"Bachelorette" star "Grocery Store Joe" seems like a nice enough guy, if a little full of himself, but he is genuinely terrible at dancing. After this week, he's performed five dances in front of the judges and he actually appears to be getting worse each week.
And yet, it doesn't seem to matter what the guy does. He could stand there in the middle of the dance floor and do nothing for a minute and a half and the girls would scream and vote him through. No matter how low his scores go, he's never in danger and he flies through again.
It's like Sanjaya from "American Idol" all those years ago, and we find ourselves wondering how long he can go and how many better dancers must suffer because of his ridiculous fanbase? This week, it was one of the front-runners to win, who shouldn't have gone this early no matter what's going on with Joe.
Is America even watching this show?
Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I've spent the last sixteen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
Juan Pablo Di Pace & Cheryl Burke (w/ Melissa Rycroft)
What a cool cha cha with a very sexy vibe. Juan Pablo had no problem looking like the master of both of his partners, with a very commanding stage presence, some awesome hip action and performance. The cha cha elements were handled beautifully, and the switch partnering was very slick. This was a sensual and steamy performance that you simply could not stop watching, even when Juan Pablo stumbled slightly with his footing, which wasn't very often. I thought his tight control fit the tone beautifully.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8
My Score: 9
Tinashe & Brandon Armstrong (w/ Amy Purdy)
Brandon didn't do as good of a job at choreographing for three as he usually does for two, leaving this tango looking a bit repetitive for me, and making the third dancer look a bit of a third wheel during the partnering elements. That said, Tinashe handled the tango extremely well when she was doing it, and gave some great footwork and partnering. This is a near-impossible task pulling off a trio tango, but Brandon brought plenty of solid tango content and both ladies executed it very well.
Emma did a great job of visualizing this battle between two gods over her. Oddly enough, she was a little unsteady on her feet at the top (which she blames on her hair snakes getting caught on John's outfit), and a little hesitant in some of the lifts as is there were some trust issues, but everything proved to be a success throughout that performance. John outperformed Joey in carriage and precision, and the intent of his footwork throughout this Argentine tango, which is as it should be. As a showcase piece, it was truly enjoyable to watch.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7
My Score: 7
Evanna Lynch & Keo Motsepe (w/ Scarlett Byrne)
It's a little disappointing that Keo's more successful lift was with Scarlett, but props to Evanna for going for it. There wasn't as much salsa content in this trio routine as there could have been, but it was a fun piece, and Evanna definitely attacked it with growing confidence. She actually got down and dirty with her hips, grinding into the floor more than we've seen in the past, but this commitment was inconsistent. As the dance progressed, she actually started to look tired or distracted. The growth she's shown already, though, could make her one to watch in the weeks to come.
DeMarcus Ware & Lindsay Arnold (w/ Rashad Jennings)
Both DeMarcus and Rashad were a little soft and heavy in this paso doble, with neither of them projecting tall and commanding at times when it felt like they should have. There's a sharpness and fluid grace that couples with the strength and presence of a paso and it felt like it was lacking from both men, though that could come down to the choreography choices. The concept was great but the execution lost that awesome flare that makes the paso doble so unique in the world of Latin dance.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 8
My Score: 6
Mary Lou Retton & Sasha Farber (w/ Nastia Liukin)
This may have been the most enjoyable routine of the night, if just for Sasha's bright and cheerful Charleston choreography. The lift combos both Mary Lou and Nastia (separately and together) were just breathtaking to behold, even if Mary Lou was a little slow coming down from one. The Charleston content was infectious and full of energy, even if they kept the camera so far back we couldn't quite see the ankle swivels, and all three dancers were in wonderful unison. There is a joyousness that permeates every step of this performance, leaving a smile on every face that watches it.
The very last joint lift flip almost ended in disaster, but this was an incredibly successful, and fast, salsa that Witney choreographed. Milo did a great job of owning his full height, but digging into the floor as needed to get the groove and grind right. His arms and posture looked greatthroughout that. Yes, Witney shined a little brighter at times, but she is a spitfire on the dance floor, and she can't help but draw eyes to her on dances like this. Nevertheless, Mile acquitted himself admirably in keeping in step with her and that toss where he threw her over his head and into Riker's arms was just mesmerizing to watch.
Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10
My Score: 9
Joe Amabile & Jenna Johnson (w/ Jordan Kimball)
Absolutely nothing about this disaster worked, excpet that Jordan is about as stiff and uncomfortable dancing as Joe is. Jenna did her best with this trio, and turned in a fun-looking salsa choreography, but there was zero hip action and virtually no recognizable salsa content from Joe. He can't even lean back, it's like classic Frankenstein's monster stiffness with this guy. At one point, he lost the music and couldn't find his way back, making it look like maybe he has no musicality or rhythm, either. He carries himself like he's just too cool for this show. Honestly, when will America be ready to let him go, because he hasn't improved a bit since Week 1, and might have actually gotten worse here.
Now that was a fantastically realized trio tango, perhaps the most challenging style to choreograph with three people. Alan did a great job of spotlighting Alexis throughout that dance, without wasting Maddie's natural talent and strength. They created some very interesting and cool pictures throughout the piece, but so much of it was proper tango, in mostly proper hold with fierce footwork, angles and precision. This was a beauty from top to bottom.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 9
My Score: 9
Bobby Bones & Sharna Burgess (w/ Lindsey Stirling)
Bobby was terrible in the slight cha cha portions, but not much better in the MC Hammer portions. Honestly, Sharna had an interesting idea here, but she needed a much stronger dancer in some style to even come close to pulling this off. Even Lindsey, who nearly won a season of this show, looked hesitant and uncertain throughout that. Honestly, if not for the existence of Joe's awful dance earlier in the night, this would have been the biggest misfire by far. At least he walked through most of the steps, even if with none of the proper form or technique.
The first couple in jeopardy was Evanna & Keo, which is just damned frustrating, as they were one of the strongest couples of the night. "Harry Potter " fans, where are you? And then, Tinashe & Brandon? Seriously?!
This is becoming one of the most maddening opening weeks of any season on this show when neither Bobby Bones nor Joe Amabile find themselves in jeopardy, despite consistently low marks from the judges, while Tinashe can bring in the second best score of the night and find herself here. And Evanna wasn't that far behind.
In the end, after weeks in the bottom, it was the end of the road for Tinashe & Brandon and there is no justice left in the world. Clearly this isn't a show about quality dancing, because Tinashe has been bringing it every week. So what are we doing here?
Sure, growth and progression are fun to watch, but neither Joe nor Bobby are showing any of that, if we're being totally honest. Sure, Bobby's a hoot to watch, and Joe is hot, but aren't we better than that? Apparently not.
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET, and check out new companion show, "Dancing With the Stars: Juniors," Sunday at 8 p.m .ET on ABC.