What the hell is wrong with America? The top-rated show of the entire fall season so far is not “Pushing Daisies,” it is not “Chuck,” or “The Office,” or “30 Rock,” or even “Friday Night Lights” (all of which, actually, don’t even appear in the top 40 shows on network TV). No, what America loves beyond anything else, apparently, is to see washed-up celebrities, most of who weren’t much of a celebrity to begin with, shake their goddamn jazz hands and squeeze their fat asses into unflattering outfits for a chance at a second career that will most likely be as embarrassing and as straight-to-DVD as their first. Fuck all. Having slogged through too many seasons of “American Idol” to count before finally deciding to quit on it, there was no way I was going to allow myself to get sucked into another brain rot, and as it turns out, there wasn’t much need. Tuesday night’s finale was the first episode I’ve ever seen, and if that two-hour punch-in-the-testes was any indication of the series as a whole (and there is no reason to believe it was not), then I’d have sooner watched a program about anthropomorphic colostomy bags who spoke only in Lolcat than succumb to the wiles of “Dancing with the Stars,” a show seemingly designed for low-functioning people who think that “American Idol” is too highbrow for their tastes, what with the gay-friendly metrosexual host and all those lyrics. What kind of sick bastard watches, “DwtS”? I hoped to God there’s more to it than the prospect of catching a glimpse of Marie Osmond’s spillover, because otherwise, I may start rooting for End Times.
Oh, and Stars? My ass. Of the so-called celebrities this season, I’d heard of only a few: Marie Osmond, Mark Cuban (who is only a celebrity in assbag land), Jennie Garth (because I grew up in the 9os), Jayne Seymour (because I have a step-parent who watched CBS in the 90s) and Wayne Newton (because I’ve been to Vegas and he accosts everyone that steps off a plane there). Mel B, I understand, was a Spice Girl, but I wouldn’t have known that if not for the press coverage all (goddamn) week — judging from her appearance on the show, I can only assume she was Wackjob Spice. And for the highest-rated show on TV (besides “American Idol”), you’d think they could afford a better host than Tom Bergeron, heretofore best known for getting Bob Saget’s sloppy seconds on “American Funniest Home Videos,” and some lady co-host with enough teeth in her mouth to ensure that she’ll never have to fellate her husband.
Now, granted, I haven’t watched the entire season (or any episode, ever), but watching recaps of the dance routines put on by these pseudo-celebrities, I can only suspect that the train-crash factor is the show’s big appeal, and judging from the performances I witnessed, four Acela Expresses just collided in downtown Shanghai, and the strewn body count is in the thousands. For fuck’s sake: How old is Marie Osmond, and who suggested to her that it was a good idea to dress up as a motherfucking kewpie tramp and spread her legs for the masses. The best I can surmise, from news reports, “Larry King,” clips, and the gossip blogs, was that she somehow manipulated the call-in voters’ sympathies by staging a seizure, force-feeding her son meth, and killing her own father, a strategy that got her as far as third place before she was knocked out by the powerhouse tandem of Wackjob Spice and some weird dude who drives a car in circles for a living.
What’s even more amazing to me is just how seriously these celebrities take the competition — they’re not even pretending that their “Dancing” appearance is not the first step in the hopeless career reclamation project. They mug, and spaz, and froth at the mouth more than amateur “Idol” contestants, whose previous claim to fame was third place in their high-school talent competition the time they clogged to Pearl Jam’s “Daughter.” You’d have never imagined that a contestant on “Dancing” was actually at one time in her life one-fifth of one of the most successful manufactured shit-pop bands of all time. And Marie? Good God, woman: I didn’t realize you could weep collagen. It’s amazing to me just how excited these hand-me down celebs are about humiliating themselves in front of millions. And to what end? Surely not pride, for they lost that the second they stepped onto the dance floor. For example, there’s a fucking outtake of the eventual winner of this show, some guy by the name of Helio, where he’s actually talking to his shoe — and from what I understand, this guys’ shoe-talking shtick was enough to curry romantic favor with his dance partner, for whom he dumped his fiancée only hours after the finale aired. It’s not the first “Dancing” hook-up / home-wrecking, either; clearly, sending your spouse to be on “Dancing with the Stars” is akin to going to junior-high band camp — a relationship simply can’t survive it.
There’s not even much to say about the three judges, none of whom I’ve ever heard, nor probably ever will, outside of the context of this show: They possess all the charm of a power stapler puncturing a thumb nail , the likability of loose stool, and the bite of Grampa Gums. But thank God the finale allowed enough air time for all of the season’s contestants to come back and dance again (save for Wayne Newton, who was held out under the show’s mercy rule). I mean: It’s just what I need, you know? To see Mark Cuban’s tang-O face, the busty blonde’s (Sabrina?) shimmy-shimmy slosh; Jayne Seymour’s San Diego Chicken-like grace; some chiseled soap star’s Clark Kent porn; and Jennie Garth’s slut-strut/mamb-ho (actually, Garth was slightly winsome). And for the gentlemen dancers, a question: When did it become fashionable again not to button your goddamn shirt? And that Elvis pelvic thrust thing? Yeah: That’s only good if you’re trying to poke someone’s eye out. Otherwise, do yourself and your dance partner a favor: Keep your hips in line with your shoulders, k?
Lookit: I don’t claim to be a fan of dance, or even know much about it. But from what I do know about manufactured drama and televised popularity contests in general is that this show has about as much to do with dancing as “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” has to do with helping crippled, down-on-their-luck natural disaster victims, which is to say: They are thin facades with an abundance of filler material. That Helio Something-or-Another won the contest meant absolutely nothing; there are no stakes involved, here. The future for these faux-celebrities isn’t much different from the past decade or so, aside from an appearance the day after their boot on “The View,” where they can glad hand with Joy Behar. There no albums deals to be won; so far as I know, no charity to reap any of the winnings; and no television deals forthcoming — it looks like the biggest winner to ever come out of the series was Drew Lachey, who was afforded the opportunity to come back and do sideline reporting. In fact, the only thing that anyone wins, besides salt-on-the-wound of their faded star, is a Mirrorball Trophy, which is appropriate, I suppose, for so long as they are looking into it, someone will always look back. And that’s all they ever wanted, anyway.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.
"Dancing with the Stars" / Dustin Rowles
TV | November 30, 2007 | Comments ()