Dancing With the Stars is undergoing some major changes next season.
All has not yet been revealed, but so far we know that Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews are out, while Tyra Banks is in. She's not only hosting but also executive producing, along with new executive producer Andrew Llinares.
Bergeron and Andrews were ushered out with a statement from ABC and BBC Studios that said the show was embarking "on a new creative direction," and Banks said the show will definitely be changing.
"OK, let's just keep this real: It is going to be so next level," she said during an appearance on Good Morning America. "We're doing all this crazy stuff, taking it into the next level, but still keeping the stuff that we know America loves. But you need to get ready because it's going to be different."
What we don't yet know is what "different" and "next level" actually mean, other than Banks shaking things up as the host. But there are quite a things we can hope for as viewers of the show (that don't have to do with the fact that it seems unlikely that this show could safely begin production amidst the pandemic).
A New Voting/Scoring System
We've talked about this before, but the way viewer voting currently works makes absolutely no sense. Voting opens at the beginning of the live show and ends right after the final dance. Judges' scores are converted to a share (a percentage of the total score the judges gave out that night) and added to the percentage of viewer votes each couple received, and that determines the bottom two dancers.
If anyone is expecting us to believe we're actually voting for any dances here, there's a lot wrong with that. First of all, it's only live on East Coast time, meaning only East Coast viewers can actually vote for the dances they've seen. But if any of us are actually voting for dances we've seen, then whoever dances last is at a serious disadvantage to whoever dances first, even for East Coast viewers.
If we're not really supposed to vote for the dances, it's just a celebrity popularity contest, and the dancing doesn't even matter.
This problem was slightly helped with one change last season, where votes determined the bottom two, and then the judges decided who got sent home from those bottom two. But voting still determines the bottom two, and if two of the better dancers get the fewest votes, the judges can't do anything about it. It just makes one wonder what the point of the voting is supposed to be.
Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli have been judges since day one, though they've all taken short amounts of time off. Their comments have become predictable to the point where the dances have had to become predictable. Len Goodman criticizes the pros for getting too creative with the choreography, and Carrie Ann Inaba is miiltant about the "no lifts" rule, out of fairness concerns for the contestants who can't do lifts. (We'll talk about those contestants in a minute.)
It all leads to most dances looking pretty much the same. If you ask DWTS, there are only so many tango, salsa, or waltz moves that make a true tango, salsa, or waltz, and those are the only moves that head judge Len Goodman usually cares about. But if you ask the rest of the world, there's so much dance out there to be discovered and explored, even in the ballroom.
It's not that these current judges fully need to go, but some new blood beyond occasional guest judges would go a long way.
New Kinds of Contestants
Why do they keep casting celebrities with no dancing ability? That's the question we end up asking ourselves every season as we watch some celebs who are barely able to shuffle through a single routine. They don't get the time to truly get better, and other dancers end up having to hold themselves back (see: the lift rule). Scores are also skewed, since there are only 10 points in a score, and only so many points you can improve before you're just perfect every time.
But if a celeb with no dancing ability starts out getting fours, then the good dancers start out getting sevens or eights, and they can only get to 10, while worse dancers can appear to improve much faster.
We also complain when contestants are already professional dancers, because that seems to make it unfair, but there has to be a happy medium, like a minimum requirement of dance skill in order to compete. Why would you even sign up to do the show if you know you can't dance, and you'll be out in the first or second week? A more even playing field would make for a more exciting competition.
Actual celebrities (who are not politicians) would also be a good rule for the casting department to have.
Switch Up the Gender Roles
Why does a man always have to dance with a woman? Why can't women dance with women? Why can't men dance with men?
There is no reason why, simply put. Contestants should be able to choose.
All of this leads us to wonder what the point of Dancing With the Stars actually is. If it's a genuine dance competition, then some serious changes need to be made in order to even make it a fair and interesting one. If it's just a way for celebrities to get paid to be on TV, then it's got to get a little more exciting to make it worth it. If we're all just here to have a good time, why does Carrie Ann Inaba care so much about the lifts?
We will soon (or eventually, depending on the pandemic) discover what changes will actually be made next season of Dancing With the Stars when it returns to ABC for season 29. In the meantime, we'll just keep obsessing over all the TV shows we can't currently watch (in between actually watching all the ones we stlll can).