America's favorite guilty pleasure celebrates guilty's all very meta

By Maggie Fremont
October 02, 2017 at 11:09 PM EDT
  • TV Show

At a time when the country is mourning the unspeakable tragedy in Las Vegas, it can seem a bit ridiculous to sit down and watch a televised celebrity dance competition — but if this sometimes silly but always uplifting show can give someone a respite from the grief and anger for a short while, then maybe it isn’t so ridiculous. ABC has decided the show must go on, and after a few words from Tom Bergeron, the show does exactly that. Everything is terrible, but at least we can focus on dancing for two hours.

The good news is that there will be no elimination tonight; the bad news is that it’s “guilty pleasure” night and almost no one knows what a guilty pleasure actually is. A grown man loving boy bands? Yes. Hanging out with your friends? Not so much. Anyway, let’s try to feel as much joy as we can muster tonight — to the dance floor.

Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Argentine Tango, “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Welcome to CSI: Argentine Tango. Our ballroom Property Brother loves him some true-crime TV show marathons, so for his guilty pleasure dance, he’s donning the character of a sexy detective. Emma is the best dressed witness to ever give testimony. In the end, the mystery is solved: Drew is really growing as a dancer! The judges are impressed with his improvement, even from last week. He’s strong as a partner, his lifts are clean, and he dances with intensity. Emma is whipping this guy into shape. Yes, we’re here to talk about Drew, but isn’t Emma the best?
Judges’ Score: 23/30

Derek Fisher and Sharna Burgess
Cha-Cha, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith
Like a true athlete, Derek has been letting the scores get to his head, so a lighthearted routine is bound to do the guy some good. Because Derek is all of us, his guilty pleasure is reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (give me Geoffrey or nothing at all!). This Fresh Prince-inspired cha-cha is cheeky (figuratively and literally), and Derek looks the most at ease he has all season. Dare I say he’s chilling out maxin’ relaxing all cool? He’s also wearing an excellent ’90s bomber jacket that I would like to purchase, if it should become available. His technique is still not totally up to snuff, but he’s steadily improving. The judges, while not wowed, are entertained.
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy
Quickstep, “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba
You guys, I swear I have a heart. I swear I love Victoria and I love watching her incredible journey on this show. HOWEVER, I cannot and will not get on board with trying to make Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” deep and meaningful. I lived through the ’90s. Just, no. A routine that shows a person overcoming bullying in high school? Yes. Set to Chumbawamba? Hard pass. All tubthumping aside, the concept leads America’s Dad Tom Bergeron, really taking care of us tonight, to address all teenagers and instruct them that should they encounter someone different from them, like, say, a young girl in a wheelchair, “don’t be an ass.” Bless you, Tom. Oh yes, there is dancing: Victoria’s quickstep is quick and crisp, and aside from a lack of body contact, the judges are into it.
Judges’ Score: 22/30

Vanessa Lachey and Alan Bersten
Jazz, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
Maks is out due to a personal matter this week, which means we don’t have worry about saying goodbye to Alan so soon, because he’s filling in! I’m still sad about losing him and Debbie as a couple, but this will do. Vanessa’s guilty pleasure is silly nights with her girlfriends, which I’m pretty sure indicates that Vanessa doesn’t know what a guilty pleasure is. Girl, just go hang out with your friends! Why do you feel bad about that? Thankfully, her routine knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s so fun and flirty! A good chunk of it has Vanessa dancing in sync with the ladies of the troupe, and she holds her own. Carrie Ann notes some less-than-graceful lifts, but the panel is mostly pleased.
Judges’ Score: 23/30

Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev
Viennese Waltz, “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna
The true gift of tonight’s DWTS? Artem Chigvintsev as Fabio. I will treasure that moment always. Nikki’s guilty pleasure is romance novels, specifically 50 Shades of Grey. When Artem shows up with some very naughty choreography, Nikki all but chokeholds the guy to get him to admit he watched the movie in preparation. Now, this is a true guilty pleasure! Their routine is definitely not a traditional Viennese waltz, but it is pretty steamy. As Carrie Ann points out, it’s a big risk — especially with Nikki’s fiancé, John Cena, sitting in the audience staring down Artem. That man is a handsome tree and please, please, please, can we get him on this show?
Judges’ Score: 21/30
(Recap continues on page 2)

