Let’s Rank: The Dancing with the Stars Season 18 Cast

Dancing with the Stars (Photo: ABC)
Dancing with the Stars (Photo: ABC)

Dancing with the Stars returns in less than two weeks, and ABC announced who will be competing for the Mirror Ball Trophy. Who are the ringers and who is fodder for ill-advised sambas and rumbas?

Billy Dee Williams

Claim to fame: Actor, Malt Liquor Enthusiast

Brings to the Ballroom: Now that Disney owns the Star Wars franchise, the man who played Lando Calrissian is the first to appear on the show.1 However, as one of the oldest competitors in the field and not exactly someone who resonates with the DWTS demo, the only thing that will get him past week one would be a secret Arthur Murray past.

Candace Cameron Bure

Claim to fame: Played D.J. Tanner on Full House

Brings to the Ballroom: A resurgence of Full House in pop culture2 seems to be behind this decision. Aside from possible occasional visits from John Stamos, Candace will need to show some skills from the get-go if she wants to last more than a week or two.

Drew Carey

Claim to fame: Comedian, current host of The Price is Right

Brings to the Ballroom: I imagine there is a fair amount of audience crossover between his show and DWTS. Drew’s improv background from Whose Line is it Anyway? has a chance of creating either entertaining or grating rehearsal footage. I probably have him ranked too low, but he seems like someone who could get hurt in scoring due to some unlucky dance style assignments early on.

Danica McKellar

Claim to fame: Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, also MATH

Brings to the Ballroom: The throwback votes that Candace would have gotten on a different season of the show will likely go to Danica. After Wonder Years left the air, she went on to pursue a PhD in Mathematics and has carried the torch for getting young women involved in the sciences. So…feminism? I’m not sure how much of an asset that will be on this show, but I’ll be #TeamDanica until she gets a surprise early boot.

Diana Nyad

Claim to fame: At age 63, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage

Brings to the ballroom: I mean, she must be in halfway decent shape, so the rigor of the competition shouldn’t be too much for her to handle. She will be the oldest woman in the competition, but I don’t expect her to get lost the way Valerie Harper did last season. However, Diana is paired with new pro Henry Byalikov, so there is a wild card in play here.

Amy Purdy

Claim to Fame: Double-amputee paralympic snowboarder

Brings to the ballroom: Amy has a lock on inspirational stories for the competition. Also, as an Olympic-level athlete, she won’t have to worry about the rigors of the competition either. Amy is paired with Derek Hough, which could be a liability in terms of how much of the spotlight he shares with his partner.

NeNe Leakes

Claim to fame: Real Housewife from Atlanta, muse for Ryan Murphy

Brings to the ballroom: There is definitely audience crossover, as NeNe is not the only Real Housewife to compete. This also isn’t her first competitive reality experience, having been a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice back in 2011. As long as she keeps her cool when interacting with the judges and shows improvement week-to-week, NeNe could be a major player this season.

Cody Simpson / James Maslow

Claims to fame: Disney/Nickelodeon Teen Pop Starz SQUEEEE (or some combination thereof)

Bring to the ballroom: Normally there’s only one slot for someone of this celebrity type, but DWTS is doubling down this season. I know nothing about either of these guys, other than if they are part of the typical mould they would have been working on the required skills since birth (and perhaps before). Maslow has the slight edge, given that Simpson is an Aussie who has entered the D/NTPSS machine as entree to the US market.

Sean Avery

Claim to fame: Former NHL player, occasional model

Brings to the ballroom: Avery is a man of firsts. He’s the first professional hockey player to compete on Dancing with the Stars, he’s the source of a handful of controversies in his sport, and he’s one of the first athletes to come out in support of same-sex marriage. He will have the agility and strength needed to be successful on the show, and as long as he doesn’t get into a hockey fight with Len, he could go quite far. That is unless he has the dance style of Keyshawn Johnson and is first to go.

Charlie White / Meryl Davis

Claims to fame: 2014 Gold Medalists in Ice Dancing

Bring to the ballroom: Uh, gold medals in the sport of ice dancing? They are the ringiest ringers that ever rang. Unless they have awful personalities (like, George and Martha from Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? awful), there is no way they aren’t getting to the finals and claiming the Mirror Ball Trophy.

  1. How did that honor not go to Carrie Fisher?  
  2. Sidebar: what the hell, America?  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv
  • Clare Snyder

    The only problem I can foresee with the ice dancers is that they will likely split the votes for their shared fanbase. They are undoubtedly ringers but their fans will need to vote twice as much to overtake the juggernaut that IS Winnie Cooper. The one I’m most excited about? You guessed it: NeNe. She was amazing on Celebrity Apprentice!

    • Unless the judges hold the ice dancers to a higher standard (which would be inconsistent with the last 17 seasons), the vote split shouldn’t hurt too much. Also, if one of them ends up in danger, the voter backlash will be crazy. They’re like the Ice Climbers in Smash Bros!

      But yes, NeNe will be fantastic.