was getting divorced). If James wanted to go home, he could have very easily just announced that he was withdrawing, and I don’t think anyone would have begrudged him for it. Why go through the whole song and dance of rigging an elimination, and making the judges look absolutely insane??? And why have James beg for votes after getting his second score? Both he and Emma looked genuinely shocked and devastated when they were eliminated, so I tend to think this was NOT pre-planned. He seemed to be enjoying the experience of DWTS too much to just withdraw.

“Did James maybe pose too much of a threat to Hannah winning, so they got rid of him?”

I would say he was probably the most likely to play spoiler to a Hannah win, but why would they put so much emphasis on Hannah winning??? Sure, she’s ABC family, but I don’t think they had to make a bunch of wacky promises to get her to sign onto the cast (she seemed pretty willing to do the show), and she’s arguably at the END of her ABC shelf life (Bachelor & Bachelorette stints are already over, the possibility of a Tyler C. reconciliation is dead and buried, Bachelor in Paradise won’t air until next fall – IF they would even cast her)…so I don’t really see an advantage for ABC propping her up for the win. It would have actually made more sense to me to ensure James won, as it would uphold the narrative that the new system works to make sure dancers that are both good and popular with the audience win (and we don’t get another Bones).

“Did the judges maybe think James needed to go be with his family?”

If so, they had no business projecting that onto James – PERIODT. Ask James if he wants to go home; don’t assume he wants to go home because of what he’s going through, or assume that it’s the “right thing to do” given the circumstances. Bitch please – give the poor man agency over his own life, and don’t be so arrogant so as to assume you know what’s best for him.

Are they trying to make sure that Ally wins?

If so, it’s a fool’s errand – she’s been in the bottom two THREE times now; do they judges think she’s somehow gonna miraculously rally the votes to take home the MBT next week??? ‘Cause I sure don’t. If the viewers weren’t voting for her by now, they’re not gonna vote for her next week – especially now that she’s got the stink of being the one that the judges eliminated James for hanging over her head. Not her fault, but I’ll admit that I’m probably not going to be throwing any votes her way – she should have been gone by now. Additionally – WHAT DOES THE SHOW GAIN FROM ALLY WINNING? Are they trying to change the narrative to “screw the viewer votes, the judges know best!” Because that’s the only outcome I see from the unlikely event that Ally somehow manages to win. She’s part of a defunct girl group, she’s not got any huge projects in the pipeline…is she the tour celeb??? One of the celebs on this new, ill-conceived DWTS vacay??? Who knows. Bottom line: I don’t see any great benefit to the show or the network in the highly unlikely event Ally wins.

“Ally was clearly the better dancer, so it makes sense that James got eliminated!”

Delusion, thy name is Harmonizers. It could be argued that Ally’s a better all-around dancer than Lauren, possibly a better showman than Hannah, and perhaps a better technician than Kel – I even said last week that I think Ally’s probably the second-best dancer this season. But James had Ally beat on ALL FRONTS, and he was the only one I thought for sure that the judges would ditch Ally for. Sis’ two dances last night were okay-to-decent – but they weren’t James-level polished, and when you take into account the fact that James (even in his off-weeks) consistently was by and large better than everyone else this season, the decision to keep him should have been a no-brainer. Ally’s a great girl and a good dancer – but she ain’t the best. Overscored, sure. It’s not even subjective at this point – James was the better dancer, period.

Was this all just for drama?

Who knows – maybe. With the unmentionable one gone, did they somehow need to stir up drama in another way? If so, this was a dangerous (and possibly counter-intuitive) game to play – I feel James would have been someone that people specifically tuned in to watch in the finale, and now that he’s gone, I could see ratings taking a tumble. Are people talking about what happened Monday night? Sure.  But will it translate to viewers? Doubtful.

All conspiracy theories aside, I’m honestly gutted for James – both for the tragedy he’s currently enduring on the home front, as well as his magical journey on DWTS coming to an abrupt and unexpected end. I was really looking forward to seeing a freestyle from him & Emma! I think he’s right up there with Hinch and Shad as one of the best male celebs without dance experience that we’ve had on the show – hell, he might be THE best male celeb without dance experience that we’ve had on the show. He’s also a class act that hasn’t said one bitter word since his elim (though I would not shame him if he did), and has been nothing but gracious and supportive of the remaining finalists.  To Ally’s credit, she also tearfully begged James to take her spot in the finals – she saw the writing on the wall (that James was the better dancer with the better track record) and also felt terrible that he got eliminated in a week where he had already endured so much sorrow. So to make my stance clear: what happened sucked, but I don’t blame anyone but the judges – it was their low-balling and just mind-boggling decision-making that caused James’ elimination, NOT Ally. So sending her (or any of the other remaining contestants) bad energy or abuse? Not a good look – I would hope our readers here are smarter and more emotionally intelligent than that 😉 Read more..

