Friday, July 11, 2008

SYTYCD: Pissed-off Fan of the Week

0:30 Nigel’s a pervert
1:00 Agrees with me (on Twitch and Will) and FOF (on Kherington)
2:00 Mary Murphy=Paula Abdul?
4:30 Accurately predicts this week’s eliminations, with the added bonus of Thanye as a creepy intruder at the end.

Plus: The girls are all annoying, but the guys are okay. Advice to producers. Will should win. Wait, no—Mark. Mark should win. Yeah.

Jamming the Allison Holker Blunder

Allison Holker was a contestant in the top 8 in Season 2, a brilliant contemporary dancer and a favorite among the judges. She was arguably a better dancer than the other three women left in the competition, and she might have won it all, but for America’s preference for sexy Natalie. America voted, and Allison left the competition before either Donyelle, Natalie or Heidi. Hence the Allison Holker Blunder, where a better dancer is voted off ahead of less-talented but more appealing dancers. Katee is this season’s potential Allison Holker.

Comfort for Katee

I started this post yesterday, attempting to answer the question, Why do the judges bag on Jessica?

My first theory (prior to last night’s result):
Jessica has better puppy-dog eyes than the brilliantly precise but uncharismatic Katee, and America is a sucker for hapless girls with puppy-dog eyes. The judges want to get rid of Jessica so that she doesn’t end up being retained past her stale date by a sympathetic America. The judges fear the pity vote for Jessica, and they want her gone.

Why this theory is wrong:
America is hard-hearted. Puppy dog eyes won’t sway them.

My second theory (after last night’s vote to drop Comfort instead of Jessica):
The judges are sadists, and they’ve grown fond of their little punching bag. They’re keeping Jessica because they like to make her cry.

Why this theory is wrong:
The judges are not really sadists (are they?).

My third theory (which is my first theory revised after considering FOF’s theory):
The judges are anticipating an Allison Holker Blunder favoring Comfort over Katee.

Why this theory is correct:
Comfort is more appealing than Katee, but a poorer dancer. The judges fear is legitimate. FOF agrees.

It’s settled: The judges got rid of Comfort to save Katee.

SYTYCD: Explaining the Judges Decision to Keep Jessica and Send Comfort Home

Well, it doesn't make sense, at least not in the sense of who would you rather see on tour, a ho-hum contemporary dancer in Jessica or, to paraphrase Nigel, the best female hip hop dancer ever on SYTYCD? Answer: Comfort. That equation alone should have saved Comfort.

How unexciting is Jessica? But seriously, I know the Judges have, on rare occasion, had nice things to say about Jessica, but as compared to Comfort? I don't think so. Comfort is far and away the greater unknown, as in, you never know--which is eminently more interesting that Jessica's predictable, earnest struggle.

Sue Brody over at BSYTYCD makes you stop and think about it too:

And then Nigel says something that really takes me aback. He says that “I have to say this, and it might sound cruel, but this is one of the times we would have liked to have kept all three boys and lost two girls.” While I have to say I somewhat agree—I wanted to keep Thayne—I can’t imagine how much this hurt Jessica. They should just eliminate her already and stop the torture.
Torture is right. In fact, I don't think single contestant in the history of the show has had to endure the abuse from the Judges Jessica has week after week. Why not put Jessica out of her misery? Why condemn her to another week of abuse and false hope?

Last but not least, Comfort is a crowd favorite. I know she's a favorite of mine. Not my favorite dancer, although she has her moments. Not my favorite to win. But a favorite nonetheless. As a person she's real, she's honest, she's humble yet hard and a bit different too (but in a good way). I don't think I'm alone in my affinity for Comfort and the Judges know it. They know that the fans, now that it's solely up to them, may elect to keep Comfort around longer than next week, which is how long they'll keep Jessica. In other words, by sending Comfort home the Judges exert their control over who stays and who goes one more week. An odd, short-term calculation on their part, and a short-term mistake at that, since audience engagement suffers as a consequence of Jessica's predestined departure.

