Now that Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy have claimed the mirror ball trophy, let’s take a look at this season of Dancing with the Stars.
Overall, the eighteenth season of Dancing with the Stars was surprisingly good, despite the inevitableness of the outcome. There was a degree of talent, particularly from runner-up Amy Purdy and fourth-place finisher James Maslow, that was unexpected and created an engaging narrative arc through the ten-week competition. Yes, Olympic ice dancing gold medalist Meryl Davis was going to win once the cast was announced, but the show was smart in making the narrative about how this would be the first time long-time professional partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy took home a trophy.
When the cast was announced, I did a post predicting how things would shake out. Let’s see how I did.
Billy Dee Williams: I was wrong about him being the first to go. Who knew that the Ewok enthusiast lobby was so strong? However, he was medically disqualified in week three, so I was right about him not being in for the long haul.
Candace Cameron Bure: We got Lori Loughlin instead of John Stamos in the audience1, and the Full House resurgence may have been what carried Candace all the way to third place. I did feel kind of bad for Mark Ballas, though. He did not seem to enjoy this partnership as much as previous seasons, and his recent shoulder injury made his last few routines incredibly difficult to watch.
Drew Carey: Although he lasted a few weeks, I had forgotten he was part of the cast this season until he popped up in the finale. He had fun, and that’s what counts.
Danica McKellar: She was such a refreshing presence on the show. I was right in that she got a surprise early boot, only in that she didn’t make it to at least the semi-finals.
Diana Nyad: I am genuinely surprised she was one of the first eliminated contestants. Granted, her dancing skills were…minimal, but she had greater long-term potential than Billy Dee Williams. She received almost no screen time on the finale, so she may have been an error in casting.
Amy Purdy: Real talk: I’m bummed she didn’t win. Although I was concerned that Amy would be outshined by Derek, I actually found myself respecting Hough for his incredible choreography this season. He took full advantage of Amy’s legs whenever he could, creating some of the best dances I have seen on any competition show.
NeNe Leakes: She lasted about as long as I would have guessed on Dancing with the Stars, but I found her to be more subdued than I expected. That is until the week after the switch-up, when she told her partner Tony Dovolani to suck it up when he was whining about the twist. That was a great moment, and I appreciate her contribution to the season.
Cody Simpson: He was another one I had forgotten about until the finale. The only thing shocking about his elimination was that host Tom Bergeron referred to it as a “shocking” early elimination.
James Maslow: I didn’t know one thing about James before the season started. I now follow him on twitter because ABS. He should have finished ahead of Candace, but I’m glad his freestyle earned the encore in the finale.2
Sean Avery: Sooooooo wrong about that one. I still think he had a potentially strong story arc as the reluctant savant, but his super dry sense of humor probably rubbed everyone the wrong way.
Charlie White: I can understand from a talent perspective why it was shocking Charlie was eliminated at all, but his personality did him in. It is okay to be frustrated on an audience vote show, but your frustration needs to be constructive (“We were so close…what do we need to do now?”) instead of petulant (“We deserved 10s.”). Charlie wasn’t unlikable, he just had too many unlikable moments.
Meryl Davis: Called it. Good job, though.