More Sparkles! More Fake Tans! More Dancing And Stars, Kind Of!
Well, it's that time again: Monday night brings the premiere of the 19th season — NINETEENTH SEASON — of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, a show that has had some ratings struggles in recent years but has managed to keep on plugging for ... well, 19 seasons. That's 19 seasons of pretty people who can dance, pretty people who can't dance, the Star Wars dance, the disaster that was Master P, that thing Tucker Carlson did while sitting in a chair, and that time Tom DeLay broke his feet dancing a political metaphor dance. (Sorry, I don't have a terrible Democratic politician to offer you for balance, but that's only because I don't think they've had any. I will say Bristol Palin was a pretty good dancer by the end!)
It's also 18 winners so far, some of whom I totally forgot about. I didn't even remember former American Idol Kellie Pickler won this show, and that was only a couple of seasons ago.
This season doesn't have any ringers quite as ridiculous as last season, which was won by Meryl Davis, the Olympic ice dancer who, wonder of wonders, defeated people like Billy Dee Williams and Drew Carey in a dance contest. It does include a couple of head-scratchers, like Jonathan Bennett, an actor I'm sure is a perfectly nice person (don't e-mail me, Jonathan's mom!) who seems not quite famous enough even for this show. On the other hand, it includes Tommy Chong, so get ready for those jokes. Also from the acting side of things are Janel Parrish, who's on Pretty Little Liars, a nighttime soap I don't watch, and Antonio Sabato Jr., whom I know from General Hospital, a daytime soap I used to watch.
One nifty nostalgia pick is Lea Thompson, beloved by countless young girls for giving away a pair of diamond earrings to a tomboy and now starring on the well-received Switched at Birth. According to her official bio from ABC, she owns "many dogs, fish, horses, chickens, a cat, tortoise, and parrot." Another is Alfonso Ribeiro, who on the one hand is an actual dancer (a lot of people first saw him on Broadway in The Tap Dance Kid), but on the other hand at least didn't win a medal for it practically last week, Meryl Davis. And of course — of course — he has already confirmed that there's a good chance you'll see The Carlton Dance.
My personal vote for most delightful selection is Betsey Johnson, the kooky fashion designer who has livened up many a reality show in the past. She's partnered with old pro and Kate Gosselin survivor Tony Dovolani, and in the words I sigh every season as I resign myself to at least checking out a few Hulu clips, I'll watch that.
Journalists have an iffy history on Dancing, but this year brings Tavis Smiley to the floor, where he will presumably have the opportunity to accomplish things somewhat less important than his best-selling books and poverty-fighting nonprofit foundation.
Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty is holding up the "reality show participant" end of things in the absence of any current or former Bachelors or Bachelorettes, and apparently she's now the 17-year-old co-developer of a line of prom dresses, so she ought to know a bedazzled bodice when she sees one.
They always throw in a couple of athletes, and this year, there are Olympian Lolo Jones and NASCAR champ Michael Waltrip. Which will be more helpful in learning to dance, as between running fast and driving fast? Tune in and see! And they've shown an increasing fondness (based on going where the fans are) for ultimate fighters, which this year is bringing you Hall of Famer Randy Couture.
Finally, this: Bethany Mota has 7,000,000 YouTube subscribers. I have no idea who she is. In related news, my bones are dry and brittle, and my hands have curled into claws. Why is this wedding cake covered with spiders? (I know. I know. I said I'd stop. But: I have no idea who she is.)
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.