November 20, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 9: Power Rankings

HE’S GONE, GUYS!!!! HE’S REALLY, FINALLY GONE!!! 🙂 *cue Pharrell’s “Happy”*

It only took nine weeks, but we finally shook him loose…and not a moment too soon.  Not sure if I was feeling more optimistic at the beginning of the season and fatigue/frustration is setting in now that we’re close to the end or what, but somehow, it seems like S*** somehow got WORSE as the season wore on. Even Bristol Palin (whose politically-charged casting I also disapproved of) managed to actually improve during the course of season 11; wacky Rick Perry even got a skosh better before he got booted in season 23. S***…not so much.  And yes, I still refuse to say his name – I don’t want his supporters or anyone at ABC thinking that “any publicity is good publicity”, and thus I make sure it doesn’t even show up in the search algorithm by refusing to say it. He should never have been on this show in the first place; the fact that he stuck around as long as he did is a damn travesty. But mercifully, it’s over now. And I give all the props in the world to Lindsay and Jenna for being nothing less that consummate professionals and class acts in partnering him this season 🙂

So we saw a bit of wonky scoring last night – I don’t think that was an accident, by any means. If I had to guess what was happening, I’d say that someone in the control booth was keeping a very close eye on the votes and scores throughout the show, and was feeding the judges instructions on what scores needed to be given in order to elicit a particular outcome at the end of the night. Based on her being in the bottom 2 twice before, my guess is that the judges were instructed to protect Ally at all costs – hence, two good (but definitely not perfect) dances got gifted with gushing praise and perfect scores. I think they likely were told to go easy on Kel on his second dance, based on the number of votes the man in the control room was seeing – they got kinda nitpicky with his paso in the first hour, but had nothing but good things to say about his good (but again, not perfect) Viennese waltz in the second hour. I’m guessing Hannah and James are doing a-okay with votes, and thus weren’t spared from the full force of the judges’ nitpicking. Half the judges (Joey, who gets a pass for being the guest judge, and Carrie Ann, who refuses to take any responsibility for S***’s continued presence) whipped out the “7” paddle for S***’s first dance, but demurred for his second dance (which might have actually been slightly better than his first dance) and whipped out the “6” instead. I’d stake money on it that they were ordered to do so by the control room, as it was likely the only way to ensure he fell into the bottom 2. That left Lauren to join him in the bottom 2, and if I’m being honest, this felt like the first time this season that the bottom two actually made sense: S*** was quite obviously the worst dancer left in the competition, and I think Lauren’s the weakest one left after him. Though that really didn’t matter – the reality was that S*** was going home as soon as he fell into the bottom 2, regardless of who was there with him.  Keeping Ally and Kel out of the bottom two was likely more for optics than anything else…

…which brings me to my next thought (or really, a couple of semi-related thoughts): why aren’t more people voting for Ally, and at what point will the judges stop saving her if she keeps falling into the bottom 2? I’ve seen a lot of folks on Twitter trying to figure out why Ally isn’t getting more votes, especially since “Normani made it all the way to the  finals, the Harmonizers should be carrying Ally as well!” First, I go back to my “Not as many people are watching/voting on DWTS now” point – the show was averaging between 8-11 million viewers 2.5 years ago when Normani was on; now they’re barely hovering above 6 million. Secondly (and this is one I really have to sell folks on), I’m still not convinced that Normani was “getting tons of votes” like her fans claim. I explained the many reasons why I think she didn’t win in this post, but for the TL:DR crowd, take a look at the margins between Normani and the person voted off each week.  Aside from one off-week early on in the season, she always either had pretty hefty padding in terms of points or immunity to keep her safe – she didn’t actually NEED a ton of votes in order to stick around each week. Additionally, I also mention in that post the somewhat indifferent attitude DWTS fans seem to have towards female pop stars – they tend to struggle with votes, particularly if they’re young and relatively new to the music scene (read: not immediately familiar to Baby Boomers).  I tend to think all of these factors that Normani had stacked against her, Ally is likely dealing with as well…and to a greater degree, owing to the demise of Fifth Harmony, overall lower viewer/votership, a pro less popular than Normani’s, and a rep as “the worst dancer in Fifth Harmony” (which still I absolutely don’t understand). Plus, Ally’s up against at least three contestants (four if you count Kel; five when you throw in S***) that appeal more readily to the middle-aged, female, conservative-leaning main viewing demographic. Really and truly, Ally’s dealing with a pretty stacked deck – which SUCKS, cause she may actually be the second best dancer this season from a technical standpoint. So that brings me to my next thought: with the new format that allows the judges to pick who goes home from the bottom 2, will they ever reach a point where they stop trying to save someone that ends up there repeatedly? Ally’s been there twice already, and been saved both times; if she ends up there next week, is it worth saving her if she’s just going to keep ending up there again and again? I think at some point, the judges’ are going to have to take into account the fact that a couple that ends up in the bottom 2 repeatedly is just not clicking with fans for whatever reason – and continuing to save that couple could send the message that viewer votes don’t necessarily matter, and could risk alienating viewers. It really might be just a stay of execution, so to speak.  And when you take into account that she could end up there with a couple that maybe just had an off week (score-wise or votes-wise) and their being in the bottom 2 is really just a fluke…is it worth it to save the one with repeat bottom 2 appearances, and send the one-off couple that shouldn’t really even be there packing? It’s something to consider, and I saw a few people on Twitter suggesting that the judges should have a limit on how many times they can save the same couple – I don’t think it’s a bad idea, and could avoid giving the impression that the judges have ultimate control.  Clearly this new system for eliminations isn’t perfect – it  was created to help prevent another Bobby Bones, and yet it allowed one of the worst dancers this season to advance all the way to the quarterfinals; could be worth taking a closer look and see if certain aspects of the system needs tweaking. Read more..

