by: Raine T Riley & Will Henderson
Dancing is Back, and I don’t know how to feel about it.
In the Year of Corona, “new” and “live” feel like words from a by-gone era. Now, 190+ days into self-isolation, quarantine, and the “new normal,” miracle-esque gifts from above –live sports, new episodes of favorite shows, and new seasons of competition and reality tv – are coming more frequently and I, for one, cannot get enough. Though it all looks different, these little nuggets seem to be what is getting us (read: me) through. This past week was no different. Monday, September 14 marked the return of the long-standing dance competition reality show Dancing with the Stars on ABC.
For those unfamiliar, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) is a show in which 15 popular stars of television, music, movies, and sports are paired with professional dancers to try their ~foot~ at different styles of dance each week as they compete for the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy. The highly anticipated two-hour premiere kicked off the show’s 29th season and saw over 58k posts from 176 different countries. While the season has a lot going for it with the addition of Derek Hough as a judge and Tyra Banks as host, the most-talked-about aspect of this season is its cast. The pros are joined this season by the likes of Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, two-time U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, NBA legend Charles Oakley, the NFL’s Vernon Davis, all-around success Nelly, Disney Channel’s Skai Jackson (the youngest-ever star), and former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe. Nev Schulman of Catfish the Movie and Catfish the TV Show (my personal favorite) joined the cast this season along with Emmy Award-winning actress Anne Heche. Among the stars, however, one stands apart from the rest – Carole Baskin.
Carole Baskin gained international attention from the Netflix docu-series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness that premiered earlier this year. The series shook the world with its stories and secrets about the bizarrely interconnected society of big cat conservationists and collectors in the US. DWTS announced that she would be part of this season’s cast on September 2, immediately causing a spike of nearly 30k posts in one day. Since then, conversations surrounding the return have mostly been centered on or at least tangent to Carole Baskin.
Many of the top words associated with the DWTS return on Monday, September 14, were directly related to Carole Baskin. @ChicksintheOff tweeted a post about Carole’s *ahem* shocking appearance in her introduction:
Another popular Tweet compared Carole’s appearance in the rafters to that of the infamous villain Kalabar from the Disney Channel Halloweentown franchise – a comparison, I have to admit, I can kind of see:
Of course, the jokes about Carole’s alleged entanglement with her late/missing husband Don Lewis’s disappearance have not ceased, especially regarding what would happen to her dance partner or the judges if she were to get kicked off.
Many highly influential people got in on the conversations about the show, specifically about Carole Baskin, including Perez Hilton, TMZ, Barstool Sports, and People who all brought up that Don Lewis’s family bought a commercial spot during the premier to “remind you exactly who you’re watching and why she’s famous” (@PerezHilton) and “demand justice” (@barstoolsports) for Don. Meghan McCain even got in on the conversation, anticipating Carole Baskin’s dance:
Not all of the conversation about the new season was about Carole Baskin, though. People seemed very excited to see a lot of their favorite stars from all kinds of fame. AJ McLean got a lot of love with the hashtags #teamprettymessedup and #teamgetdown on Twitter and even responded to many of his fans following the show. Nev Schulman also got a lot of support, as did Nelly (@thecamfree)), Jeannie Mai, and Chrishell Strause. Overall, people seemed less enthusiastic about Tyra Banks joining the team as host, and many people voiced how much they miss Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews.
Although it was only the first week, the talent of this new cast is apparent. Though they come from different backgrounds, it seems that the pros have a lot to work with, even if the judges were quick to point out what they have to work on. Skai Jackson seems like a top contender, along with Nelly, Johnny Weir (no surprise there), Nev Schulman, and Justina Machado. This week, Tuesday, September 22, will see our first elimination. With such a dynamic and interesting cast, it will be exciting to see what happens. This will be my first season watching the show – yes, Carole Baskin was a draw for me – and I cannot wait to see how it all turns out! I can’t say that I think our would-be villain is long for the show, but more surprising things have happened.
What do you think? Who are you rooting for?