Dancing with the Stars delivered some of its most shocking results ever, when Glee star Heather Morris was eliminated from Week 6 of Season 24, along with her pro dance partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The result was immediately met with controversy in the ballroom, as the crowd began jeering the elimination announcement.
With another Dancing with the Stars results show shocker, the question has to be asked. Is it time for an overhaul?
While Heather Morris’ elimination was shocking, it was also a case of déjà vu. As Morris’ fate is the not the first to justifiably draw the ire of fans. Dancing with the Stars results have been met with criticism before, as worthy opponents were similarly eliminated.
Among the many examples, there was the notable elimination of singer/actress Sabrina Bryan, who was also eliminated in Week 6 of the competition during Season 5’s Dancing with the Stars results show. That result was met with similar objections. Both Morris and Bryan had previous dance experience, and many have blamed talented stars’ eliminations on their having a dance background.
If having previous dance experience is going to be an issue. why does Dancing with the Stars allow a contestant who has any to compete in the first place? Why not ban anyone with previous dance experience from competing? It would make for a more level field of talent and keep any obvious talents from making it anywhere in the competition. The roster could then be filled with amateurs.
Should there be no more stars on Dancing with the Stars?
In truth, it is next to impossible to find a star that has positively zero dance experience, which is why the show could definitely consider changing the format of the show. Instead of having stars dance with professional dancers, everyday citizens could campaign online and be selected to compete and dance with the stars of the ABC hit.
Maybe then, there could be a general consensus about the inherent nature of the show. There seems to be a divide between those in the Dancing with the Stars fandom about what the purpose of the show actually is. Is it to find the best dancer, the most popular one, or the most improved one?
— Dancing with the Stars (@DancingABC) April 27, 2017
For some, Dancing with the Stars is a popularity contest in which the mirror ball trophy is awarded to the charismatic contestant who grows the most, talent-wise. For others, determining the victor is about voting for the best dancer.
Where does Dancing with the Stars side on the matter?
Personally, the former’s perspective appears to be the way Dancing with the Stars operates as a show. The evidence for that is in how easy it would be for the show to implement stricter standards on the technical level of the dances. If it was interested in trying to find the best dancer, there are ways to make that happen.
There are ways to close the gap between judges’ scores, and viewer votes. For instance, eliminating the issue that arises when choreography is penalized for including lifts in dances they are not allowed in. That verdict penalizes a celebrity contestant for what their professional counterpart choreographs, a decision the celebrity appears to have no control over and is punished for regardless.
The disparity among the judges’ panel leads to TV fireworks, yet inconsistent judging. Each judge has a different baseline for their verdict and no clear consensus on a consistent judging criterion.
The technical side of Dancing with the Stars.
If Dancing with the Stars was interested in finding the best dancer they could split the judges’ scores into two assessment levels – technical skill and performance quality. This is a similar measurement used to judge competitive figure skating.
Since contestants practice their dances in dress rehearsals, it would be effortless to allow the judges to pre-screen each dance. The head judge could then grade the maximum points that dance routine would achieve if performed to its fullest potential.
— heather (@HeatherMorrisTV) March 20, 2017
The difficulty of each dance would then be graded. If a Dancing with the Stars contestant can only perform a dance with the difficulty level of a 5 out of 10, then they should theoretically only be able to score a five-point technical score.
Rewarding contestants for their performance ability is where the other half of the score would come in. That is what you would see the judges sparring over. Acknowledging there are contestants who have technical abilities that exceed their performance level, and vice versa, can be done.
Tightening the consistency of Dancing with the Stars judging.
If Dancing with the Stars viewers are only watching to see dancing ingénues develop their ballroom skills, why are there any contestants allowed who break that rule?
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Dancing with the Stars‘ executive producers were asked to address concerns raised on social media by fans, who believed Heather Morris had an “unfair advantage” coming on to the show, Edens replied with the following statement.
“We’re not shying away from the fact that she 100 percent has dance experience. Because of that, she will be judged on a higher level and there will be higher expectations on her.”
Since that is the case, a contestant like Heather Morris is not being judged on the same level as her fellow contestants. She is being held to a higher standard, her fellow contestants are not. To set the judging like this creates another theoretical problem.
Why is it okay to sanction the scores of a contestant who can perform at a high level? Scrutinizing Morris more closely and ignoring the flaws of her fellow contestants just creates more issues. Contestants like Morris are basically being punished for being good dancers.
Dancing with the Stars paradox.
When a celebrity performs on Dancing with the Stars despite injury, the judges always stipulate they have to judge what they see and not factor the star’s injury into the score. Why do the rules make them ignore an injury’s role in a lackluster performance, yet consider the role previous dance experience might play in someone else’s ability to positively perform?
Dancing with the Stars is a popularity contest.
The winner of Dancing with the Stars is supposed to be determined by 50 percent of the judges’ scores and the other 50 percent by viewer votes. As Blog Maverick explains, viewer votes take on greater prominence as the contest endures. With a judging system that makes consistency impossible, viewers are less likely to fare any better.
While everyone has focused on a contestants previous dance experience, no one seems to be concerned over the advantage of a star’s pre-existing notoriety. A star’s previously established popularity potentially plays into the feelings viewers might have towards a contestant. An advantage few seem as bothered by, in comparison, to someone having pre-existing dance skills.
Dancing with the Stars in summation
It is clear the judging standards could be stricter. If the show wanted to help curb the repeated error of sending home worthy dancers, there are ways to make it happen.
In truth, it is impossible to create an absolutely level playing field for Dancing with the Stars contestants. There are stars that are more popular going into the competition, and there are those who have more dancing and performing experience.
It is time for Dancing with the Stars to only judge what it sees without acknowledging any collateral information. That is the only way the can provide a fair ballroom.
It would be great if Heather Morris was the last victim of elimination results shocker. But unless things change, she will just be another in a long line. Find out what the Dancing with the Stars results are from next week when Season 24 continues airing Mondays starting at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.
[Featured Image by Craig Sjodin/ABC]