Last night, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson took home the ugly mirrorball trophy for her efforts this season on Dancing With the Stars, but her co-finalists, Melissa Rycroft (of dumped by The Bachelor fame) and Gilles Marini (of taking off all his clothes in Sex and the City fame) were clearly the stronger dancers. Johnson has grown into a moderately better dancer throughout the course of the show, but aside from her fun freestyle on Monday night, she didn't really have the flair that the other two competitors did. There was a lack of elegance and style, and she always had a pained look on her face, or a plastered-on faux smile. Due to her young age (or her sheltered life as a young athlete), she was also missing the flirty sexiness needed during the Latin dances. Though I've been to my share of high school dances and bar mitzvahs and there are plenty of 17-year-old girls who can bring on the sexy when they want to.. or just whenever.
My point is that Shawn wasn't the most deserving winner. She was a solid technical dancer, but she wasn't perfect. If this show is about finding the actual best dancer (and not just a popularity contest), that would be Gilles. He may not have had the biggest name coming into this competition, but he managed to be graceful when he needed, and sexy when needed (not that it looked like a difficult challenge for him). The judges even wanted an 11 paddle at one point to give him a higher score. He's quite possibly the most talented celebrity that has ever been on that show, and sometimes I had to remind myself that he wasn't a pro.
Melissa for her part was a trouper for stepping in at the last minute and making it to the finals. She was definitely stronger on the elegant ballroom numbers, but I'm not unhappy with her third-place finish. Especially since a win for her would have been clouded by the week that she was judged on rehearsal footage, because she was injured and couldn't compete.
You could tell that even Shawn's partner Mark Ballas was flabbergasted by their win. He stood dumbstruck for a full minute while Tom Bergeron tried to extract some reaction statements from Johnson. She was overwhelmed, as you'd expect, and showed more emotion than she had all season. Gilles was gracious in his runner-up speech and thanked his partner Cheryl Burke.
This is exactly why I'd like to see an All-Stars season: a chance for some of the former winners and also-rans to dance head-to-head. The competition seems to be getting more difficult (based on the physical injuries) each year, and it would be great to see how former favorites really stack up. I think bringing back people a second time would also help eliminate some of the popularity issues, because presumably the Dancing With the Stars-watching public would be more than familiar with these people (I'm guessing that popularity is what we should credit for peppy little Shawn winning). So perhaps an All-Stars would put them on an even playing field. Plus, it would make a spring season much more entertaining than just filling it up with more obscure has-beens.
What do you think? Did Shawn deserve her glittery trophy? Or did she just win a popularity contest?
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