After the controversial Mirror Ball win for Bobby Bones last fall, “Dancing with the Stars” tweaked its voting system going into season 28. But maybe it’s time to overhaul the overhaul. In week six of the competition Sailor Brinkley-Cook got her highest scores of the season, and actually tied for the highest scores anyone has gotten this season so far. Then she was eliminated in ninth place. Watch her jive above. Then scroll down to let us know what you thought of that shocking outcome in our poll below.
Brinkley-Cook was a last-minute substitution on the show after her mom, Christie Brinkley, was injured a few days before the season began. In her clip package this week she admitted to feeling insecure as the daughter of the famous model, and her pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy tried to get her out of her shell by having them practice their jive in public.
That seemed to work. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba thought Brinkley-Cook was “amazing” and “found her groove.” Len Goodman thought her dance was full of “taste and flavor,” “wham and personality.” And Bruno Tonioli told her, “Way to go!” She got straight 9s for a total of 27 out of 30, which tied her with Kate Flannery and James Van Der Beek for the top spot.
There was no elimination last week on “Disney Night,” so the scores from both weeks were combined, giving her a total of 51 out of 60, which tied her with Flannery as the fourth best on the combined leaderboard. But she nevertheless landed in the bottom two with Ally Brooke (who had the second best combined judges’ score). The judges were taken aback; one of the voting changes this season is that the judges get to choose which of the bottom two to save and which to eliminate, but they probably didn’t imagine they’d have to make this decision. They saved Brooke even though it was clear they didn’t want to eliminate Brinkley-Cook either.
So what went wrong? The other big change this season is that live voting during the show has replaced overnight voting. I’m not sure what was supposed to have been gained by that, but it meant that only viewers with access to the live east coast broadcast had a chance to cast an informed vote. You could still vote on the west coast, but you’d have to vote blind.
If overnight voting were still in place, would that have changed anything? Judging from last year’s screwy eliminations of Tinashe and Juan Pablo di Pace while low-scoring celebs Bones and Joe Amabile kept advancing, I’m not sure going back to nationwide overnight voting would have made the difference. What we have here is probably a problem of how the scores are weighted against viewer votes.
Sean Spicer scored 12 points lower than Brooke and 11 points lower than Brinkley-Cook on the combined two-week leaderboard, but his viewer votes were somehow enough to keep him out of the bottom two entirely. In fact, he has never been in the bottom two even though he has been in the judges‘ bottom two every week but one. How come?
“DWTS” fan voters have long shown a conservative bent, rallying behind right-leaning contestants even when their scores are less stellar. Sarah Palin‘s daughter Bristol Palin finished third in season 11 even though she was only the sixth best dancer based on scores. Outspoken conservative actress Candace Cameron Bure finished third in season 18 even though she also had the sixth best scores of her season. “Duck Dynasty” scion Sadie Robertson was the runner-up in season 19 despite getting the season’s fourth best scores.
Could the disparity be even worse now? With political polarization increasing, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Donald Trump‘s former press secretary is making it through the competition unscathed despite poor scores. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few voters who would back Spicer just to own the libs, even if they don’t watch “DWTS” at all.
After the casting announcement “DWTS” host Tom Bergeron released his own statement objecting to the producers’ decision to cast Spicer, saying that he wanted this season to be a “joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations.” Well, any hope of this show escaping the exhausting political climate may have just left with Sailor Brinkley-Cook.
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