There's Only One Way to Change the Outcome on 'Dancing With The Stars'
Updated: Jan 9, 2020
We are deep into Season 28 of Dancing With the Stars and it's easy to see the new voting system isn't working. When the season premiered, producers proudly unveiled the live voting system and the judges' ability to save a contestant each week.
This system is highly flawed given the fact that the Mountain, Pacific, Alaska and Hawaii-Aleutian time zones are excluded from seeing the show while they vote. Sure, the viewers in those areas are allowed to participate during the voting window, but they don't know what they are voting for.
The other looming factor comes down to demographics. ABC chose to make this season political with the casting of former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. While politics don't have a place in the ballroom, the casting choice leans into the Nielsen data that "Red states love Dancing With the Stars." The West Coast, traditionally seen as a liberal-voting bloc, is not able to participate in voting in the same way as East Coast, South and Midwest.
Producers may have changed elements of the voting system, but they made it harder for half of the country to vote and they tipped toward a specific demographic. That makes any issues raised in Season 27 about making the show a popularity contest even more glaring and a possible issue in the outcome of Season 28.
The performance order of the show also affects the celebrities who are competing. If a contestant is up first, that gives voters a full one hour and fifty-five minutes to submit votes for the dance they just watched. A celeb who has the last spot on the roster loses out on potential performance votes because they got stuck at the end of the show.
If Dancing With the Stars is truly a dance competition show based on improvement in dance technique, performance and yes, a celebrity's personality, then it's time to make the one bold move that would change how the season plays out — weighting the judges' scores heavier than the viewers' votes. Currently, the judges' scores and the viewers' votes are weighted evenly.
This move would take some of the power away from the fans without stripping them completely of their passion to vote for their favorite celebs and pros. It makes the judges accountable for giving scores that reflect technique, performance and improvement on a week-to-week basis because there would be even more importance placed upon them.
It's time to return the focus of DWTS back to the dancing, not demographics. It's too late to institute these changes for Season 28, but I'm looking at you, Season 29. And while we are at it, bring back overnight voting to even the playing field for the viewers in the later time zones. An even playing field is not only fair, but it’s also necessary.
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