Comfort, if you're out there, take heart. Look at all the mistakes the Judges were willing to make (a less interesting tour, a prolonged cruelty to Jessica and a wash of an episode next week), all to deny the audience, us, the chance to vote for you.

Update: "The best backstage moment -- by far -- occurred at the very end of the show, after the cameras had stopped rolling. After Comfort Fedoke and Thayne Jasperson's eliminations, Nigel teamed up with another member of the production to make a shocking announcement: The top 10 dancers aren’t the only ones going on tour this year ... four more dancers will be making the trek. And two of them are Comfort and Thayne!" -- LA Times

Thursday, July 10, 2008

SYTYCD Episode 420 Top Twelve Results Show Open Thread

Episode Airs: Thursday, July 10, 9/8c on FOX.

1 guy and 1 girl is going home. Our meager little polls suggest that tonight's losers will be Jessica and Thayne, but something tells me Comfort has overstayed her welcome. Either way it should be interesting. Either Will gets to suffer Jessica for another week, or Will gets to carry a new dead weight in the form of Comfort. But no pressure Will, the Judges will take care of you even if the gods and fans won't.

p.s. I'm aware that my ever deepening dislike of Will is not necessarily shared by the XX persuasion. So, I'm sure he's safe thanks to you, and as a consequence so is Jessica (no dancing for your life tonight dear). Thayne and Comfort, it's curtains.

Joshua Twitch Comfort Courtney Chelsie Thayne Mark Jessica Gev Kherington Katee Will

Are Professional Dancers Masquerading as Hip Hop, Pop and Break Dancers on So You Think You Can Dance?

Maybe it's just me, but the "street" dancers are having a much better time of it this year on SYTYCD. You may recall questions about Joshua's dance background after he auditioned as a hip hop dancer.

Joshua's bio now reads:

Q: Do you have any formal dance training?
A: Yes.
Q: If you had to categorize your dance style, what would it be?
A: Performer.
Still, it doesn't change the fact that Joshua "auditioned" as a hip hopper.

There are three other non-formal dance specialists:

Gev, who seems remarkably at home no matter what style of dance he's performing, answers, "Not Really," to the question of whether he's had any formal dance training, and consistent with his audition he describes himself as a "Break dancer." Yet during his hip hop routine with partner Courtney, it was Courtney (the "contemporary" dancer) who delivered the hard hits, leaving Gev looking a bit like he was out of his element.

Comfort, who took the female "hip hop dancer, popper" spot in the top 20 explains, "I do have formal dance training because I attend Booker T Washington High School of Performing Arts for 2 and a half years." Yet like Gev, when choreographed in her own genre of dance, her performance fell flat.

Contrast those with Twitch--who we met last season and know, despite getting formal training over the past year, was a "freestyle" dancer first--and how he delivers when asked to krump:

What does it look like to you? Suspicious at all? Fans of the show know that there are a certain number of spots reserved for non-professional dancers in the top 20, just as there are spots for the various styles of professional dance. But which category is the more competitive? Would a ballroom dancer be better off learning a hip hop routine to audition with? Are professional dancers doing the same as Twitch, except they're learning to pop and break, and in the process discovering that professional discipline applied to the non-professional dance styles leads to relatively impressive results. Meaning, are hip hop, breaking, popping and the like not really that hard after all, at least not for a serious dancer with professional training? Leaving the contemporary dancer who learns hip hop the option of passing on head to head competition with the other, professional, contemporary dancers, and instead competing against the fewer in number and one dimensional hip hop dancers.

Remember the pop locker Robert Murraine? Is it possible that he was the only "true" "amateur" in Las Vegas this year?

SYTYCD [419] Favorite Routines

Katee and Joshua do Bollywood.
Un-remarked by the Judges, how in sync they were. Otherwise, total commitment by both dancers. Fun to watch.

Chelsie and Mark Salsa
What’s remarkable about this performance is that while I’m a big fan of Mark, Chelsie was so smoking hot I didn’t even notice him. And really, just the idea that she’s a tomboy makes her that much sexier.

