A reality show about competitive ballroom dancing sounded about as appealing as a cold sore at first, but with twelve seasons and millions of viewers under its belt, Dancing with The Stars is a veritable ratings juggernaut.
Since we can safely assume 90% of the general population doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Paso Double and of that same indifferent group, almost all most likely spontaneously convulse at the mere mention of “musicality”, there has to be some way to explain the broad appeal of DWTS.
Don’t scoff. 23 million people find the combination of glitz and kitsch compelling television. As Season Thirteen revs up and the usual mix of eye candy, train wrecks and quasi-celebrities get ready to prance across our screens and into our hearts, TSJ gets to the bottom of why it is ok to like Dancing with The Stars.
Cleavage and Crotch Shots
This one may seem like a no-brainer. Former Playmates, models, incredibly fit professional dancers and actresses with not much more on their resume than the ability to look smoking hot make up a large part of the cast of DWTS each season. For most of the season they are clad in different variations of what amounts to little more than a spangled loin cloth with glitter spray held together by a prayer. Ample cleavage and artificially tanned thighs abound.
While this obvious display of skin makes for tantalizing television, it’s the dance routines that really ratchet up the voyeur factor. With choreography that regularly involves rump shaking, high kicks and leg splits, every week is a veritable parade of crotch shots punctuated by the occasional wardrobe malfunction.
Notable Examples: The Season Three “Butt Slip” -Monique Coleman’s heel catches the fringe of her skirt and she kick ball changes her way to an impromptu plumber’s crack.
Spectacular Spills and Face Plants
Waiting for a wardrobe malfunction isn’t the only thing that keeps spectators glued to the set. Much like the way football fans (or crack smokers) anticipate the next hit, DWTS viewers look forward to watching the inevitable body slams and pratfalls that happen when people are pushed beyond their physical capabilities. While most of the slips and sidelining injuries happen during practice and are replayed on the highlight reel each week, occasionally television viewers are treated to a brutal spill during a live broadcast. And when is that not fun to watch?
Notable Example: Kirstie Alley snaps partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s femur during a Season Twelve performance.
Your Favorite Athlete in Almost Drag
Each season the Dancing with the Stars cast includes at least one or two celebrities from the macho world of sports. Athletes we are familiar with from the gridiron, basketball court and boxing ring compete on the dance floor with varying degrees of success. Some like three-time Super Bowl champion and Season Three Mirror Ball Trophy winner Emmitt Smith dazzled with their ability to bring it, while others like Evander Holyfield floundered.
But good or bad we can always look forward to seeing the goofy and emasculating costumes they are fitted with during the competition.
Notable Examples: Pittsburgh wide receiver and Season Twelve winner Hines Ward dressed as a drum majorette
The Stunt Casting
When it comes to reality shows there is nothing more important than casting. What would the Jersey Shore be without a Snookie or Situation leading the hijinks at the beach house? DWTS understands this and each season seems to bring together the perfect mix of contestants. The most important of course falls into the category of “get people talking” – and incredibly, each season they seem to one up themselves.
“I’m Heather Mills. I’ve got an artificial leg and there’s a good chance it could fall off,” maligned celebrity divorcee Mills told “Good Morning America” before her stint with DWTS.
How to top the possibility of a Mambo induced airborne prosthetic? Next season bring in fainting, emotional fragile doll collector Marie Osmond. Seriously. She fainted. On the air.
This season they’ve got a one two punch. Former prosecutor-turned-hack journalist Nancy Grace who popularized the curious moniker “Tot Mom” during her coverage of the Casey Anthony trial will get a chance to bring her personal brand of histrionics to the dance floor.
Stirring up boatloads of controversy even before the premiere, Chaz Bono is the first transgender to compete on DWTS. The 42-year-old, who was born Chasity Bono to celebrity parents Sonny and Cher, recently underwent a sex change. Chaz will be dancing in his newly minted male form with female partner Lacy Schwimmer. Angry commenters flood ABC’s message boards to declare their outrage over Bono’s inclusion on the celebrity dancing show – which sounds like a ratings bonanza.
Notable Examples: Celebrity Unwed Mother Bristol Palin, Professional Shrew Kate Gosselin
Tom Bergeron is really good at what he does. As far as reality show hosts go, Bergeron knows how to bring the snark without making us suffer through the unbearable smarm. Not just a talking head reading a teleprompter, Bergeron doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind. He’s not afraid to call the judges out if he thinks they are being unfair or inconsistent and doesn’t toe the line for the show’s producers. He famously bowed out of interviewing Chris Brown when the singer appeared as a musical guest during Season Twelve.
“I did tell the producers it may be to their advantage to not have me interview him because my natural tendency would be to say something,” Bergeron told Ryan Seacrest on the latter’s radio show. “Don’t put me in a position where you are asking me to not say something, because I really won’t do that.”
His quick wit and droll hosting style helps smooth the awkward transitions of nip slips, fainting celebrities and tears during the judging portion of the show.
Notable Example: Eight seasons of gaffs and goofs by co-host Samantha Harris and nary an eye roll.