By Maggie Fremont
January 08, 2020 at 10:26 PM EST
Michael Becker/FOX

Believe it or not, people, there are still some folks out there who are attempting to find love— I apologize in advance — at first dance. Perhaps one shouldn’t knock it until she’s tried it. I mean, lots of great first dates end with a person drenched in sweat, out of breath, and being hoisted into the air, right? Flirty Dancing just gets that result in a much different, mildly-horrifying way. To each her own! Just kidding, I’d never try this, it is my actual nightmare. This week, we meet two more romantic hopefuls who have handed over the reins of their love lives to dancing fairy godmother Jenna Dewan. Will they find love or will they end up looking back on this moment in 10 years like, what in the actual hell was that? Only! Time! Will! Tell!

Anna

Meet our first flirty dancer of the evening: Anna. Anna is a 24-year-old freelance writer and part-time nanny. She’s hustling for those dough stacks, guys. More important for this show: Anna has never had a boyfriend and she attributes that to some major insecurities she has about being six-foot-two. She wants a man who can handle it. Will our impeccably dressed munchkin Jenna be able to find this tall single lady her first boyfriend? Honestly, who knows. What is life?

Anna & Max, “Sucker” by The Jonas Brothers
Max, a 28-year-old substitute teacher, seems very game here. Also, he wants a tall girl, which I’m sure the producers in no way prompted him to say. He gets the fun, flirty, first dance with Anna as choreographed by Dancing With the Stars stalwart, Val Chmerkovskiy. Val is wearing a turtleneck and saying things like body rolls are where “two become one” and honestly how is Anna supposed to concentrate on dancing with anyone else? A turtleneck, you guys.

Anyway, Max seems kind of hesitant during rehearsals — probably because he heard Val’s joke about body rolls getting Jenna pregnant — but once the actual dance starts, he’s in it to win it. And by “it” I mean a filmed date with a person he’s never heard speak before. This number starts out a little awkward and Anna and Max have to stare at each other from different sides of the building for what seems like 3,000 eight-counts and then run down different stairwells and then jauntily walk down the longest hallway ever created until finally meeting in the middle. Like, I’m already on board for the choreographed dancing but now I have to walk great distances in a rhythmic way? No, sir. The second half of the dance goes much smoother and it does, indeed, look like some flirty dancing is going on. I haven’t even seen the second dance and I am rooting for a Max win.

Michael Becker/FOX

Anna & Jimmy, “Rewrite the Stars” by James Arthur and Anne-Marie
Wow wow wow. In the biggest missed opportunity of the decade, Flirty Dancing does not decide to have this stuntman/farm boy begin his dance by riding in on a horse. Sure, the little hand-holding moment Val has choreographed to begin the dance is SWEET and VULNERABLE and REVEALING, but give me stuntmen on horses or give me death, okay? At the very actual least, Anna and Jimmy should be doing some solid rope work à la Zac Efron and Zendaya in The Greatest Showman, performing this song as INTENDED. Alas, there are neither horses nor rope dancing. There is, however, a moment in rehearsal when Jimmy says something about how he loves the opening move of the dance because there is really no better way to start things than by taking her hand and saying it’s okay. Jenna responds, “YES UHHHH” and I think maybe in that moment she found love on the dance floor? This show is wild.

Clearly, this is the more romantic dance of the two, but something doesn’t read “fully committed” between them. Still, Anna is there twirling her little heart out in the skinniest heels you could slap on a girl and she and Jimmy manage to hit that final lift. No easy feat! Afterward, she describes the dance as “magical” and he describes it as “a unique experience” and you know that cannot be good.

The Second Date: Anna, GIRL. Anna goes with the “magical” dance and decides to meet Jimmy for a second date. Poor Max is out there walking the streets of L.A. — not jauntily, I might add — and I still remain vehemently opposed to this “choose a winner” twist on the original format. Anna and Jimmy seem to have a nice, normal date and bond over being Mid-Westerners, but when we get the update at the end of the show, we learn that this relationship fizzled out immediately. I feel like when Anna hears that whole “unique experience” thing, she’ll get it.

Ted

Now this is the Flirty Dancing content I had been hoping for! Forget youngsters looking for love, I want to watch a retiree try to find romance again. And that’s Ted! Ted is 68, and he starts choking up talking about his late wife of 25 years, who passed four years prior. He is too precious for this show. But, alas, Ted wants to move forward with his life because, as he tells Jenna, life is short and he wants to enjoy it. He also tells her that “we’re not here forever” and we should “do the things we’re afraid of doing” and I feel like this is the literal Ted Talk we’ve all been waiting for. Plus, Ted thinks he’s a great catch because he still has all of his real teeth and hair and man, if this guy isn’t a delight.

Ted & Kari, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
Speaking of teeth, Kari is a 56-year-old dentist who lists good oral hygiene as an attribute her future man must have, so really, this could be a perfect match-up. Kari went through a tough divorce and is looking for a love that lasts. She’ll get to attempt to find that through a playful number to be danced on, you guessed it, THE DECK OF THE QUEEN MARY. Did you guess that? If so, go you! Another DWTS fan favorite, Sharna Burgess, is choreographing for Ted. Okay, so DWTS made the bone-headed move not to have her on last season, but ABC’s loss is FOX’s gain because Sharna is great with Ted, who seems a little more apprehensive in his dancing than others have.

It’s not the most technically-sound dance we’ve seen on this show, but when Ted first sees Kari his eyes almost pop out of his head cartoon-style. In his post-dance interview, which we all have on first dates, Ted says that Kari “took his breath away” and Kari likens her experience to “being in a romance novel.” Look at these little lovebirds! Not one person does “I’m King of the World” off the edge of the Queen Mary and we all regret that decision.

Michael Becker/FOX

Ted & Judy, “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin
Aw, Judy! When 57-year-old franchise consultant Judy is asked about her dance experience, she breaks down into tears! She lost her husband 15 years ago and started dancing as a form of therapy. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the way of getting through her grief led her to her next great love? I mean, it probably won’t because life is cruel and so is reality television. Still, Judy says she’s ready to show someone her heart and that someone could be Ted! They are getting the romantic dance, after all.

Also in Judy’s favor? As the curtains go up on the stage in the ballroom where they’re dancing, Judy goes and winks at Ted. She winks! She should win for the winking alone. Also a good sign, as both Jenna and Sharna point out, Ted and Judy barely break eye contact throughout the dance. There is this one section where they are just, like, randomly leaning on opposite sides of a pillar for too long, but other than that, those two can’t look away from one another. Ted tells Jenna there were sparks for him, but his decision seems more up in the air than others have been.

The Second Date: Ted meets Kari for a second date! In her defeat, Judy remembers a saying her mother used to recite — “There’s an ass for every saddle” — and feels generally okay about things. I hope she goes home, does some yoga, and then embroiders that saying onto a throw pillow. It’s begging for it! Meanwhile, Ted and Kari seem very happy together and gosh dang it if they don’t bond over dental hygiene! I knew it! In their update, they are still very much together because, hello, flossing is the way to true love.

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