Joe “Grocery Store Joe” Amabile will go down in “Dancing with the Stars” history, for better or worse. He set a new record for the most last-place scores for a contestant in one season, but despite that he was never eliminated, which was a testament to the unprecedented support of his fan base. Well, that journey ended in the Semi-Finals, when his low scores finally caught up with him. But ironically they were his best scores ever, so at least he left on a high note. Watch his farewell dance above.
Well, the first of Amabile’s two Semi-Finals routines wasn’t such a high note. His contemporary dance with pro partner Jenna Johnson wasn’t particularly successful. She danced around him the whole time, to the point that a cardboard cutout of Amabile would have had as much impact on the dance floor (judge Bruno Tonioli thought he was “wooden … like a door”). But he followed that up with a Judges’ Choice quickstep that brought him a moment of redemption.
In the Judges’ Choice routines the contestants were challenged to redo a dance style they had previously performed, and Carrie Ann Inaba picked the quickstep for Amabile. That was the first dance style he performed this season, and really there was nowhere to go but up since it received the season’s lowest score (14 out of 30, which included a 4 from Len Goodman). But Inaba was strict with Amabile when helping him prepare for his do-over: “You’re not breathing like a normal person,” she told him, “and nothing about it looks natural.”
That tough love paid off, though. After his performance Inaba exclaimed, “What a difference!” Goodman thought it was a “clean and clear” routine despite his “cranky” posture. And Tonioli called it a “proper dance from the beginning to the end.” Damning with faint praise? Maybe, but he received straight 8s for a total of 24 out of 30, which was his best score ever on the show. And the 8 from Len was double what he received during the season premiere.
So even though he was sent home in fifth place at the end of the night, he managed to stay out of the bottom of the leaderboard for only the second time this season, and he was able to show the judges he really had grown over the course of his eight weeks. What did you think of Amabile’s last performance and his elimination at the end of the night? And who do you think deserves to win the Mirror Ball Trophy now that he’s out of the running?
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