November 13, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 8: Power Rankings

He’s still here, y’all. 🙁

We’re only three weeks away from the finale, and we’ve eliminated half of this season’s cast. Assuming they eliminate one couple next week and another the following week, we’re looking at a four-person finale – and given that the judges seem disinclined to really do anything to help the situation, I think we need to start coming terms with the fact that’s he’s more than likely going to end up in the finals, barring any sort of extreme interference from production. As I predicted last week, this week’s bottom two was just a recycling of previous bottom 2 survivors, which makes me think it’s going to continue being such (sorry Ally, and possibly sorry Kel) until he finally ends up pitted against contestants that have also been able to steer clear of it thus far (read: Hannah, James, Lauren). I’ve seen some folks worried that he might win – while I’m not ruling it out completely, I’m also thinking (hoping) that his continued presence is lighting a fire underneath some viewers to vote for all the other couples, and with each week that passes there’s fewer and fewer people to spread the votes around to…so those that haven’t fallen into the bottom 2 yet are likely amassing bigger and bigger shares of the voting pie, which creates more pressure for his voters to pick up the slack. I’ve given up on the judges actually scoring him fairly – he should be getting 4’s, and not the overly-kind 6’s and 7’s that the judges are still throwing out.  Got blocked by Carrie Ann (again) for telling her that she has no room to be “irritated” with the fans, when she’s actively contributing to him sticking around by copping out with her little 7 paddle. So we clearly can’t rely on the judges to actually drop the hammer. But if it’s any consolation, we confirmed this week that you can vote ten times per couple, per account online, so if you aren’t doing so already – go through and add ten votes for each couple EXCEPT HIM, then submit your votes, log out, and repeat with your other accounts. If we ride this hard, it could result in him falling into the bottom 2, where he can finally be flushed out…

So with this continued clownery, the question on everyone’s lips seems to be “Is the show going to be cancelled?” If you’re just asking for my opinion, I say if this is the type of nonsense we can look forward to for seasons to come, the show SHOULD be cancelled; however, the actual answer is quite a bit more complicated than that. Ratings are at their lowest; however, if ABC is going to cancel DWTS, they’re going to have to come up with something else to put in its time slot that can hold its own against The Voice, which airs concurrently on NBC. I don’t know that it’s going to be very easy for ABC to track down a new show to replace DWTS, but I could see them swapping it out – and I think the most likely candidate is American Idol. It’s currently airing on Sundays (which is actually considered a more competitive time slot than Mondays) and is pulling in roughly the same ratings as The Voice on Monday nights. Why ABC has such confidence in an outdated reality competition format is beyond me, but I could see them giving DWTS’ Monday night slot to Idol and either putting DWTS on Sundays or scrapping it altogether. I mean, they’ve got all manner of fluffy stuff they can pad Sunday night out with – America’s Funniest Home Videos, Kids Say the Darndest Things, Shark Tank, etc. However, AI has been airing in the spring, and is already greenlit for a spring 2020 season; will ABC take the risk of doing two seasons of AI in a year and over-saturating viewers? Can they even AFFORD to do so, given Katy Perry’s bloated salary? There’s a lot of variables to consider when it comes to cancelling DWTS, and while I can’t in good conscience condone several continued seasons of the shenanigans currently happening, I can’t say confidently that this show will be toast after this one. Will be interesting to see what (if anything) gets said about another season on finale night…if they don’t say anything, up-fronts in May of next year will be a key time to watch…

So we lost Kate & Pasha, which, while not unexpected, was still disappointing. I actually thought her jive was her strongest Latin dance, and was impressed and how bouncy and clean the legwork was – which made it all the more annoying when the judges seemed to downplay how well she did, and she ended up with the same score as Lauren for a dance that I thought was actually better. But boy am I glad that they were on this season, and that Pasha was a pro – as Len mentioned last week (I think), Pasha has forced all the other pros to up their game in terms of content, and it’s benefited just about everyone. You could tell Len was sad to see them go when he did press line after Monday’s show, so I guess that’s something… Read more..

