I sat down with some tres leche cake and a glass of vanilla lemonade, ready to enjoy a brand new episode of SYTYCD. Much to my surprise, but not really surprising since I live under a rock, it was not on this week.
Since we’ve got a little time to fill, let’s talk about the show anyway, shall we?
I’ve previously written about my favorite dances from the first several seasons, feel free to share your favorites in the comments. (YouTube posting hint: Hit the share button under the video on the YouTube site. Copy and paste the shorter URL that appears. Paste it without any formatting into your comment, so it’s just a string of plain, unclickable text.) Rather than rehash that article, let’s talk about what we really, really love about the show and what we really, really don’t.
Selena Really, Really Loves These Things
1. Cat Deely. SlayBelle and I have discussed her at length, and decided that she’s by far the best reality TV host in the history of reality TV. She’s so great with all her little contestant ducks, and you can tell she genuinely cares about each and every one of them.
2. Actual Talent. I watched that Other Dance Show on ABC this year for the first time, and it gave me a serious case of brow-furrow. While two or three of the “stars” who performed were pretty good dancers, most of them were not. Watching my childhood hero, Halfpint, being dragged across the stage and dropped on her head while a Samba played in the background is not my idea of fun. The contestants on SYTYCD have been dancing for most of their lives. The ones who make it to the show, and especially the top ten, are not only incredibly talented, they’re usually very well trained, disciplined and at the very top of their game.
3. Diversity. While I do think the show relies far too much on contemporary/jazz dancers, the producers have also introduced a huge audience to (an admittedly sometimes U.S.-washed version of) several dances we’ve rarely seen on TV, including international folk dances, “Bollywood,” whacking, krump and everything in between. The top twenty dancers have always been diverse as well. When the series was split over two nights per week in previous seasons, the guest performers on the results show also represented a wide range of dance styles and cultures.
4. Mama Mia. Mia Michaels, bless her heart, is one talented BAMF. She’s also bitchy and dramatic enough to make for great TV. She uses bizarre metaphors, she’s brutally honest, and she’s utterly weird. I love her, and I want to be her bestie. I would totally read her blog.
5. The shameless emotional manipulation. My rational, logical, gen-x cynical side tells me I should hate how this show tries and succeeds in making me ugly cry at least ten times per season. I don’t even care.
Selena Could Do Without These Things
1. The wonky camera work. It gets better each season, but most episodes still do a shitty job of actually showing us the dancing.
2. That fucking hot tamale train. I really enjoy Mary Murphy. She knows a shit-ton about ballroom dance, and she’s still got a helluva set of moves. She enthusiastic and has a great sense of humor. Yet, the train remains. This is what happens when one makes fetch happen.
3. Nigel’s kind of a perv. While I think he is improving, (you go, Nigel!) I think my opinion of him will be slow to change. He’s been really obnoxious to many of the women dancers, and he’s been outwardly and unnecessarily aloof (I’m not sure if that’s the right word…) to anything that broke away from his old-fashioned idea that boys should only dance with girls.
4. Solos. These kids are America’s favorite dancers, not America’s favorite choreographers. Either give them choreographed solos from the real choreographers or find another way to make them “dance for their lives.” Plus, “dancing for your life” is some serious hyperbole. As far as I know, we’ve not sunk so low as to shoot the losing competitors on our reality shows. Yet.
5. Terrible, horrible, awful guest judges who know absolutely nothing about dance or how to critique it. That’s what we have bloggers for, we don’t need it from sitcom actors and performers on a PR tour.