“Dancing with the Stars” Should Aim Higher with Its Pop Celebrities
Living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for four years has wreaked a little havoc on my TV viewing. Thankfully, enough networks here run U.S. series—in English, with Spanish subtitles—that I don’t have to miss most of my prime-time favorites, but I probably never would have watched “Two and a Half Men” (which I actually quite like) or “According to Jim” (gasp!) had I not, at one point, been desperate to hear English. Other shows, like my beloved daytime soaps and “Hot in Cleveland,” I have to watch on YouTube. I guess I’ll need to wait until my next New York City visit to once again see “Hot in Cleveland” star Betty White in all her full-screen glory in a first-run sitcom.
One popular U.S. show that doesn’t air in Buenos Aires that I don’t miss is “Dancing with the Stars.” I didn’t watch it regularly before I moved here, and even if I had stayed in the U.S., I doubt I ever would have. Pamela Anderson, Jane Seymour and a few others aside, the “stars” just don’t grab me—at least not enough to make it required viewing. Only once did I gasp with glee over an unexpected choice—Oscar- and Emmy-winner Cloris Leachman, who, ironically, had previously approached them and been denied twice—but in general, the lineups tend to be too heavy on sports and reality TV personalities (not my cups of tea) and has-beens I never really cared about.
The contestants for the upcoming 11th season, set to premiere Sept. 20 on ABC, were just announced, and they’ve inspired the requisite groaning on my part. The show is getting bigger, so why aren’t the stars? Aside from Florence Henderson, Margaret Cho and Baby from “Dirty Dancing” (Jennifer Grey—a moment of silence for Patrick Swayze, please), the cast of C- and D-listers do nothing for me. I don’t understand why anyone would care to see “stars” of “The Hills” (Audrina Partridge) and “Jersey Shore” (Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino) plunked from one reality show to another. Then there is Bristol Palin, someone who is famous because she’s a teenage single mom. Her participation merely highlights the sad fact that they probably couldn’t get her mom on board. The former U.S. vice-presidential candidate would have at least made the entire affair must-maybe-see rather than I-think-I’ll-pass.
This season, we’ve got two pop stars—Brandy and Michael Bolton—instead of one (last season, only Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger made the cut). I’ve never been a Bolton fan, and he hasn’t had a hit in more than a decade. I used to love Brandy back in the pre-Britney days when she and Monica were duking it out for America’s pop princess title. (Who would have guessed that Monica, always sort of the underdog, would be the one “still standing”—to quote the title of her latest album—on the charts?) But it’s been a while since the general population has cared about Brandy, which also was the case with such recent pop contestants as Mya, Macy Gray and Toni Braxton.
“Dancing with the Stars” is one of the most popular shows on TV—last season, it occasionally drew higher ratings than “American Idol”—and last season’s winner, Scherzinger, also happens to be a current hit-maker. That didn’t automatically make her a huge get, but it was good enough to make this season feel like a bit of a comedown. Naturally, the producers aren’t going to lure Madonna, Britney Spears or anyone else whose music could possibly be featured in an entire episode of “Glee,” but Drew Lachey from 98
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