Strictly Come Dancing 2017: Part 2
I could be very philosophical about Strictly Come Dancing and describe how the judges scrutinise and mark the contestants on technique, viewing their performances through the prism of their own professional experiences. Conversely, the public react and elect to support the celebrities far more emotively; championing potential underdogs and showing solidarity with those they feel have been poorly treated. However, such Janusian analogies are unnecessary and ultimately pointless, because the show is primarily for entertainment and not a dancing competition, although the professional dancers may not see it that way. Also, as we saw demonstrated once again tonight, Strictly Come Dancing is a popularity contest and the only thing that really matters is convincing the public to vote for you.
This evening (well technically the show was recorded Saturday night), Mollie and AJ found themselves in the dance off along with Simon and Karen. Simon’s presence was far from a surprise. Despite his steadfast “have a go” attitude and pleasant manner, his level of attainment has plateaued of late, so it was only right, being bottom of the leader board, for him to be up for elimination. However, Mollie had scored a healthy 27 points, with her Cha Cha to "Better the Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue. Furthermore, Mollie has shown improvement in her technique and is by no means one of the weakest celebrities in the show at present. Hence, the judges were somewhat surprised to see her in the dance off, although it can be clearly attributed to the public vote. However, this does raise the question why did the public not support her?
There are numerous reasons and potential theories as to why celebrities that perform well, still find themselves in the dance off. It has happened often enough over the last 15 seasons of the show for it not to be such a surprise, although it can still be quite jarring. The most obvious one that comes to mind is that the public assumes that those celebrities that perform well also have a strong fan base that will naturally support them. “I don’t need to vote for [insert series front runner here], they’ll be alright. I’ll vote for [insert name of alternative, possible underdog here], co’s they deserve a helping hand”. Then if we consider broader and possibly less charitable possibilities, people may vote tactically because they do not want someone to succeed. As I mentioned earlier a lot of viewers do react to the show very emotively. Furthermore, Strictly Come Dancing is reported heavily in the tabloid press which is happy perpetuate rumours and gossip. It could be a case that Mollie King doesn’t find favour with certain core viewer demographics.
I heard some people argue that Strictly Come Dancing is skewed by the public voting and it would be fairer if the judges to simply decide. I won’t discount such ideas but if that were the case, then the show would be far less popular. It is the public vote and audience interaction that is part of the program’s success and appeal. At a time when many people feel marginalised and having little control over their lives, the importance of a tangible public vote that demonstrably delivers results should not be discounted. The other thing that we shouldn’t ignore is the significance of the “journey”. Although it is great to see celebrities that take to dancing quickly, it does make for dull viewing if someone is habitually great every week. People like to see the celebrities grow and blossom. It’s a winning formula and accounts why some of the winners haven’t always been the bookies favourite. So, I suspect we may see a few more upsets like tonight’s in the weeks to come.