Election Day has come and, for the most part, gone. And now that the silly preliminaries have been taken care of, we can get down to the voting that actually matters.
Who will win “Dancing With The Stars”? Or, more to the point, who won’t receive the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy after grueling weeks of competition, glitter and spray tans? Because this year more than any other, television’s No. 1 show — and what does that say about us? — could find itself in the midst of a political controversy within its bright and shiny spin zone.
There are five contestants remaining on the fall season of DWTS, but all eyes are on just one of them … Bristol Palin, daughter or You-Know-Who and the least likely of those left twirling to win. Why do we say this? Because young Palin, and her pro partner Mark Balas, have found themselves bathed in the dreaded red spotlight of jeopardy consistently this season because of low scores from the judges … you know, the ones who actually know what ballroom dancing should look like.
But since viewer support counts for half the competitors’ scores, Bristol has survived while other more-worthy celebrity dancers (Rick Fox and, more unfairly, Adriana Patridge) have been shown the door. And yes, I hadn’t a clue who Adriana Patridge was until the season began … but she was clearly one of the top three dancers.
There’s no way to know how much of Bristol’s fan base stems from You-Know-Who’s popularity. However, despite her efforts with the tango, the samba and the waltz (not to mention a performance dressed in monkey costumes), there’s something going on here beyond fan voting for the best celebrity dancer.
A sidestep, here, if you will: It’s often said that DWTS brings in some celebrities who have either dance training or a musical background. This season, actress Jennifer Grey and pop star Brandy fit the profile of such “ringers.” But if you’re going to argue that they know the basics of dance, you can’t argue with the fact that they are at least “celebrities.”
Bristol Palin, meanwhile, who comes across on the screen as a very earnest worker with little natural dance ability, is famous because of You-Know-Who. The show’s not called Dancing With The Stars’ Relatives. (Of course, both Donnie and Marie have appeared — he actually won — but it’s hard to say which one these days would be the “star” and which the “relative.”)
There are millions of people out there in TV-viewing land who each watch DWTS and vote for who they think are the best dancers. And millions more of us who are married to those who are fans and have to deal with our loved ones’ disappointment when a dancer who deserved a better fate goes home.
Bristol Palin’s done a fine job on the show, hasn’t embarrassed herself and has reconstructed her public persona after years of being known as the most famous teen mother in America. But her time on the dance floor should be nearing its end. (Of those remaining, though, she really should outlast retired NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.)
Her winning DWTS wouldn’t be the worst travesty in competition reality shows this season. That dubious honor falls to Portland fashion designer Gretchen Jones, who inexplicably was named winner of “Project Runway” over the uniquely creative, talented and vastly more likeable Mondo Guerra of Denver. But every vote for Palin is a vote against peace in our time.
Well, at least it is in my house.