The live shows are here! We’re finally through the extremely long process of auditions that lasts as many weeks as the live shows themselves for some reason. So here I am, attempting to recap this show for the first time.
There is so much I love about this show, which is why I enthusiastically watch it every summer. I love how unlike most reality television, SYTYCD seems like a genuinely supportive environment. Sure, there is some emphasis on character storylines because that’s how you get people to pick up the phone and vote for their favorite dancers; however, the main focus of the show isn’t about creating manufactured drama. It’s about dancing and genuinely fostering an environment where these talented people can push themselves to become even better. The judging, for all of its faults (which I will get into a lot this season, probably), is constructive. These judges really want to see these dancers improve and grow from this experience. What’s more, it seems like a good majority of the people who get on this show go on to have successful careers in dance following this process. That’s a lot more than I can say for many other reality TV shows (-cough- ANTM -cough-).
But there's also a lot that annoys me about this show, which is why I feel like it's worth recapping and not just complacently watching. I don't want to get into all my gripes right away because I have the whole season to cover them, but just as a start... I hate how they keep changing the format (it's not saving your ratings, boos) and I hate how they're always congratulating each other for their Emmy nominations. How many choreographed dances are on TV anyway? I'm not saying y'all ain't great, but is the competition super stiff? It seems like Travis wall just gets nominated every year.
Anyway, let’s get into this episode, shall we?
I've thought about how I'm going to format these recaps, and I've decided there's really no reason for me to get into every routine. It'll take too much time, and after hearing the judges' feedback on all 11 routines, they've been talked to death. So instead, I will focus on the most notable routines of the night (notable for good or bad reasons) and I will call out the stupid shit the judges say (because Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe, and Vanessa Hudgens are all terrible for various reasons. tWitch is pure and wonderful and I won't hear a bad word spoken about him). Lastly, if there are any other rando thoughts, I will bring them up at the end. Like, you know, if the lovely Cat Deeley is looking especially tall one day. You get the idea.
Oh. Also. I will hardly ever bring up the group routines because here's a hot take. The group routines are boring. I hate them. I mostly just zone out during them. There's either too much going on or not enough going on. I just have nothing to say. So swiftly moving on to what I do care about.
As I mentioned previously, this show keeps switching up the format for some godforsaken reason. Last season, they had a top 10, but each dancer was paired off with an "All Star" for the entire season. This was dumb because the "All Star" was supposed to serve as their mentor, but often the new dancer was a better dancer than their "All Star" so WTF. So I was pleased to see the show going back to the old tried and true coupling format. Each of the top 10 dancers was paired off with another dancer, and the couple performed two numbers, one in the male dancer's genre and one in the genre of the female dancer. I was into this. This worked for me.
Of the dances, Genessy and Slavik's hip hop routine (choreographed by Luther Brown) was one that stood out to me. These two seem to have genuine chemistry with one another, and I loved how effortless and chill this dance seemed, even though it clearly took a lot of effort to get right. Their Talia Favia choreographed contemporary performance later on in the show was also pretty phenomenal, which sealed the deal for me and made them easily my favorite couple of the night.
But since I think (who knows? the format keeps changing!) an individual will win the title of America's Favorite Dancer, let's talk about who stood out as individuals in these dance routines.
Every season, I usually comment that the female dancers, as a whole, seem more talented than the male dancers and the competition on their end seems much more stacked. Not so this season. Basically every dude this season is giving me life, and I hate to think any of them might go next week. But of all of the guys, Latin ballroom dancer Cole Mills was the one that blew me away last night. Just check him out in this Tyce Diorio contemporary routine. Y'all. That one-armed handstand was insane. And this isn't even anywhere near his style. And it's the first week. Later in the night, he and partner Hannahlei performed a Paso Doble (choreographed by Jean-Marc Généreux) that was pretty stiff and meh, but unfortunately I have to blame Hannahlei for that one. Cole was much better than she was in both of these dances, IMHO.
As for the girls, right now as an individual, Latin ballroom dancer Magda Fialek is killing it. I feel like everyone will be talking about the Travis Wall contemporary routine because everyone has a hard on for Travis Wall. However, what I loved most was the Cha-Cha she and partner Darius performed at the end of the show (choreographed by Val of Dancing with the Stars fame). The only negative thing I have to say about that Cha-Cha is this: WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH DARIUS'S PANTS? Otherwise, it was perfection.
Yo, I just realized both of my individual faves are Latin ballroom dancers. That never happens.
Moving on to the... JUDGES!
This week, I have to highlight the fuckery that is Nigel Lythgoe. Sure, he's probably not all bad. He is responsible for this lovely show, after all. On the other hand, he's sexist, trans and homophobic, racist, and prejudiced against Hip Hop dancers. Also he keeps trying to make tap dancing cool again and it's JUST NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. Tap dancing is hard, sure, but it doesn't make for good TV, Nigel. Let it go.
Every week, just to prove my point, I will highlight some of the dumb stuff Nigel says on the show. This week's gems: he called Hannahlei and "warrior princess" and then went on to list a lot of other small Asian girls who had been past contestants on the show that he also considered "warrior princesses." Racist. Creepy. Weird.
Next, he criticized Jensen (GUYS DID YOU KNOW JENSEN IS LINDSAY ARNOLD'S SISTER? Also, Jensen's sister is Lindsay Arnold. DID YOU KNOW THAT?) for being "too sexy" in a way that came off as super creepy old dude. Yes, I agree Jensen needs to work on her expressions, but that's just because she does that weird mugging thing that a lot of ballroom dancers do. It's not because she's "too sexy."
That's really all I've got for the judges this week. Normally, I'll probably also complain about how dumb Vanessa Hudgens is (no shade, girl. Loved you in HSM 1, 2, & 3, but you're not smart) and how loud Mary Murphy is in addition to giving you my Nigel highlights of the week. But this week, I feel like Nigel needed his own time to shine. So shine on, you racist creepy old man diamond.
Lastly, I just want to note that So You Think You Can Dance is adding something to its prize package this year that I am quite excited about. FOX will be doing a live production of Rent on Sunday, January 27, 2019, and I AM HERE FOR IT. Oh right. The prize. The winner of SYTYCD will get to be in the show! Super cool. Also I'm so excited about RENT!!!
Catch you guys on the Hot Tamale Train (TM) next week!