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Scott D. Pierce: 'Dancing With the Stars' is not a real contest, so calm down

Published March 17, 2017 9:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There's yet another fake controversy involving "Dancing With the Stars" — which, of course, ABC hopes will help pump up the ratings.

The controversy? Heather Morris is one of the contestants in the new season, which begins Monday at 7 p.m. on Ch. 4. And Morris, best known as Brittany on "Glee," is a professional dancer.

So, the argument goes, it's an unfair advantage.

That might be true if "Dancing With the Stars" were a legitimate competition. But it's not. It never has been. It's a popularity contest.

Do you really think Donny Osmond, Amber Riley, Jennifer Grey and others were the most talented dancers on the show when they won? C'mon!

This show has had more than its share of fake controversy. When Kelly Monaco beat John O'Hurley to win on Season 1, some fans lost their minds.

And there are umpteen examples of how this is entertainment, not competition:

• In Season 2, rapper Master P was a last-minute entry, substituting for his injured son, Lil' Romeo. Not only was Master P unprepared, but he appeared to make no effort — and he wasn't eliminated until the fourth episode.

• In Season 3, Jerry Springer was eliminated sixth, despite having no talent and getting the lowest scores from the judges — because radio hosts Opie and Anthony urged listeners to vote for Springer to screw with the show.

• There were cries of "Unfair!" in Season 19 because winner Alfonso Ribeiro had starred in "The Tap Dance Kid" on Broadway.

• In Season 11, Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol made it all the way to the finals despite less-than-stellar scores from the judges and a decided lack of talent — because her mother's devoted followers voted to keep her on the show.

• In Season 19, Julianne Hough (a two-time winner as a professional dancer) became a judge. Her brother, Derek, competed as a pro. No legitimate competition on Earth would have let that happen.

• To this day, there are those who believe that when Marie Osmond fainted in Season 5, it was a ploy for sympathy and votes.

Hey, I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories. And I'm not saying that the contestants don't put forth plenty of effort.

But it doesn't matter that the show isn't fair because it's not a real competition.

Morris will be the most talented dancer on "Dancing" this season. Will she win? I don't know. Is she more popular than Simone Biles, Bonner Bolton, Charo, Rashad Jennings, Chris Kattan, David Ross, Erika Jayne, Nancy Kerrigan, Normani Kordei, Mr. T and Nick Viall? Because this is a popularity contest.

(By the way, if you know who all those people are, I'm amazed. And I'm a bit worried about you.)

It doesn't matter that "Dancing" is more about popularity than talent. If viewers like it, that's all that matters.

Just don't pretend otherwise. Don't get all bent out of shape about Morris "competing."

It's just a TV show. Calm down.

Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.






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