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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Dancing with the Stars – Week 6

“She didn’t say he wasn’t Stalin.”

The judges and Maks clash over things said about the couple's dance.

You know it's bad when Tom Bergeron has to hold you back.


So often Len reminds me of Simon Cowell’s reality game show persona that the animosity toward him is unsurprising. While Len is more prone to letting himself look a fool on camera (that was him doing the Twist a couple weeks ago), he holds an authority rooted in something more than experience or wisdom. His austerity lends to a moral authority. The reviews he plunks upon the dancers feels heavier and, as if his tacit sad or gleeful eyes weren’t enough reason for a dancer’s devastation or elation, then a turn of phrase in his matter-of-fact delivery is enough to either crush a person or send them soaring. I’m new to the show but I’m surprised an angry outburst from a celebrity or dancer hasn’t occurred sooner.

You may see my bias showing but, of the remaining couples, Hope Solo has certainly been the most put upon. Each week she may have a middling showing but is ripped apart by the judges (even if the scores are as middling as her dances). While Chaz and Nancy get pats on their shoulders while the judges say, “There, there — at least you’re trying!” to dry their tears, Hope has been called not sexy, not feminine, clumsy, too muscly, stiff (one week), willowy (another), all while each judge concludes that she’s a good dancer but isn’t putting in the effort or just isn’t showing on the floor. Last week, it broke the normally smarmy fa├žade of the world’s number one goalkeeper and this week it broke her partner.

Now, I’ve made it no secret that I think these two are shagging on every flat surface they can find (horizontal or vertical — have you seen the legs on these two?) but the rush to her defense wasn’t just lover or friend but a partner that has a fair share in this. This week’s sorry performance may have been just as much choreography as it was a weak showing but Maks got UNLEASHED. He said some stupid things, like telling the judges they’re being too judgmental (what?) and that he helped build this show, moreover that it was his show. This is a guy that definitely feels like his team needs defending and is being unjustly attacked (no one’s telling Nancy Grace that she moves like someone with vertigo).

Is Hope’s athleticism and the body formed from playing her sport at such a high level holding her back in this competition? It does feel like those things are often the source of attack by the judges, specifically the male ones (in fact, Carrie Ann has taken it upon herself often to recoup damage done by her peers by making it a point to call her “beautiful” and take note of her great lines). Or are the judges harsh on the raised expectations for this couple because she’s an athlete in a sport famous for footwork? This was the couple that was trotted around to all the talk shows before this cycle started. It would be unfortunate if they didn’t get another week, if they fell out before Chaz and Nancy, because Maks shot his mouth off about building this show. Here’s hoping the voters don’t think the couple doesn’t think too highly of itself to continue and helps them move on despite Cher Power.

It’s Broadway week on Dancing with the Stars and I learned that it’s called the Great White Way. Which sounds vaguely racist. Let’s get through these couples.

Rob Kardashian (“Walk Like a Man” from Jersey Boys): How much did Lamar Odom look like he was dragged there against his will? I was dragged through Shemp’s dance against my will. Despite such good numbers last week and a desire to “kick butt,” the dance didn’t really have any flair and excitement to it. Pretty basic. Judges said as much. I just yawned typing this.

Nancy Grace (“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Spamalot): Despite some rhetoric in the pre-dance video about going down swinging, Nancy comes out with a fun little number that her partner dances most of while she kind of hides behind his performance. Bruno mostly complimented everything Nancy had no control over while Len liked the personality but not the technique. And then there was Carrie Ann. Is she on the take? Because a 9 to that performance is preposterous. That’s all payola. On top of that, Nancy’s still kind of a jackass to her partner despite (sometimes literally) carrying her the entire competition.

David Arquette (“We Go Together” from Grease): Timing was all off, it was unimpressive and a little sloppy. They looked way better in rehearsal but Arquette probably felt nervous dancing in front of his wife with a woman he clearly wants to bone. He also had the sorry luck to draw the same dance as Ricki and JR. That poor man.

Ricki Lake (“Luck Be a Lady Tonight” from Guys and Dolls): Not surprisingly, Arquette was blown out of the water by Ricki and Derek doing a quick step so perfectly I wasn’t sure how anyone could do it better. It was exciting, well-timed, impressive in areas, and strong of technique. Fun for all the judges. Carrie Ann gave a Tony. I don’t think she has the authority though. So she also gave them a 10 (along with Bruno) just in case.

