'Who's That?': A Regular Person Reacts to the New 'Dancing with the Stars' Cast
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
When you watch TV for a living, it's easy to get TV-shaped tunnel-vision when it comes to what, and who, is considered "important" or "popular." While it seems easier than ever to become famous for doing little or nothing, the flip side seems to be that it's also harder to become a "star" in the traditional sense of everyone knowing who you are. When can you say you've "made it" now? When you land a niche reality show on an obscure cable network? When you marry a famous athlete? When you reach a million Twitter followers and self-release a dance club single?

No show calls starker attention to this weird little development in redefining "stardom" than Dancing with the Stars, as every season the cast announcement comes out, and, like clockwork, a bunch of us react with a chorus of whos? and hers? and huhs? One question always comes up: Should it be called Dancing with the Stars if we spend a good chunk of the first episode learning who some of these people are?

The DWTS season 12 cast announcement came out on Monday, and I knew all but two of the names, which didn't seem so bad. But I had a feeling I was in the minority (and maybe ought to be?), so I consulted my friend Eric, who is a developer for BuddyTV and also happens to be one of the least pop-culturally educated people I know, despite owning an iPhone, TV and computer and not being born Amish. He's also a youngish dude: Not exactly DWTS's target demo. I figured if he knows who these people are, they're probably stars. So I tested him because I thought it'd be interesting, but mostly because I thought it'd be funny. Because when it comes to knowing Earth's "stars," Eric's practically an alien. 

Let the experiment begin!

Meghan: OK, here's what we are gonna do. I'm going to tell you a name, and you tell me if you know who that is, or who you think it is. We are investigating who is a "star" in your weird, sheltered mind. If you don't know who it is, don't Google. Just guess.

Eric: OK.

Meghan: Here we go: Sugar Ray Leonard.

Eric: Boxer. I've got this if its all sports-related famous people!

Meghan: Too bad, it's not. Chelsea Kane.

Eric: No idea, but, guessing, I'd say "Late Night with Chelsea" or whatever that show on E! is.

Meghan: Nope. Not even. OK, next: Romeo.

Eric: Musician?

Meghan: Be more specific, please.

Eric: A rapper.

Meghan: Do you actually know who he is, or are you just guessing that based on his name?

Eric: I am guessing purely on his name. And I've heard mutterings of said name but have never really paid attention.

Meghan: OK, next. You better get this one! Ralph Macchio.


Meghan: YEEEEAH!

Eric: Will you print that in all caps please?

Meghan: Yes. Will you watch the Karate Kid on Dancing with the Stars?

Eric: No way. It would ruin my memory of him. Watching the new Karate Kid [starring Jaden Smith!!!] this past week was bad enough. I wouldn't do that to Ralph. Although if he did the crane kick ...

Meghan: Do you lose respect for him knowing that he is going to be on the show, then?

Eric: Not if if there was the crane kick.

Meghan: Fair enough. next! Petra Nemcova.

Eric: Ummmm a model? It sounds like a model.

Meghan: It sounds like you've seen her rack before?

Eric: Fo' sure.

Meghan: Good memory. Next: Kendra Wilkinson.

Eric: Nope, nothing, nada.

Meghan: Nothing at all?

Eric: No. I am laughing though. I feel I should know these. I fail at pop culture.

Meghan: Yes you do. Next! Hines Ward.

Football player for Pittsburgh Steelers. WR, to be exact.

Meghan: You are such a dude. Next: Mike Catherwood.

Eric: TV star or country singer. Could be the next Toby!

Meghan: Toby as in Toby Keith?

Eric: Yes.

Meghan: Haha, nice. Not even close, but nice. OK. Wendy Williams.

Eric: This is getting hard. Throw me a bone. I really have no idea who she might be. ... Soap opera actress?

Meghan: Nooope. You'll get this one, Midwestern kid: Chris Jericho.

Eric: Is it the Wrestler? Isn't there a Jericho on wrestling? ... Do wrestlers count as stars?

Meghan: Haha, perfect. And, to answer your question, maybe? Last one: Kirstie Alley.

Look Who's Talking! Look Who's Talking Too! And the one with pets!

Eric (reminisces while I count his score): Man, she used to be hot. Pretty sure I had a crush on her when I was 8 or 9.

Unfortunately I don't think you'll have the same reaction if you watch her on DWTS.

He did better than I thought he would: Seven out of 11 (although he was only confident about four of them). So I guess Dancing with the Stars is pulling a passing grade on the informal "star test" after all!

What about you: Did you know who all these people were when they were announced yesterday? And are you crossing your fingers for a Macchio crane kick?

Want more Dancing with the Stars info? Check out our DWTS Insider page on Facebook.

(Image courtesy of ABC)