November 6, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 7: Power Rankings

Well I guess it goes without saying that Halloween Night brought some bad juju with it that I’m struggling to shake. My girl crush Kate (and male pro messiah, Pasha) fell into the bottom two, while you-know-who somehow dodged the bottom two altogether (again). And I’m noticing a disturbing pattern with his supporters: with each week that passes with him sticking around, they seem to take on more aggressive, offensive posturing; they’re likely heartened by witnessing human garbage like former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus antagonizing Erin on Twitter, over a perceived “sad face” that she apparently had when you-know-who was announced as safe.  He did this completely unprovoked, I might add – and that’s what’s really disturbing to me. Bones’ fans may have been annoying, but I don’t recall them going out of their way to pick fights with his detractors (until finale night, when they all apparently decided to flood my mentions). Supporters of Lindsay’s partner seem to have started searching the #dwts hashtag, and start pig piling on anyone that dares to say anything negative about him – or nothing at all about him (I legit saw one poor fan inundated with “Funny how you’ve left S*** out of your list of favorites” and “You’re gonna feel so stupid when S*** wins this whole season!” tweets from the #MAGA faction).  I don’t even think half these people voting for him even like him as a person or a dancer – I think they just like thinking they’ve somehow “stuck it to the liberals” by keeping him on the show. This is why I refuse to say his name – not only does it give him power in social media algorithms, but it just allows the bad juju of the people that support him to find its way into my timeline. I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS ENERGY. But unfortunately, this show did, and when you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas…

I’ve inevitably had a few fans asking me “What can we do to stop this??? How do we get rid of him????” and I wish I had an easy answer for you. The fool’s errand this season has left us with is to basically vote for EVERY SINGLE OTHER COUPLE, in the hope that they all eventually surpass him in combined scores and votes. However, my gut feeling (one I share with Heidi) is that it’s not necessarily that he’s getting a ton of votes – it’s that there’s not very many votes being cast, TOTAL, and thus it’s giving a small-but-determined fanbase more voting power than they’d normally have. If that’s the case, then every vote that is not for him should help – and it seems like there’s some debate over whether the online accounts will allow you (10) votes total (to distribute among the couples as you see fit, as it’s always been), or whether they will allow you to vote ten times apiece for each couple (like the text voting, which allows you a max of (10) votes per couple). If you truly can vote ten times per couple per account, then y’all, I recommend you ride that till the wheels fall off – that could be the key to finally ousting this festering boil of a contestant. If it’s not the case, then I hope you guys are still voting nonetheless – if you wanted to vote more strategically, I would suggest throwing votes to James, Lauren, and/or Hannah, as I think those are the three that ol’ Frankenstein is going to struggle to surpass in votes (they’ve never been in the bottom 2, while Kate, Ally, and Kel all have). All I know is that if this show ends up with another bullsh*t winner, we can probably kiss it goodbye…hell, we might still kiss it goodbye, even if he doesn’t win. But I’ll be damned if I don’t put up a fight first…

So as I had generally been thinking for the past several weeks, we inevitably lost Karamo – half of the bottom two from last night had no business being there, and I think Karamo had plateaued with his dancing and wasn’t likely to improve much more this season. If you-know-who had gone home last night (or last week…or the week before…) like he ought to, I think Karamo would have probably been in the bottom two with him, and probably would have been the next one eliminated, anyway. I still love the story and the energy he brought with him, though, and if nothing else, I now have a quite fetching “OMG BEEEEYOOOOONNNNNCCCEEEE!” pterodactyl screeching Karamo sound byte as my text tone, graciously created for me by reader Rob 😉 Read more..

October 30, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

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..

