Gay Girl’s Goggles: “Dancing with the Stars” SnapCap (13.5)


When only four percent of scripted TV shows feature LGBT characters, what’s a gay girl to do? Why, strap on your gay goggles and watch TV along with us, of course! Our handy appraisal scale is better than any old letter grade. Other sites A+. We say, “What about our lezzy-lady feelings?”

As I mentioned in yesterday’s video highlights, Hope Solo continues to defy all attempts to break her spirit with costuming. Once she peeled off the coat that was apparently the result when one of Michael Jackson’s old jackets mated with an overcoat from The Matrix, she actually looked kinda great in early ’80s Madonnawear. (At least she didn’t have to bear the indignity alone; her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy was dressed as the Rum Tum Tugger from an all-pirate production of Cats.)

Anyway, hair down and a mesh top really worked for her. And there was plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of her being super driven and intense, for those who went all squee about that last week. 

When the alien hordes attack from the dimension beyond Hell, we need to give Hope Solo at least a battalion to command. 

The professional dancers were also in fine fettle this week. 

Kym Johnson also went heavy on the mesh in her dance with David Arquette, to no loud complaints. 

Anna Trebunskaya looked amazing in her number with Carson Kressly

And Cheryl Burke managed to look great under what must surely have been trying circumstances.

In more spiritual forms of AfterEllen Bait, The Bangles played a few numbers on performance night. There was a time when women playing the drums and whanging away on electric guitars were still something of a novelty, and the Bangles (née the somewhat naughtier Bangs) reminded a few girl-children out there that it was possible. Good on you, Bangles.

Kelly Clarkson performed on Results Night, for those that are inspired by a fine set of pipes and/or subscribe to that particular rumor mill. (For the record, Ms. Clarkson seems to be graceful but firm in asserting her straightness.) 

Feelings, Feelings, Feelings!

Oh, poor Hope Solo. The producers are constructing a gotta-make-an-emotional-breakthrough storyline for her. (Confidential to Ms. Solo: Watch a back season of America’s Next Top Model if you want to see what they’re trying to get you to do. I have a feeling you won’t like it.) I have mixed feelings (feelings, feelings!) about it because on the one hand it’s contrived and annoying and for crying out loud, just let her attack this challenge any damn way she pleases, but on the other hand the judges do have a glimmer of a point: Solo is guarded when she dances. She focuses on getting everything technically right, but won’t allow herself the emotion that Ricki Lake seems to tap into or the sheer pleasure that Carson KresslyJ.R. Martinez, and Chaz Bono exhibit.

And, wow, Solo is really hard on herself. On results night, we saw a clip of her getting frustrated and briefly teary over the fact that she’s only really good and not perfect – no doubt exacerbated by the fact that one judge told her that she was too strong and another told her she wasn’t strong enough. Way to be helpful, judges! 

Solo already handles the absurd costumes she keeps getting with aplomb, so she’s halfway there. I wish she’d take a page from Carson’s book and just have a great, silly time. This show is insane and, let’s face it, it looks like the producers and judges do a little pinball nudging with the results. If you can’t win in a fair fight, go down laughing.

There were also a bunch of manufactured attempts at generating feelings this week: There were several “surprise” visits from improbable guests. (Note to people planning future birthday parties for Rob Kardashian: You’d better keep a tight lid on it, because he is clinically unable to fake surprise.)    

John Waters came to visit Ricki Lake and for a moment I got all excited because a mere sentence from Waters could have brought this show to its knees, but I guess he decided to let it go for Ricki’s sake. They seemed sweetly fond of each other.

I do not believe for even one nanosecond that whiz-kid dancer J.R. Martinez couldn’t samba and had to go on a journey to get back in touch with his Latin roots, but he was awfully good-natured about going along with that nonsensical made-up storyline, so what the hell. He gets points for being a sport.

The best visit was from Lacey Schwimmer’s dad, who is quite the hoofer and freaking adorable. In addition to the treat of just getting to see Mr. Schwimmer and his moves, it genuinely seemed to help Chaz realize that you don’t need to have a particular body type to look good on the dance floor. Yay, happy endings and positivity! And yay, Chaz in general!

Athletic Spectacle

It wasn’t a huge week for athletic spectacle except for when Carson and Anna blew the roof off the joint with their cheerleading number.

Ricki and Derek Hough dropped a Roger Rabbit into their number, which was lighthearted and fun and totally appropriate for ’80s night, so of course they got dinged for it. 

The Troupe did a bunch of dancing because there are fewer and fewer couples and the results show only has 45 seconds of real information, which means Dancing with the Stars has more filler than the collected faces of Beverly Hills. I keep expecting them to just put the camera on some Styrofoam peanuts for half an hour. 

In addition to dancing to Kelly Clarkson and The Bangles, The Troupe danced in front of a country group that I was really, really hoping was called The Band Fairies, but it turned out they were The Band Perry. Band Perry, I will sign over that far more awesome name to you for a modest fee. You’re welcome. 

