Why I'm Not Watching 2019's 'Dancing With The Stars' Finale

Dancing with the Stars Lamar Odom Kate Flannery Hannah Brown Kel Mitchell Ally Brooke James Van Der Beek Mary Wilson Christie Brinkley Lauren Alaina Sean Spicer Karamo Brown Ray Lewis ABC
After Season 28's semi-finals elimination on “Dancing with the Stars,” I am not watching the 2019 finale. The show and I have always had a precipitous relationship. One filled with frustration over talented competitors gone too soon and past winners. Despite all of that, yours truly continued watching, until now.

On the November 18, 2019 episode of Season 28, “Dancing with the Stars” went way too far with its semi-finals elimination of James Van Der Beek. The actor and extraordinary dancing talent powered through a tremendous personal tragedy to appear on the episode. Van Der Beek and his wife had lost their unborn child that past Saturday. His wife encouraged him to perform, so he did.


Following a cha-cha-cha that received three 8s, James Van Der Beek performed a foxtrot, which he dedicated to his wife. The ballroom and judges were visibly moved as Van Der Beek’s precious little daughter was left crying. Her dad carried her up for the post-dance interview, where a gentle Erin Andrews was very conscientious in her handling of the interview.

After glowing personal praise for James Van Der Beek, the judges awarded him and his pro partner, Emma Slater -- three 9s. Yep. Van Der Beek, aware of the situation, told “Dancing with the Stars” viewers they needed their votes. Co-host Erin Andrews, like many watching, did not seem to think that would be necessary.

Then came the agonizing elimination. James Van Der Beek was in the bottom two for the first time in Season 28, while Ally Brooke landed there for the third time. Brooke had acknowledged earlier in the episode that she thought she would dance her last routine that night on “Dancing with the Stars” if she ended up in the bottom two for a third instance, which ended up happening.

James Van Der Beek landed in the bottom two for the very first time in “Dancing with the Stars” Season 28. His dancing skill made him an early frontrunner. However, his scores from the judges had seldom reflected his prowess. While his marks were lower than yours truly would have awarded, he had thankfully never been in the bottom two. A sign of how much a fan-favorite he had been. Now, the judges had to choose.

For the third time, they unanimously chose a shocked, Ally Brooke. To her massive credit, Brooke tried in vain to give her spot to James Van Der Beek. Co-host Tom Bergeron made it clear that it was not possible. Just like that, “Dancing with the Stars” heartlessly voted off Van Der Beek in the semi-finals. Seriously?

“Dancing with the Stars” is not “Game of Thrones.” It is a reality show/supposed dance competition. How can it be considered a dance competition when there seems to be such a disconnect between the judges and viewers? The judges’ save was supposed to be the governor on the popularity contest that “Dancing with the Stars” has become.

To vote off James Van Der Beek during his first appearance in the bottom two after a season full of fantastic performances is quite frankly, inconceivable. I do not plan on finishing Season 28, and “Dancing with the Stars” has likely lost me as a viewer – forever.

This week’s episode was not just frustrating on a dance level, it was infuriating on a personal one. What “Dancing with the Stars” did felt cruel and indefensible. How did James Van Der Beek not earn one save considering it was his first time in the bottom two? Not to mention, his overall performance in Season 28.

This is nothing against Ally Brooke. She has proved to be a young woman of exemplary personal character during her run on “Dancing with the Stars.”

James Van Der Beek landing in the bottom two can potentially be chalked up to a fluke of viewers (like myself) believing he was safe. He has been incredible since Week 1, which may have been his competitive undoing. “Dancing with the Stars” as a show loves the storylines that involve growth. Albeit that is not a consistent mode of operation for the series.

Dancing with the Stars Lauren Alaina Kel Mitchell Sean Spicer James Van Der Beek Kate Flannery Karamo Brown Christie Brinkley Mary Wilson Ray Lewis Ally Brooke Hannah Brown Lamar Odom ABC
Image by ABC

“Dancing with the Stars” has periodically lost me, but this was a full-blown “hold the door” moment. It has always had too inconsistent of a narrative when it comes to deciding the winner. After last season’s controversial victory, the show revised the rules to allow the judges the ability to save worthy dance talent. Is it time for a governor on how many times the judges can save the same contestant? In other words, a three-strikes rule.

It is clear this solution has not entirely dealt with the issue it was supposed to solve. It should be understood that a first-time appearance in the bottom two is different than multiple ones. The bridge between “Dancing with the Stars” and viewers remains as vast as ever. Our time together ends with a particularly bad taste.

How does the show think it won anyone over by eliminating a grief-stricken father, who is a finalist-worthy dancer? A competitor who showed tremendous emotional courage in even showing up when it would have been entirely understandable for him to drop out. What is “Dancing with the Stars” trying to say?

Season 28's track record indicated who viewers would have wanted to stay. Instead, it cast off a contestant that had landed in the bottom two – once! This is not to mention that considering the emotional circumstances, there should have been no elimination after announcing the bottom two.

“Dancing with the Stars” spares everyone on Disney Night so there can be a “feel-good” Disney ending. A night of personal tragedy should have been handled with the human compassion it warranted. Showbusiness is tough, but “Dancing with the Stars” has often lived in a considerate bubble. It popped it big time, and I am shocked and incredibly disturbed by the whole thing.

After 28 seasons, the mirror ball has been shattered. I used to look forward to watching “Dancing with the Stars” as a competition before switching gears. To keep watching, I decided to stop caring who won or got eliminated and instead enjoy the celebrities and their dancing journey. Not anymore.

This was a step way too far. Considering the circumstances, it felt especially insensitive in its handling of things. As a prospective viewer, it does not seem right to continue compromising after this elimination. “Dancing with the Stars” crossed the line, and the backlash should be huge. It is time to dance away.

James Van Der Beek deserved better, and in my book, he should have been given the courtesy of choosing to stay or leave “Dancing with the Stars.” That option should have been given this season (28) and in any future season, a celebrity cast member faces a personal loss. Human decency demands no less.

“Dancing with the Stars” proved with James Van Der Beek's elimination that it still has a long way to go when it comes to balancing the way its format determines the winner. Will the show really learn anything from Season 28? I will look out for updates because until a major change happens, I cannot keep investing my emotions and time into the series.

If you plan not to continue watching “Dancing with the Stars,” the Season 28 finale airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

[Featured Image by ABC]

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