Chaz Bono (“Phantom of the Opera” from Phantom of the Opera): Okay, so the guy does work really hard at trying to keep his head above water but it seems like such a chore for him to do the simple things other contestants have been doing for weeks. This week was certainly a step forward but he still looked awful. I’m so glad someone else called him a penguin. Because it’s true. Dude straight up waddles and shuffles through his routines. This dance deserved the lowest score of the night despite Chaz’s look of shock. Each of the judges grilled him and it’s about time. Training wheels have to come off sometime, son.

Hope Solo (“Seasons of Love” from Rent): Like I said before, Hope has been punished this entire competition. Even in the pre-dance video, her partner told her that everyone, including him, is losing faith. The one time she gets to wear normally clothing and she turns out her worst performance. Is it all on her? I don’t think so. Some of it was choreography. Some of it was Hope overcompensating and forcing moves. Maks didn’t need to cry about it though. Wrong move. America likes sure people but not haughty ones. With their score, that might be what knocks them out of the competition.

JR Martinez (“Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago): Remember when I was like, “Oh, how could you do a quick step better than Ricki and Derek did?” This is how. JR is playing out of his mind right now. It makes the controversy with Maks look petty because, let’s face it, unless she gets tapped by Terpsichore herself in the next week and 1950s Gene Kelly materializes to be her partner, Hope doesn’t have hope to make it into the top two. Maybe top three if she’s lucky. I still maintain this is JR’s competition to lose and he’s killing it in all three phases. I don’t know what those phases would be. Sometimes I pretend this is football.

Group Dance: Basically a showcase to remind you who is good at dancing and who is the worst. They were trying to sell it as a moment of unpredictability for some of the dancers, particularly since the judges wouldn’t be scoring. Nothing exciting happened. See “One Thing I Didn’t Like” below.

One Thing I Liked: Carson’s continued involvement in the show. The guy’s just adorable. Is it a coincidence that the week after his exit we get some flared tempers?

One Thing I Didn’t Like: This has been a “thing I didn’t like” before but I’m not a fan of the filler. I understand I’m probably alone in this. People that are into this show want to see all kinds of dancing, whether it’s an extended number from the cast of a Broadway musical or a medley performed by Kristin Chenoweth looking like the Bride of Skeletor. Ratings may be dipping but they sell a lot of ad space so expanding the show to it’s breaking point is just good business sense. Chenoweth’s suggestion that this show is “old school” entertainment is noted (if flawed) and it does a decent job of providing content to satisfy an audience and to keep the network happy. I just like more efficient storytelling.

And One Thing I Still Don’t Understand: How are the songs and dances distributed? Are they chosen at the beginning before the cycle starts? Are they given to the dancers at the beginning of every week? Do the dancers choose? Not that this is the only reason I ask but it seems awfully convenient that JR didn’t get “Phantom of the Opera” and Chaz didn’t get “Walk Like a Man.” I’m just sayin’. Educate me if you know.

I saw, in my mind’s eye, so many families, after Maks shot his mouth off, taking the commercial break to discuss who Hope Solo and this joker dancing with her think they are. I was SURE Hope was toast. The politics of this game and the connection (or distance) stars have with their audience often undermine the meritocracy and, after Nancy stuck around, I just knew the smarmy athlete from a sport often maligned in this country, if not completely forgotten, was on the outs.

But, as it turned out, America turned on the penguin. The pre-dance video and the judges later established that THIS IS WEEK 6 YOU HAVE TO BRING IT. And Chaz couldn’t bring it if it was strapped to him and he was pulled by a rope. Interesting, though, that after being lauded week after week for sub-par performances, his first taste of being held to a higher standard and having his looks poked at made him furious. On the verge of cursing on a Disney-owned network furious. Hope has her sexual identity denied for weeks and Chaz can’t take a single penguin crack. To be fair, he might be a little more sensitive to being deprived of masculinity than others. Either way, it’s an elimination that needed to be made long ago.

Next week is Halloween. Who’s dancing to “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah?”

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