October 23, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 5: Power Rankings

Monday night summed up: shut up and make those sweet Disney dolla$, kids. I’ve mentioned it more than once in past seasons, but almost all of the joy from Disney night has gotten sucked out by the relentless capitalist drive to turn the whole show into one giant, two-hour long commercial for Disney – and this season seemed to turn the sales pitch to a fever pitch.  Promos for the new Disney streaming service, rehearsal packages consisting of the couples puttering about Disneyland, and a massive opening number shot on location at the park – it was all a bit much, especially when you take into account that the songs/dances/dance styles seemed like such an afterthought at times. Off the top of my head (and I’m sure you guys will correct me if I’m wrong or missed any), at least six of the nine songs/dance styles/themes on Monday night were recycles from previous seasons – which seemed to be a bit of a detriment to some of the couples, as comparisons to previous dances done to the same song/theme were bound to be made. Not sure what can realistically be done about it, though – heard some folks suggesting that the show “retire” certain Disney songs, but I just don’t see it happening, given that there are already seemingly few Disney songs that actually fit into the dance styles we see on the show without resorting to a bunch of jazz & contemporary routines. One thing done right on Monday night? Having the “extra dancers” do the obligatory promo dance to a newly-released song from a Disney movie nobody has seen yet – it’s always been a bit of an albatross for the couples that have had to do it in previous seasons (Jodie & Keo with Zootopia, Nikki & Artem with Coco, David & Lindsay with Cars 3), so it was nice that they released the couples from that burden and allowed Daniella & Co. to dazzle us 🙂

As expected on feel-good/make money Disney night, nobody was eliminated, and we didn’t even get a bottom 2 – which was halfway disappointing, but also halfway curious, as they could have used that bottom 2 to potentially rally votes for couples that maybe didn’t belong there. But they didn’t – so they either a) ran out of time, or b) have people in the bottom 2 that belong there, and they don’t dare upset the balance by revealing their hand. Given that the President took time out of his busy schedule of inciting conflict to tweet about voting for his former press secretary on DWTS this week, perhaps I’m a tad skeptical that Lindsay’s partner might be down there – but it could be possible, especially since we are now combining scores and votes from two nights to determine who goes next Monday, and more total points = smaller margins to overcome = more unexpected results.  At this point, he’s the weakest dancer left, and he should be gone; but will he get sent packing…? I really don’t know what to expect from week to week on this show anymore…we’re 5 weeks in and have only ditched three couples, so my gut thinks we’re probably getting a double elim next week; a double elim increases the likelihood of a certain someone getting booted, as he would have to get past not one, but TWO other couples in order to stick around.

So we’re (probably) at the halfway point in the competition, and we’re starting to see a narrative take shape. I think there’s definitely contestants that the judges have decided to champion for the win (or at least a place in the finale) and there’s ones that they’ve decided are expendable.  While my initial feeling was that it was Hannah that was going to get pushed for the win, I’m now thinking they may be focusing on Lauren instead – the latter has a Kelly Pickler-esque, folksy charm and down-to-earth nature that isn’t as apparent in the more reserved Hannah, and my gut’s telling me that the viewers are just eating Lauren up…while they’re a bit more hesitant to embrace Hannah, whose dancing has not popped in the way I had initially hoped, and who I think viewers may actually be a bit burnt out on (more on that later). While I don’t have any beef with Lauren – she seems like a girl I’d love to hang out with it – here’s one problem I see right now with a Lauren win: it just extends Bones’ control of this show. I could see him gloating for months on his show about how he “broke the system”, and now he’s the puppet master and can get all his friends on the show and guarantee them a win simply by plugging them on his radio show. A Lauren (and *cringe* Gleb) win would simply be a slightly more palatable version of Bobby winning – particularly if Gleb continues with some of the choreographic nonsense we’ve seen that doesn’t showcase Lauren well. If the show is trying to distance itself from the stink of season 27, then someone that can legitimately dance needs to win – and I’m hoping James can run interference, because right now, it seems like the judges are going with the “let’s pretend Lauren’s dancing is phenomenal, so when she wins, we keep our street cred!” narrative. Lauren doesn’t suck – but I don’t think she’s anywhere near James, Hannah, or even Ally in terms of her dance skills, and Gleb’s choreography is utterly insulting compared to the chock-full-o’-content dances that nearly all the other pros are churning out (even Val). So do the judges continue handling Lauren’s routines with kid gloves, or do they start backing another contestant FTW? Do they choose to acknowledge that James is probably the best dancer this season? Do they keep trying to make Hannah happen? Or do they start backing a dark horse like Ally, Kel, or even Kate? Hell, at this point, I think there’s even an outside (really outside) chance that Sailor could be the dark horse. Makes one wonder how things are going to pan out in the next 4-6 weeks… Read more..

