It only took 18 seasons (and nearly a decade) for me to tune in to even a minute of ABC's Dancing With the Stars. I'll admit that nostalgia for some of my cherished '90s TV stars Candace Cameron Bure and Danica McKellar, combined with a small crush on boy-bander James Maslow, piqued my interest. But halfway through that first episode, I knew right away that I was hooked.
What started as unexpected enjoyment has quickly evolved into a mild obsession. I get mad when a team's score seems unjust or excited when a duo nails their performance. I get nervous when one of my favorites is deemed "unsafe." I can't get enough of the behind-the-scenes action, the fun banter and watching the relationships develop between the stars and their pros.
As an entertainment journalist, it can get tiresome watching TV when I'm not writing or writing when I'm not watching, not to mention doing both at the same time. To find a show that for me is just pure fun and enjoyment is a rare thing — even if, in the end, I end up writing about it.
So here are some of the reasons why I've fallen for Dancing:
The '90s may have made a big comeback this year, but for me, the decade has never gone out of style. So like I said, Bure and McKellar were selling points for this season of Dancing, but ABC certainly did a good job of playing up the nostalgia factor. Constantly pitting the two against each other, the show even capitalized on the fact that they both dated Growing Pains' Jeremy Miller back in the day — and had him cheer them on in Episode 2.
In six seasons of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, have you ever seen NeNe Leakes cry? Following her performance in Week 5, the tough-as-nails reality star fought to hold back tears as her partner Tony Dovolani embraced her. The next week, the taped package showed even more footage of NeNe in hysterics backstage, with the mic catching her honest fear that she upset her partner. While it's not as surprising to see someone like the more sensitive Bure shed a tear, there was something way more realistic about this portrayal of NeNe than there is about the "reality" space where we usually see her.
It's been said week after week, but Amy Purdy is nothing short of incredible. To sum up, Purdy's legs were amputated when she was 19 after she suffered septic shock resulting from meningitis. Purdy began snowboarding after she got prosthetics, and she won the bronze medal at this year's Paralympic games. Partnered with Derek Hough, Amy isn't just a good dancer in spite of having prosthetics — she's just a good dancer. Period. In Week 3's "Most Memorable Year," Amy brought me — and the judges and viewers alike — to tears while talking about that fateful year, and shared that her father had donated a kidney to her. She soon had the strength to dance — before she could even walk — with her dad, and Dancing aired the heartwarming footage before Amy's impressive contemporary number.
Great live TV moments
Maks might've just been being Maks, but guest judge Abby Lee Miller was a little thrown off when the Dancing pro shot back at her criticisms. The result? Pure awkwardness. Host Tom Bergeron has also provided more than a few comical moments with his off-the-cuff one-liners about Bruno Tonioli's over-the-top personality or Mark Ballas' penchant for taking baths with figurines. Even new co-host Erin Andrews has gotten in some good ones during her backstage interviews.
Whether or not Maks and Meryl Davis are dating, doing it, or just close friends, I have become obsessed with watching these two share a screen. From what I've been told Maks was quite the bad boy, but seeing how vulnerable he is with Meryl warms my heart. Plus: Damn, these two can dance. Elsewhere, Peta and James' obvious attraction to each other is like watching a love connection unfold before your eyes.
(Almost) every girl's dream
Who didn't take a dance class at some point in their adolescent life? I certainly did. (I may have danced to New Kids on the Block in a town talent show or two.) My days of dancing on stage may have ended with my Bat Mitzvah performance to "Rhythm Nation," but for a while I still secretly hoped I'd make it as a backup dancer for Miss Janet. While I may no longer have that fantasy, there's a part of me that watches Dancing thinking about how fun it would be to get back on that stage — preferably with the help of a pro by my side.
Have you fallen for Dancing? Share what got you hooked in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars' two-part finale airs on Monday and Tuesday at 8/7c on ABC.
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