'Dancing with the Stars' Switch Up Twist: Good Idea or Bad Idea?
'Dancing with the Stars' Switch Up Twist: Good Idea or Bad Idea?
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
There are many changes coming for Dancing with the Stars in season 18. Erin Andrews will replace Brooke Burke-Charvet as co-host, the Harold Wheeler Orchestra was fired in favor of a smaller band and more prerecorded music, and now comes the biggest twist of all: the Switch Up.

When the new cast for season 18 was announced (a cast that includes notable ringers like Olympic gold medalist Ice Dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis), the new twist was also revealed. At some point during the season, the Switch Up will go into effect and all of the remaining stars will get new pro partners, as chosen by America's votes. This changes everything, but is it a good idea? Here are the two arguments.

Why the Switch Up Is Good

For years my biggest complaint about DWTS has been that it's more about the pros than the stars. Would Amber Riley have won season 17 if she didn't have Derek Hough as a partner? This twist seems like a way to address that complaint. By not having permanent partners all season, it makes the competition more about the stars themselves and not who they're paired with.

I appreciate that change, though I'll be curious to see how it works out. I can easily imagine a scenario where Derek's original partner, Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy, is safe, but then gets eliminated as soon as she loses Derek as a partner. Will changing partners hurt some stars' chances and help others'?

If DWTS is really interested in making it all about the stars, why not rotate pro partners every single week? Then it would really be about them and not who their partner is.

Why the Switch Up Is Bad

Though the Switch Up is interesting in theory, it's fundamentally flawed because it will eliminate one of the best parts of DWTS: watching the partnerships grow. Just look at last season for examples. There was the sweet father/daughter bond of Bill Engvall and Emma Slater, the emotional support of Cheryl Burke for Jack Osbourne, the trust and mutual respect earned between Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff and the sexual chemistry of Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd.

That's one of the main reasons viewers tune in, to watch the relationships between these stars and their pro partners who they spend almost every waking hour with. Strong bonds are forged and it makes the finale even more special because of the journey they've been on together.

The Switch Up gets rid of that important aspect of the show and, in theory, it will make the second half of the season a bit worse because the dancers will need to build up their chemistry instead of being able to use all of the tools they've already learned. Maybe Tony Dovolani and Mark Ballas have different teaching styles, so it would be like starting from scratch.
 

The Switch Up twist feels like a cheap gimmick to try and make DWTS more interesting as the ratings decline. It also feels like a desperate attempt to jump onto this social media bandwagon, making the viewers feel even more involved in the show by deciding more than just who goes home.

I definitely think DWTS needs to change things up a bit to stay fresh and avoid Derek Hough's totalitarian rule over the ballroom, but I'm not sure the Switch Up is the right way to go.


(Image courtesy of ABC)

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