October 17, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 4: Power Rankings

Anyone else lightweight disappointed that we didn’t get to see Leah & Len come to complete fisticuffs on live national television? 😉 They were getting close there in the end, critiquing Karamo’s dance – and Leah (deservedly) called out Len’s suspicious nitpickery and also Carrie Ann’s sham lift policing, and I was generally kind of glad to have her on board last night – there were times when the judges needed reminding that some of these contestants are NOT dancers, they’re all working hard, and there’s no need to be mean or make things personal. Sure, some could argue that she was over-the-top and stole focus from time to time (which, to be fair, is kind of her brand), but given that it was usually when Len was talking, I’m not too upset – that man could use a bit of humbling these days, particularly when he’s going in on men of color for no good reason…

…and speaking of people of color, consider this me raising my eyebrows at bit at the bottom 2’s we’ve had so far. Mary, Ray, Lamar, Kel, Karamo…if Ally ends up there next week, we may need to have a “come to Jesus” (or whatever deity of your choice) meeting. I can understand Ray and Lamar – neither were very good dancers, and Ray had the added stench of a potentially murderous past. But Mary, Kel, and Karamo – they don’t suck, guys.  I partially blame some of the shenanigans from the judges, but is the viewing audience just far more besotted with snowy-white southern girls Hannah and Lauren, a certain conservative firebrand partnered with Lindsay, and family man/former teen idol James? Jury’s still out on Kate – she’s snowy white too, and from a popular TV show, but this show doesn’t tend to hold on long to women over the age of 40 (unless they’re paired with Derek). Just food for thought, y’all…

Anyway, scoring was all over the place last night, and it seemed like some of the viewers on my Twitter timeline were starting to buy into some of the poppycock that the judges were trying to pass off as fair and informed judging.  One thing I want to get very clear: just because the judges rip a dance to shreds does not necessarily mean it’s inherently bad, and just because the judges praise a dance to high heaven does not mean it’s a great dance that’s above reproach.  I would think by now, most viewers would realize that the judges’ job isn’t necessarily to honestly judge the dance they saw – we’ve seen plenty of instances over the years where they were clearly carrying out some sort of agenda, and their comments and scores didn’t align with what we actually saw on the floor. I recall ridiculous nitpicking of fantastic dancers (and eventual champs) like Jordan and Nicole, and over-the-top praise of generally-okay dancers like William Levy, who just so happened to be inking a deal with Univision (an ABC affiliate) around the time he was on the show. To quote Bing Crosby’s character in White Christmas, “Everybody’s working an angle.” When in doubt, remember this: the judges are getting paid to say what the producers want them to. Sometimes that aligns nicely with the truth; other times it’s nothing resembling it. Sometimes, they seem like they actually know what they’re talking about; other times, they seem about as credible as an Instagram model endorsing the Fyre Festival for a fat paycheck 😛

I would say I was sad to see Lamar go, but I’m generally happy that he went out on a high note – that Viennese waltz was his best dance yet, and he really did improve incrementally each week (even if the judges’ scores didn’t really reflect it). I think he was likely ready to go – it was hard for him to remember the choreography, and I got the impression that the judges’ critiques and scores never really stopped cutting him to the quick each week. Was glad Leah was there to throw him a bone with that “7” paddle, and to shame Len and Bruno for throwing up the “4” paddles for the third week in a row. But with Lamar now gone, there’s really only one obvious bit of “low-hanging fruit” still in the competition – and my gut says he’s still got at least a few weeks left in him, unless the judges decide to get really real and start whipping out the “4” paddles again. So that means we’re likely to start losing better dancers starting next week – how will the viewers react to a potential rehashing of last season’s three-ring circus of persistent mediocrity, starring Bones and Grocery Joe? I’d say next week is when we start getting a feel for whether this show even deserves another season… Read more..

October 9, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 3: Power Rankings

Well I obviously didn’t get to watch the show in real time (had a 3-hour delay in Montrose on my way back from sis’ wedding Monday night, and did a mad dash through the Dallas airport to make my connection back to Indy), and due to 500+ emails I had from 1 week away from the office, I didn’t even get to watch the show until Wednesday evening – and then I was dealing with a freshly cortisone’d wrist on Thursday evening, so typing up the power rankings wasn’t really in the cards until the weekend.  Forgive me? 🙂 I promise the week 4 rankings will be done in a far more timely fashion…

…so I’d say week was generally an improvement over week 2, and I’d credit that to the judges (Len in particular) taking a much softer tack than they have the first two weeks of the season.  At times, judging from what the three of them were saying, it was almost as if they had read my rankings last week…right down to some of the word usage (more on that later). Anywho, it seemed like just about everyone (even Lamar!) had fun this week, which made for a much easier-to-digest show – however, I feel like the show’s still stuck in a bit of an identity crisis. Soooo, do we have a troupe or nah? ‘Cause there seemed to be quite a few extra dancers this week (more than we ever had in the troupe) getting pretty regularly utilized, and a few of them even were former troupe members (I definitely saw Morgan and Vlad in the mix…did I miss anyone else?) Oh, and the fact that these extra dancers brought about more “mucking about” in most of the routines they were in makes me question just how strictly the whole “content, content, content” edict is being emphasized and enforced. Sure, it was Movie Night, which tends to give a bit more leeway for extraneous stuff…but are we focusing on content, or focusing on production value? Do we have a troupe or not have a troupe? Show’s still a bit wishy-washy on what it wants to be, methinks…

