I’ve watched the Ryan Lochte saga on ABC for the past two weeks now; I was stunned like everyone else and was glued to the tube as all the details unfolded the following day on what seemed to be every network. And then, I realized: this is too good to be true. Imagine this: You’re a showrunner and you have a controversial contestant: bonus- you have a controversial contestant and people love watching trouble, wait, people also love getting rid of people they can’t stand. How do we get as much mileage out of this contestant as we possibly can without comprising the integrity of the show and have the judges do something crazy like inflating the scores…Got it! Let’s plant some paid troublemakers, get them to make a scene and hopefully, get lots of attention (check!) and sway opinion favorably toward him (remains to be seen).
Apparently, the protesters didn’t have valid tickets, whatever that means. As many shows as I’ve been to, at the bare minimum I have to give my name (which is on a pre-printed list) and show proof of ticket and you’re telling me these guys got seating on the dance floor level with winks and smiles? Oh…okay. Secondly, they’ve been working that footage hard, why? Because they paid for it, so they might as well. They have given permission for every network on earth to air footage of the incident, they’ve used it in commercials and during the show. All the angles show that one of the protesters was so close to Lochte that as he got tackled by security, he bumped into him on the way to the ground. So, let me get his straight, you want to call this guy a liar, you get close enough to touch him and you focus your energy on the judges? Or were you obeying instructions to not touch or confront the talent? The second guy never even moved toward the Olympic swimmer. I call shenanigans and I call it hard!
Ok, so I had time on my hands and I haven’t written anything for awhile. So why not find something meaningless to overthink? Like Bindi Irwin’s recent DTWS win. It’s not so much about Bindi, but her partner, Derek Hough, who is now a 6-time mirrorball trophy winner. No one else on the show comes close to that tally. He’s talented, for sure, but how has he managed that kind of success while other cast mates are lucky to make it to week two?
After doing some math, there’s no question that the powers that be at DTWS has their favorites and to the favorites go the spoils (with the spoils being the younger, more agile celebs). Over the course of the past ten seasons, there have been twenty-five professional dancers, only thirteen have participated in at least five of the last ten seasons (which was my only requirement to be included in the list below). Everyone is placed in order from the youngest partner age average to the highest:
Mark Ballas: 25 Derek Hough: 28 Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 33 Karina Smirnoff & Peta Murgatroyd: 36 Sharna Burgess: 39 Cheryl Burke: 40 Kym Johnson: 41 Maxim Chmerkovskiy: 45 Emma Slater: 48 Tony Dovolani: 49 Anna Trebunskaya: 51 Tristan MacManus: 59
Fun facts: I was sure Derek Hough would be at the top of this list, but instead, it’s his good friend, Mark. While Derek has danced with older competitors (he won with 50 year old, Jennifer Grey and partnered with 43 year old, Ricki Lake), Mark hasn’t danced with anyone outside of their thirties. Other interesting tidbits: Tristan MacManus’ youngest partner was in their forties. Tony Dovolani is the longest running cast member (appearing in every season except the first). His average is what I would expect everyone to be around, but with a more than two decade difference between him and Ballas and Hough, it’s clear that producers, despite claims to match based on physical traits and compatibility, shield certain dancers from possible early exit by pairing them with likely frontrunners.