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Samba, “It’s Gonna Be Me” by *NSYNC
Want to know my guilty pleasure? I’m currently living for Frankie Muniz on this show. Just kidding! I don’t feel guilty about that at all. Especially not this evening, when Frankie gets to live out his true dream: being in a boy band. Sure, he picks *NSYNC to dance his boy band samba to, but we won’t hold that against him too much (#BSB4Life). Points given (by me) for re-creating the Justin Timberlake/Britney Spears denim explosion that is forever ingrained in our brains. As Frankie predicted in rehearsal, his boy band stuff is great (it must have been intimidating with all of 98 Degrees sitting in the audience), but his actual samba content is hesitant. Unfortunately, Frankie says “bye bye bye” to the top of the leader board. You’re welcome, America.
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Jive, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!
Lindsey’s guilty pleasure is staying in her pajamas all day, and honestly, she really needs to indulge this week because she’s dealing with a big breakup. As in, it just happened! That is rough stuff right there. But don’t get too glum — Mark Ballas is here to save the day, per usual. The jive routine he comes up with is so stinkin’ fun. The opening sequence in the bed is so cute and clever my heart burst into thousands of tiny hearts. Aside from the Ballas of it all, the judges applaud Lindsey for not only keeping up with the amount of jive content in the routine, but never being out-danced by Mark. No more crying, Lindsey! Celebrate your freedom — and your weirdly incredible ability to perform a jive with little training.
Judges’ Score: 27/30

Sasha Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko
Jazz, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” by The Four Tops
Sasha here “admits” that her “guilty pleasure” is baking, which I guess means she’s been hanging out with Vanessa? What kind of guilty pleasure is this? I’m happy to watch more of Sasha and Gleb’s love-hate relationship they have going on, both in Sasha’s kitchen and on the dance floor, but, really? Baking? The dancing is fun, and Sasha should get some bonus points for the sheer amount of prop work required, but the judges don’t think the routine shows off any of Sasha’s dance skills. They are not impressed. I, however, am impressed by Bruno’s impression of the Swedish Chef. More of that, please!
Judges’ Score: 19/30

Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd
Jazz, “Jump (For My Love)” by The Pointer Sisters
Serious question: Is Peta actually a workout guru who time-traveled here from the 1980s? She looks like she could blend in with all the queens of jazzercise perfectly; I wouldn’t be surprised. Nick’s guilty pleasure is romantic comedies (an actual guilty pleasure!), but instead of doing anything lyrical or romantic, Nick and Peta take the classic Pointer Sisters song featured in Love Actually and turn it into a kicky jazz number. Nick is finally having fun! Sure, it looks more like a group routine than a duo, but when Nick Lachey is rocking the hell out of sequined unitard, who even cares? This is the Nick Lachey we’ve all been waiting for. He still gets disappointing scores, but, still, a unitard!
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke
Salsa, “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow
These guilty pleasures, you guys! Terrell’s is breakdancing. BREAKDANCING. Who feels bad about breakdancing? Anyway, Terrell kind of stinks at it in rehearsals, but Cheryl is fusing some salsa and breakdancing in the hopes of appeasing the judges’ pleas for Terrell to dance bigger. Terrell gets extremely out of sync with the group in the middle of the routine, but other than that, you can tell the guy is loving it. He looks looser than he has in the past. He’s relaxed. He’s feeling those boom box vibes. He’s not the best, but he does get his highest score of the season. Personal improvement and glitter is what this show is all about, anyway.
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Charleston, “The Glory Days” by Michael Giacchino
THIS CHOREOGRAPHY. Grumpy Len complains about there being little to no Charleston here (there is lindy hop and quickstep), but how can a person complain about a routine that gets a Roy Lichtenstein shout-out on a network television reality show? We’re all living now, baby. This routine — an homage to Jordan’s love of comic books (being a geek? I guess I’ll allow it) — is, as Bruno puts it, “a visual feast.” I want to live in this routine. Lindsay doesn’t get any praise for her choreography from the judges, so we’ll give it to her here. It is so clever! Jordan hasn’t really connected emotionally to a dance yet, but the guy’s got moves.
Judges’ Score: 25/30

Since the folks behind Dancing With the Stars wisely decided to forego an elimination tonight, we could simply focus on the joy and positivity that dancing can bring. We needed it. Until next time, Dancing fam!

Episode Recaps

  • TV Show
  • 28
  • 03/21/11
  • Richard Hopkins
Complete Coverage