Nothing like summer — sitting back, sipping on a beverage, and being spoon-fed the delightful bit of guilt cheese that is Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. An American Idol for aspiring hoofers, Dance asks absolutely nothing of its audience except feet-up enjoyment and weekly participation via that 21st-century version of democracy, phone voting for favorites.
Aside from being a fun, frothy show, Dance is a sly celebration of hard work — by proxy. The judges all perch with prominent glasses of water within reach, as if the act of watching is thirsty work, and the intense physical preparation the dancers must endure is glimpsed only in breezy, laugh-filled bites (the better to make room for special performances by the Pussycat Dolls, who are so ubiquitous — especially among shows containing any form of the word ”dance” in the title — nothing they do is technically ”special”).
The most shameless part of the program’s generous something-for-nothing attitude is the goodbye segment, which occurs each time a dancer is booted. This inevitably triggers the invocation of Dance‘s favorite word: journey. ”Let’s take a look at some of your different hairstyles — and your journey,” Brit host Cat Deeley (a replacement for season 1’s Lauren Sanchez, who apparently has been banished to the land of Dunkleman) coos to exiled Ashlee, who’s mysteriously coiffed like Shemp Howard. What follows is a gooey ”special friend” montage, a clever clip reel of the performer’s most emotional moments, played over one of two inspiring songs (I prefer Matt Goss’ more literal ”It’s the End of the Road”), in which we’re encouraged to feel like we’ve known this person forever. Hurray for us! We’ve got intimacy without genuine attachment. Never has TV been so easy.