How 'Dancing With the Stars' Can Turn the Narrative Around

by Kristyn Burtt | 8/30/2019 1:44 PM

Photo credit: ABC/Justin Stephens.

It's been a rocky two weeks for Dancing With the Stars and ABC. Normally this pre-premiere time is filled with fun social media posts with pros and their new partners, fans creating team names and a general excitement towards the new season.


This year it has been filled with viewers upset about casting choices, Lara Spencer's Good Morning America gaffe about boys who dance and the loss of Artem Chigvintsev, Sharna Burgess and the troupe in the Season 28 cast.


More: Did 'Dancing With the Stars' Live Up To Its Casting Promise?


Even host Tom Bergeron felt uneasy after the Season 28 cast was revealed.


"A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS' new executive producer, I offered suggestions for season 28. Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement,” he wrote in a Twitter post, “Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction.' "


ABC successfully turned the narrative around with GMA and Spencer earlier this week by featuring three successful male dancers in the industry Travis Wall, Fabrice Calmels and Robbie Fairchild. It's time to turn the narrative around on Season 28.


One thing is for sure, the cast remains intact. The changes will come when America begins voting during the season. However, it's the little things that DWTS can start focusing in on that will hopefully kick Season 28 off on a positive note. Here are a few suggestions:


More: 8 Epic Routines Choreographed by 'DWTS' Pro Lindsay Arnold That We Love


1. Cast members: Start focusing in on the cast members who aren't divisive. Co-executive producer Deena Katz did coordinate a more familiar cast than in prior seasons. Christie Brinkley, James Van Der Beek, Karamo Brown and Kate Flannery definitely bring some feel-good elements to the show because of their pop-culture status. Mary Wilson wants to do the show to prove to her 11 grandchildren that "grandma is cool," and younger music fans are going to relate to the journeys of Fifth Harmony member Ally Brooke and country singer Lauren Alaina. There are good stories here.


2. Back to basics: The producers keep promising they are going back to basics with the show. To longtime viewers, that means less elaborate production numbers early in the season and a core focus on ballroom dancing. It's already been revealed that Monday, Oct. 14 is Disney night, so there will be big numbers at some point in the season. In the past few seasons, DWTS has allowed the production numbers to get too big, too early, leaving the finale to feel anticlimactic. By keeping the dance numbers small early on, it allows for the momentum to build.


More: Suresh Mukund Celebrates a 'World of Dance' Win & an Emmy Nomination


3. Judging: Judging was a huge point of contention in Season 27. High scores were doled out too early and the feedback for the contestants, who needed more constructive criticism, were sometimes too complimentary. Bergeron is teasing that the judges have a new element in Season 28 that will be revealed soon, let's hope those “10’ scores stay in Len Goodman's pocket for a while.


Will the viewers return after a rough Season 27, a controversial Season 28 cast and the elimination of some fan-favorite pro dancers? That remains to be seen, but DWTS needs to turn the narrative around for those fans who loyally tune in season after season. Just get back to the reason the viewers are all here — the dancing.

Don’t miss Dance Network’s exclusive ‘To The Pointe’ interview with Tati McQuay:

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