Athletes, actors, and a YouTube Star? Oh my, indeed.
This recap is neither the place nor long enough to discuss the evolving definition of “stars,” we have seen in the past decade. But think of it this way: You probably had no idea who Meryl Davis was this time last year because it was before she went on to win both a gold medal and the mirror ball trophy. Of course that means her ice dancing partner (still bitter about that) Charlie White was just as anonymous, too. So one could argue that a YouTube channel doesn’t make a you a worthy celebrity to compete. (Seven million subscribers would probably agree with you.) Being famous because your family is a bunch of crazy, uncensored, slightly bigoted poultry people is a different story however. The real problem is that I’m already having a difficult time telling Bethany Mota, Sadie Robertson, and Janel Parrish apart.
But let’s not bang bang all of our troubles into the room just yet; it’s another season of Dancing with the Stars! The producers definitely don’t want us to forget that, at its core, dancing is a sport and that they are bringing up the level of competition. It seems they’ve also brought up the average age of contestants. Besides the three aforementioned ladies, the rest of the cast is a pretty mature group with eight of the 13 celebrities shaking it over the age of 40. (If you need a refresher, check that out here.) I don’t want to make any general assumptions, but someone is probably going to have to explain who Bethany Mota is to Tommy Chong on a weekly basis, right? Maybe bringing Julianne Hough on as a permanent fourth judge will even things out in general, especially since she’s really joining as a somewhat replacement for Len Goodman, who is expected to be frequently absent from the ballroom this go-around. But of course he was there tonight along with Carrie Ann and Bruno to give out the first marks of the season. Erin Andrews just seemed happy enough that the new cast doesn’t seem to feature her future replacement… yet.
Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke: 25/40
Just in case you didn’t realize, Antonio is ridiculously good-looking. Like, it really is ridiculous how this man has aged over the years. Also ridiculous: that the soap hunk hasn’t dance on the show before and is “embarrassed” to be called a sex symbol. But then he opened the show with a cha-cha and we all saw why. “It’s obvious you got dancing in your blood, but it hasn’t reached your feet.” Nice one, Len! Though he may be sexier than Jack Osbourne, Antonio doesn’t seem to have the uninhibited confidence needed to succeed in the competition, well at least not yet. He needs to do more than just smile and shake his hips. Luckily for Bruno and most of the audience though, his costume was still bulging in all the right places, giving us a very good view of the coming weeks ahead.
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev: 32/40
Always a controversial subject (not even going to mention the Davis/White debate again…oops, just did), but Lea was the first of a couple other contestants tonight with previous dance experience. But you guys—Mikhail Baryshnikov said she was too fat to be a ballerina 32 years ago and she hasn’t danced since. Shouldn’t we feel bad instead? Once she started dancing, though, Lea didn’t need any extra sympathy with a beautifully fluid fox-trot, which Carrie Ann said was the best one she’s seen on a premiere. Clearly the ballet years taught her something about keeping in time, but it didn’t do much for her posture, which seemed to be the only real complaint among the judges. New pro Artem (to America—he’s already won the mirror ball in the U.K. edition) may not be as old as Lea, but if Back to the Future taught us anything, she clearly works well with younger men.
Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29/40
It wasn’t long before the first showmance alert went off—this season between Janel and Val. Their natural chemistry was explosive from the moment they met and almost immediately started stroking each other’s abdomens. SPOILER ALERT: Janel’s character on Pretty Little Liars is dead, so you could argue she is dancing for her future career and SHE IS REALLY EXCITED TO BE HERE! See all the kicks and sparkles and smiles, right? Janel has great intentions, but needs to take it down a couple of notches to reality—or reality television at least—and leave the overacting for her teen dramedy. Once she gets more comfortable with the styles of dance, we know she is already comfortable enough with Val to do very well. Just don’t call her a grandma, unless it’s a compliment of course which by all means #swag on!
NEXT: One beautiful flub followed by another