There was also a spotlight dance featuring Charm Ladonna,  who has overcome so many hard times that I almost put this into the “Feelings, Feelings, Feelings!” category. But that would take away from her dancing, which was great and perfectly synchronized with Troupe members Derek and Mark. Well done.

Fighting Monsters

Once again, Rob Kardashian has surged ahead of Nancy Grace in monsterness. Oof, these two. It’s like being forced to watch Godzilla and Mothra drag race. 

Grace was once again vicious during her behind-the-scenes footage, but it’s so clearly because she is just a Newscaster Shag hairdo balanced on top of a swirling cauldron of insecurities that I’m starting to feel pity for her. And she was actually gracious to Tristan for 30 seconds this week, which is a new high. 

I know: This is going to turn out like that moment in the zombie movie when a secondary character hesitates to shoot one of the walking dead and ends up with a chomped-out jugular, but there it is. I’m sure I would feel differently if I saw a few minutes of Grace’s shouty, repellent show, but I avoid that at all costs. Seriously: I’ll pull an Oedipus if I have to. 

Don’t worry, though – DWTS is determined to help Rob Kardashian pick up the slack. This week he was supposed to be (Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew) sexy. It was depressing and faintly repugnant. 

Note to impressionable young bi or straight girls who are thinking about Rob Kardashian for even one second: Watch his dance and rehearsal footage again. He thinks “sensual” means grabbing a sensitive body part and mashing it. You can do better. I promise. 

Oh, and you know how I mentioned earlier how this show seems to be just the tiniest bit, ah, predetermined?

Instead of the judges saying that Kardashian has gotten mildly better at his stolid tromping around the dance floor and scoring him accordingly, every single one of them claimed that Rob is turning into a “sexy leading man” and a masterful dancer who really took control, every piece of which is an obvious, outright lie. And they gave him a 25 – higher than Ricki, Chaz, Nancy, Carson, and Hope, and tied with David Arquette. 

Look, DWTS producers, that fix is way too obviously in. If you’d wanted a charming young man for the teen girls to swoon over, you should have thought of that earlier and cast one. And shame on you judges for going along with this bushwah.

Speaking of judges, I am retiring Bruno The Judge Who Needs You To Know He Has Had Sex from the monster category. He is the most predictable of one-trick ponies and thus easy to ignore. I don’t even hear the words he makes anymore; he just sounds like one of the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. 

Also? Bruno was the only one to give Carson and Anna the seven they deserved. If it weren’t for his shameless participation in the Rob Kardashian farce, he’d be, well, not OK in my book, but a minor and relatively harmless annoyance. 

A new monster, however, has risen to take his place, and her insidious nature makes her all the more deadly. Carrie Ann, who most often appears in my show notes as “Useless Judge,” is revealing herself to be quite the creeping horror. 

She’s already docked people’s scores for being ambitious in their dancing and doing lifts, and she is the main repeat offender for claiming Hope Solo is “too strong” and not feminine enough, as she did again this week. She also docked Martinez for “adding humor” a couple of weeks ago and consistently lowballs Carson and Chaz, because why should an audience care about whether dancers are at all fun to watch when you can focus on docking them for technique? 

She also does this soul-shredding thing where she tries to be “fun” and “spontaneous” and ends up going “Whooooooooooo!” for herself, which is exactly, exactly what the hosts used to do on the cruise ships I worked on when they realized that they were dealing with people who needed to be alerted to the fact that they were having a good time. 

It’s even more despair-inducing when Carrie Ann tries to be funny (or, as I’m sure she thinks of it, “hazards a moment of delightful jocularity”). What she does is shout a phrase that someone else has already used and must be “humorous” because other people seemed to respond in a positive manner. For example, after Chaz danced this week, she yelled “Shake it but don’t break it ‘cause your mama took nine months to make iiiiiit!” while bobbing her head around and putting on an affected “funky” voice because isn’t that so fun and original and witty? Yelling something that someone else already made up? 

So Carrie Ann clings to raw technique regardless of the flair with which it may be applied, can’t handle anyone who’s even a tiny bit outside traditional gender roles, hates (but tries to fake) fun and spontaneity, and abhors humor to the point that she tries to eliminate it from performances. 

What I’m trying to say is that Carrie Ann the Useless Judge is some sort of cyborg, possibly built by the Daleks. I feel bad that I didn’t spot it sooner. I should have warned you. 

We need to stay vigilant and keep an eye on her, because her mission is to eliminate every shred of pleasure from this show. Case in point:



I just wrote like five tries at a sentence and had to keep deleting them because of all the swearing.

I don’t understand what is wrong with this show or with humanity in general. How can people let the very embodiment of joy and magic slip off the air, yet continue to take valuable time out of their evenings to vote for Cruella and the Feckless Smog Monster? 

Unless, you know, it has something to do with the completely non-transparent scoring system. I can’t imagine what. 

But enough of that. Carson left like a gentleman, and with an inspiring message to boot, urging us all to try new things and have fun and not worry about whether we’re doing it well; just focus on enjoying the doing. 

I’ll miss you, Carson. I think we all will. 

Let’s take one last look at him and Anna as we love them best, and then go forth and dance. 

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