After the veteran judge docked contestant Vernon Davis a full point for a “lift” after he danced a foxtrot with pro partner Peta Murgatroyd, she overlooked his opponent Jeannie Mai’s feet as they were lifted from the floor during her salsa with partner Brandon Armstrong.
Vernon and Peta ended up with a score of 17 points out of 30, while Jeannie and Brandon upped them with a total of 18 points from the judges.
In comments to an Instagram post that Carrie Ann shared on premiere night, seen here, fans were confused by her scoring on the star-studded episode, with some accusing her of playing favorites.
“Carrie Ann mercy me your scoring favoritism on episode 1?!” one viewer wrote. “The lift you didn’t dock a point for was far worse overall dancing than the couple you docked.”
“You docked one couple a point because ‘you don’t allow lifts.’ but then Jeannie Mai gets lifted several times?!” another asked.
Of course, viewers with extensive ballroom knowledge know Carrie Ann actually did follow the rules. She even explained it three years ago in a post on Facebook, which can be seen here. In a lengthy message to fans, Carrie Ann revealed it was decided “from day one” on the ABC show that there would be no lifts allowed for the proper ballroom and Latin dance styles, just like in a true dance competition.
The rule for the lifts was also incorporated to keep the playing field level for the older and less strong celebrity contestants who would perhaps be unable to pull off showy dances filled with tricks.
But the long-running ABC series expanded to include dance styles that include the Argentine tango, salsa, jazz, and contemporary — all dances where lifts are allowed.
“Lifts are still not allowed in Rumba, Cha Cha, Jive, Paso Doble, Samba, Tango, Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Fox Trot, or Quickstep because those are the rules for these styles,” Carrie Ann wrote.
Even with the rules explained, some viewers may continue to feel the judge plays favorites. In other comments on her social media post, some accused her of favoring certain pro dancers and underscoring others simply because she doesn’t like them.
One viewer wrote that Carrie Ann critiques her ex-boyfriend Artem Chigvintsev especially harshly because she holds a “grudge” against him. It should be noted Artem was one of the highest-scoring dancers this week alongside his celebrity partner, Kaitlyn Bristowe.