…and then there was the whole matter of Ray’s withdrawal from the competition.  Sure, we already saw it coming before Monday night, but still…*sigh* they (controversially) saved Ray over Mary last week, only for Ray to withdraw anyway this week. No, there’s nothing technically illegal/against the rules about it, but like Tamar dipping out of season 21 the day after Alexa (who reeeeeally wanted to be there) got eliminated, it was just a bit of a d*ck move. Seems to me like Ray’s foot problems were not a recent thing, and I highly doubt they only just started giving him a lot of trouble in week 3.  Sure, one could probably argue that Ray would have probably ended up in the bottom 2 again this week (assuming he had actually danced), and probably wouldn’t have been saved over anyone except Lamar (and maybe a certain other marginal male celeb), but still…as much as I love Shad and getting to see glimpses of his progress in his dancing pursuits post-DWTS, I would have much rather seen a third week of Mary over two mediocre weeks of Ray and a week 3 dance performed by the champ from 4 seasons ago. Read more..

October 5, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 2: Power Rankings

**NOTE: This is atrociously late, but with good reason – I’m currently in Telluride, CO, for my only sister’s wedding.  Tuesday was a whirlwind of preparation, Wednesday was a ton of traveling (IND -> DFW, DFW -> Montrose, then a 90 min car ride from Montrose to the rental house in Telluride), and today was preparation of floral arrangements, the altar, makeup dry-runs, grocery shopping, etc. Did I also mention that I’m experiencing some lightweight altitude sickness and haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since Sunday? 😛 But it has been so very, very worth it to have this time with my family…and just marvel at how much bigger the glory of nature is than all of our minute, silly problems we focus on.  Seriously – staring at mountains is a religious experience.  Check out my IG story for more 😉

Oof. So the big reveal about the eliminations was (gasp!) a judges’ save, which many of us had already kind of predicted – but what I don’t think we could have seen coming was just how spectacularly WRONG the judges managed to get it on the first outing.  Sure, they were likely confronted with a real bottom two that none of us really saw coming (Mary and Ray), but judging from my gut reaction (and that of most of my Twitter timeline), the decision was a clear one: Mary should have been saved based on scores alone, and Ray should have been sent packing. That was the whole point of the judges’ save, right? To help them back up their own scoring and lessen the effect of any errant or contradictory audience voting? And yet when the chips were down, they went with the guy they cumulatively scored two points LOWER the first two weeks of the competition, muttering some phony baloney explanation about going with their head over their heart, blah blah blah. If this new power was meant to prevent another Bobby Bones from winning this season, the judges sure didn’t manage to give us any peace of mind with the way they chose to wield it this week. And notice that I said “judges” – because I’m fairly certain all three were in on the decision, and just offered up their votes in such a fashion that it gave the impression of being a nail biter: they knew all along that they wanted to keep Ray & Cheryl (because OG pro loyalty? Who knows), but they decided that Carrie Ann would vote to keep Mary & Brandon, and Bruno would vote to keep Ray & Cheryl, thus creating a tiebreaker which allowed Len the windbag to spew some grandiose nonsense before ultimately casting the deciding vote to keep Ray and Cheryl. Here I thought the viewers had poor judgement – perhaps I should be more worried about the judges and their newfound, rife-with-potential-for-abuse power this season.

Which brings me to my next concern: I think this whole “focus on content, score tough, be like Strictly!” strategy is resulting in a bit of an identity crisis for this show…because instead of the generally feel-good entertainment I’ve grown accustomed to, this show is now oddly…joyless. Len’s critiques alone just suck the air out of the room – I can watch a dance that is objectively pretty entertaining (like James’, regardless of what you thought of the content) and then feel completely deflated after listening to Len rip into it. If I’m feeling deflated as a viewer, I can only imagine how these celebs are feeling up there – or even the pros.  Len in particular feels oddly confrontational in all his critiques now – calling Emma “aggressive”? Making fun of Karamo’s shoes? Going in hard on Ally, who seemed like she was near tears the whole time? While we know Len has been known to get seriously cranky from time-to-time in previous seasons, he was never THIS mean-spirited THIS frequently. This doesn’t feel constructive – this feels like cruelty for cruelty’s sake. And that’s on top of the fact that that the choreo this season seems duller than ever before; I think one fraction of the pros are too scared to push boundaries and thus play it too safe (i.e. Jenna, Sasha), another fraction aren’t necessarily great choreographers regardless and are just doing whatever they want (i.e. Gleb, Val), another chunk of them don’t have much to work with and are just trying to keep it simple and doable for their partners (i.e. Lindsay, Peta, Brandon, Cheryl), and the last chunk are trying to strike a balance between playing by the rules and creating something entertaining (i.e. Emma, Pasha, Alan, Witney). Dare I say the costumes even seem a bit basic? The only two that stand out in my mind are Lamar’s head-to-toe invocation of the Jolly Green Giant, and Witney’s simple, see-thru lingerie-inspired samba dress (which was my fave of the night – I’d wear that in Vegas!) Overall, the vibe this season is just kinda bland and unhappy…if this is what Strictly is like on a regular basis, then I’m thankful that I don’t watch it.