Poor Misunderstood SYTYCD

But quickly: What's up with the Judges giving Kherington a pass on her crumbling krump. It's one thing to be a favorite of the Judges; it's another entirely to be a pet.

Okay, so, ... here is the Mia Michaels' incident that has all the uptights predictably bent out of shape.

[Mia's critique starts at 4:13.]

What Mia said:

Will, you look tired of carrying her [Jessica]. That's what I feel like. You've been carrying her for this entire time and you look tired. You're tired. You need a new partner.
What puts Mia's criticism over the top, what makes it soooo rude, is it's true. It was too honest. But newsflash for all you so-called So You Think You Can Dance fans out there who are upset with Mia for telling it like it is, being too honest is SYTYCD's secret to success, and I fear this secret ingredient is purely by accident AND your bitching about it will clue the producers in on the fact that SYTYCD is raw, unabashed nuttiness that needs to be scripted and sanitized for the masses. Well it doesn't. Leave it the fuck alone.

You know the concept of a dance competition isn't a brilliant or original one. Nope. Not even close. And how many "fans" of dance are there, really? But here's a twist--and no, it's not having the audience vote from home--why not put real dance professionals in charge of the show? In fact, why don't we make the show a window into the world of dance, and make as its stars, not people who belong on TV, but people who belong in a dance studio, people who see dance as an art form, people who are literally fierce in, and unfailingly loyal to, their dance artistry. In short, give the dance freaks (and I mean that in the nicest way) their own show, and let them run with it. Now that is a brilliant concept, and whether by accident or design, it is what makes SYTYCD so damn refreshing, surprising, unexpected.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

SYTYCD Episode 419 Top Twelve Open Thread

Episode Airs: Tonight, July 9, from 8 PM to 10 PM ET/PT on FOX.The top twelve finalist are:
  • Joshua Allen
  • Twitch Boss
  • Comfort Fedoke
  • Courtney Galiano
  • Chelsie Hightower
  • Thayne Jasperson
  • Mark Kanemura
  • Jessica King
  • Gev Manoukian
  • Kherington Payne
  • Katee Shean
  • Will Wingfield
Joshua Twitch Comfort Courtney Chelsie Thayne Mark Jessica Gev Kherington Katee Will

SYTYCD Doesn't Make You Feel Dirty

Ted over at BSYTYCD doesn’t want SYTYCD being treated like some sordid little reality show you’re embarrassed to tell your friends about. He thinks you ought to be “proud that you enjoy watching dedicated, talented young artists grow under the tutelage of respected professionals.”

I agree. SYTYCD is not your average reality tv show. Unlike other shows where humiliation of the contestants is a big part of the entertainment, SYTYCD is all about the dancing. It’s a classy reality tv show.

Though he calls it a guilty pleasure, Myles McNutt at Cultural Learnings also notes the show’s qualities, comparing SYTYCD to “Dancing with the Stars”, which is more about celebrities looking foolish than it is about dancing, and unlike the contestants on “American Idol”, Miles says, the dancers on SYTYCD are forced to expand their range and perform new styles. 

HuffPo culture writers Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent report that they “enjoy watching trashy reality shows as much as the next girls”, though they admit that it’s sorta-kinda bad for people. Their piece “Five People Reality Shows Hurt Most” is tongue-in-cheek, and yet I often find myself comparing SYTYCD to other shows by the level of human pain on display.

SYTYCD just isn’t about the nasty, and for that, I love it. Sure, the judges can be harsh, but it’s more about honest, constructive feedback than it is about humiliation. The dancers are treated like technicians and artists whose medium happens to be their bodies, and the guys’ bodies are subject to as much attention as the women’s.

So what’s the worst reality tv show ever? Average Joe is a world of shame. “Family Jewels” is better than it has a right to be (damn you, Gene Simmons), and “Family Business”? Let’s not even go there. “Flavor of Love” is the bottom of the barrel for me. I confess to being glued to it once or twice, watching most of an episode while cringing in fascinated disgust.

The real test: I don’t feel the need to take a shower after I watch SYTYCD.