Paula Abdul Judging Debut: ‘SYTYCD’ Brings ‘American Idol’ Judge Back To Reality TV, Was She A Hit?

Season 12 of So You Think You Can Dance premiered Monday night, and Paula Abdul’s judging debut has generated a fair amount of buzz. The singer, dancer, and former American Idol judge has guest judged on SYTYCD before, but this season she’s a permanent fixture. How did the premiere go?

As Us Magazine shares, Season 12 is incorporating some pretty significant changes to the So You Think You Can Dance format. Long-time judge Mary Murphy is out, and both Jason Derulo and Paula Abdul debuted as judges in the premiere. Both have been involved in the show in the past, but now it’s Nigel Lythgoe, Paula, and Jason doing the judging for the full season.

Another big change for this season is the focus on two teams competing for the SYTYCD winner title. There will be a street team, led by former contestant Stephen “tWitch” Boss, as well as a stage team led by former contestant Travis Wall. Both Travis and tWitch are long-time fan favorites, so having them on-hand for much of the season should be a hit.

Team Stage will snag the dancers with a background in traditional genres such as ballet, jazz, contemporary, and tap. Team Street will feature the dancers coming in with break dancing, animation, and hip hop experience. A dancer from each team will go home each week, and the finale will showcase two dancers from each team.

In a departure from previous seasons, the teams and eliminations won’t focus on maintaining a gender balance, which some think is a great move for the show as it should provide an opportunity to keep the best dancers on each team, not the best dancers of a specific gender.

Based on early fan feedback, Paula Abdul’s judging debut was mostly a success. Her typical style that everybody saw on American Idol also seems to be present here, and viewers seem to either love it or hate it. As TVLine notes, however, the jury may still be out on Jason Derulo’s presence. While Abdul was a fairly natural choice for this season of SYTYCD, not everybody feels the same way about Jason.

While the judging team may be getting a lot of attention right now, what fans tune in for are the dancers. How is Season 12 shaping up so far? Monday’s premiere focused on the auditions that took place in Dallas, Texas, and Memphis, Tennessee. Though it’ll be a bit before viewers get to see the final Team Street and Team Stage crews, early standouts seem to include Edson Juarez, Andre Rucker, Courtney Barnes, and Lily Leyva.

Will the Season 12 SYTYCD winner be from Travis’ Team Stage or from tWitch’s Team Street? Will Jason Derulo and Paula Abdul’s judging debuts pave the way for a fun season of great dance and entertainment or leave fans wanting more?

[Photo by Robert Prezioso / Getty Images]