Why the 'Dancing with the Stars' Judges Are Ruining Season 18
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
There have been many changes to Dancing with the Stars
in season 18. The band is smaller, there's a new co-host and the
partners were switched up for a week. But not all changes are good.
This season, more than in the past, the judging has been highly suspect. Whether it's favoritism or unqualified guest judges, the scores for DWTS season 18 have been puzzling and a distraction from the enjoyment of the high quality of dancing this year.
Here's a look at several problems with the judging in DWTS season 18 and why It's hurting the show.
Too Many Guest Judges
In the past, guest judges were rare and special, and they usually came with reasonable dance credentials. This season, however, there's a new guest judge every week, and most of them have no business being judges on DWTS.
Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts, DWTS season 9 winner Donny Osmond and LMFAO's RedFoo have all served as guest judges this season and all three proudly announced their total lack of expertise when it comes to dance technique. This is unacceptable.
The purpose of the judges is to provide scores based on the technical merit of the stars, something the average viewer can't accurately do. I know I can't do it because I don't have the training or experience of Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. The judges' half of the scoring system should be based on technique, while the viewer vote half is based on personality and entertainment value.
The guest judges this season are basing their scores on entertainment, not skill, which defeats the whole purpose of having expert judges who give scores that factor into the results. As much as I may fear and loathe the thought of Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller as a future guest judge, at least she will know what the heck she's talking about when it comes to dancing.
Giving a 10 should be a sacred thing, but this season the judges are handing them out like fun-size Milky Way bars on Halloween. There are some instances where 10s are debatable yet understandable, but then there are cases where 10s are just plain wrong.
In week 5, Len Goodman gave a 10 to Charlie White despite the fact that Charlie dropped his cane and had to scramble to retrieve it during the routine. In week 6, Bruno Tonioli and RedFoo both gave 10s to Amy Purdy despite an obvious slip-up in the middle that both Len and Carrie Ann pointed out.
You can complain that maybe James Maslow didn't deserve 10s for his Contemporary routine in week 5, but the judges could at least make a reasonable case for those scores. With Charlie and Amy, however, there were obvious mistakes that should automatically eliminate the possibility of a 10. If you mess something up, and everyone sees it, there's absolutely no way that a 10 should be handed out.
The Amy Purdy Situation
In every season there are instances of certain stars or pros being underscored or overscored by the judges. But in season 18, the disparity is particularly obvious in the case of Amy Purdy.
The fact that she's a double amputee makes her a unique case. She's arguably the most inspirational star to ever compete on DWTS, even moreso than Valerie Harper. The fact that she can do what she does is nothing short of a miracle. But that inspiration seems to cloud the judges' ability to critique her honestly.
After her very first dance of the season, head judge Len Goodman made a simple statement. "Let's clear one thing up to start with, Amy. We can't judge you any different to any other star on the show and I think that's how you'd like it. It's all about the dancing." But those words have not stayed true.
Nowhere was that more obvious than in Amy's week 5 Waltz when Carrie Ann began the commentary by saying "The bad news is you know I always call lifts, and I saw some lifts. But I cannot take off a point from you for doing a lift because of your unique circumstance and I think that it was something to make up for the things that you can't do for content."
As a human being I sympathize, but as a fan of fairness, Carrie Ann's words made me angry. Not only did she admit that Amy is being judged different from the other stars (something Len specifically said they wouldn't do), but she also confirmed that there is technical content that Amy can't do.
I'm not saying that this point of view isn't understandable or even reasonable, but it's certainly not fair. It defeats the entire purpose of having judges' scores if they aren't going to apply the same standards to every contestant.
Dancing with the Stars has already seen a steep decline in the ratings and in its popularity in recent years, leading to the show being trimmed down to just one night per week. But if the judges continue to give laughable scores and if the show insists on bringing in completely unqualified guest judges, that decline will only accelerate.
Do you think the judging in DWTS season 18 is particularly bad and ruining the season? Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)