Poor Mary – and really, poor Brandon. This is his second season as a pro, and the second season he’s had an unfairly early exit. Feels awfully similar to Keo’s initial seasons on the show, when it seemed like he just could NOT catch a break – only with Brandon, it feels like he’s already found his footing as a pro (whereas Keo had to learn how to teach, let alone how to teach a non-dancer) and is still getting screwed over…which makes it worse. Mary had such a great attitude about the show as well, and was a joy to watch…so I’m gonna miss these two. Bye bye, Mr. Steal Your Grandma…hope you have better luck next season (if there is one…)… Read more..

September 26, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28, Week 1: Power Rankings

So we wrapped up the premiere of the “new, improved!” DWTS a little over 24 hours ago, and I’ve got some mixed feelings. My main concern: in the wake of the disastrous year the show had in 2018, they’re currently trying to reinvent/rebrand the show to give ratings a boost and maintain a hope and a prayer of this show surviving into 2020.  The only problem? I feel like the rebranding involves just turning DWTS into Strictly Come Dancing 2.0.

Yes, they’re essentially the same show, in terms of the concept, aesthetic, etc. But Heidi and I have long been reminding people that comparing DWTS and SCD is a bit like apples and oranges, because the fact that the two shows air in completely different markets makes each take on slightly different flavors. Americans and Brits are two different cultures that have different tastes when it comes to television – I have yet to meet an American that understands the appeal of British soap operas (I can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep trying to watch the same god-forsaken episode of EastEnders in college because a girl in my dorm was from London and swore up and down that it was the greatest TV show ever), while I’ve heard more than one Brit puzzle about why American television is so violence-driven (same girl in my dorm was CONVINCED we all carried guns on our person because she had watched 24 before coming to college). And there’s obvious differences between our humor, with British humor being quite a bit drier and high brow than more crass, slapstick American humor. Given all those differences – would it be a stretch to assume that  Americans expect different things out of DWTS than Brits do out of SCD?

With respect to DWTS and what I’ve observed in my 10 years of blogging, I tend to think Americans care less about how many syllabus steps a routine has and care more about being entertained and wowed by a memorable dance. I know SCD is more driven by syllabus content and correct execution of the steps, and low-scoring of non-compliant routine is more commonplace than it is here in the US, where it’s unusual to see any paddle lower than a “6” taken out after week 1. So for things to shift rather suddenly from the DWTS focus on entertaining and memorable dance numbers to a more content-driven approach from the judges, I have to wonder: is this sh*t gonna fly…? Some of the best choreographers we’ve seen on DWTS are the ones that really thrive when they’re unfettered by syllabus  requirements – think Derek, Mark, and Julianne, who all ended up Emmy nominated at some point as a result. We’ve still got a few pros in the current stable that I think choreograph best in a more out-of-the-box setting – namely Jenna, and possibly Brandon. Then again, with the prospect of an Emmy nom a distant memory since the departure of Derek and the onslaught of more competition in the Outstanding Choreograhy category…maybe it’s time to start focusing more on content? I honestly don’t know – but I’m not sure the answer to all of DWTS’ problems is just tweaking everything to match SCD. Time will tell, especially after we hear about this new elimination twist next week…

One good thing to come out of the “let’s do it like SCD!” gambit? The delayed reveal of the partnerships left us more  likely to get unexpectedly WOWED by some of the contestants – and I daresay with all the chatter about Hannah, Karamo, Kel, and Sailor, I did NOT see James coming at all. I was genuinely and delightedly surprised, which was nice. I also didn’t head into this season with a favorite – there were a few contestants/partnerships I found intriguing, but nobody that I knew from the jump I’d be voting for…so I felt like I was seeing everything with fresh eyes. But shall we get on with the rankings?  🙂 Read more..

September 17, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog