“Dancing with the Stars”: A Survival Guide for Lesbian and Bi Viewers

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Hi there. 

As some of you know, I SnapCapped the last season of Dancing with the Stars. The Benevolent Powers That Be at AfterEllen.com thought there might be an interest because Team LGBT members Chaz Bono and Carson Kressly were on. There was also a suspicion that there might be a teeny bit of interest in fellow competitor Hope Solo

Well, this season Martina Navratilova will be on, and she is awesome. She’s one of the best tennis players ever to walk the planet, whether you’re talking about singles, doubles, or mixed doubles. She also came out in 1981. Since she also won her third Grand Slam in 1981 and then kept right on slamming, I’m guessing that outness cost her roughly eight kajillion dollars in endorsement deals. 

Attention must be paid to such a woman, so in honor of Navratilova I’m sending out the Ball Signal: It is now your duty to watch Dancing with the Stars and vote your hearts out. 

But don’t just jump into this. That way lies madness. 

I had never seen Dancing with the Stars before I started recapping, and I don’t mind telling you that I was completely blindsided by it. I never recovered from the initial shock and spent the season convulsing with rage and throwing bric-a-brac at my television. 

Here are a few things you need to understand in order to make sure you are properly braced for the experience. 

It’s really bad. 

WAIT! Don’t just assume I’m talking about run-of-the-mill reality competition bad and then go skipping off all carefree like that. Dancing with the Stars might be the most soul-destroying television I’ve ever seen. 

And no, I haven’t just been hanging out in my ivory tower watching documentaries and quality dramas. I have watched Temptation Island. I have seen episodes of three different Housewives series. I watched all but two of this year’s GOP primary debates. 

I’ll say it again: Dancing with the Stars might be the most soul-destroying television I’ve ever seen. 

What, you need specifics? Fine. 

It has more filler than your last eight Thanksgiving turkeys combined.

The basic premise of Dancing with the Stars is already way less fun than it should be. 

What it should be is a show where enthusiastic but nondangerous superfans get to compete while dancing with their favorite celebrities, who they only meet for the first time on the first day of rehearsal. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t be amazing television, not to mention a moving look at the joys and crashing disappointments of the human heart. 

But that’s not what it is. Instead, celebrities – or in some cases, “celebrities,” – are paired with professional dancers. The dances theoretically get more challenging, but we’re still only talking about a matter of weeks here, so it kind of comes down to who is already a good dancer when he or she comes in and then whatever irrational and immovable loves or hatreds the judges take up towards certain contestants. 

That means there isn’t a ton of real suspense. Last season, even the most casual viewer could spot two of the three finalists midway through the first episode. The Dancing with the Stars producers throw a ton of ridiculous film packages and made-up drama at you in the hopes that you won’t notice. 

Show: Sure, there are two clear standouts here and only two more contestants with a realistic shot at the third slot, but have you ever wondered who had the worst childhood? Let’s find out! 

You: The hell? 

Also, you already know everyone’s score on dance night, so the “results” night has, at most, fifteen seconds worth of real information: Who got kicked off? 

The results show is, for real, up to two hours long. Sometimes you’ll get extra dance numbers from The Troupe or a guest star in there, but much of the time it’s eight thousand clips of what you just saw 24 hours ago. Sometimes it’s more Competing Life Tragedy video clips. And sometimes, heaven help us all, there are “humorous” video packages involving wacky jokes and skits. These packages seem to be written by people who are kept in caves and never allowed to see the sun. Then they are handed the dictionary definitions of the words “joke” and “funny,” fed powerful depressants, and told to have at it with the wacky yuk yuks. 

You know how an animal caught in a trap will get so desperate that it chews its own foot off to survive? Whatever you do, do not try to watch the results show live. For your own safety, record it and watch it with the remote in your hand. 

Not next to you on the couch, not nearby on the table. In. Your. Hand. 

I watch the whole thing, but I am an experienced professional. Plus I watch while biting down on a leather strap and keep a stack of off-brand china handy for smashing. I’m already resigned to not getting my security deposit back because of all the divots in the walls from thrown shot glasses. There’s no reason you should go down with me. 

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