SYTYCD finds its top 20, including three tap dancers, after an hour of lame fake-outs

So You Think You Can Dance‘s sixth season has its top 20, and that includes its first-ever krumper and three tap dancers. Now the dancing can really begin. Oh, wait: First, there’s a “meet the top 20″ special episode Monday, which Nigel Lythgoe says “let’s the top 20 perform in their own styles & not in competition. You can see just how brilliant they all are.” Then the competition begins Tuesday.

Fox’s web site has bios for each of the 20 finalists; among the group is the first-ever semi-finalist krumper, and three tap dancers. The judges also put through that mediocre dancer, Ashleigh, likely because they thought a couple would be entertaining (she’s married to Ryan), but only allegedly because another dancer rejected the top-20 offer. (“I’ve actually been offered a contract for a movie so I can’t do the show,” Paula told the judges.) I can’t imagine Ashleigh would have been included had it not been for the storyline of their relationship, which of course will soon be crushed when she finally is eliminated.

Contestants faced the full panel of judges and learned their fate, and nearly every person who made it got some variation on the fake-out, where the judges start off with apparently negative news and then surprise them. “Unfortunately, we all are really sorry to say, how sad it is, that we can’t find any more entertaining way of saying you’re in the competition than with awkward sentences like this one woo crazytime aren’t we funny for manipulating you emotionally for entertainment!” So can we just end with the judge fake-outs now? Seriously, those are nearly pointless now because of their predictability, and even when someone really gets rejected, they’re waiting for the punchline.

By the way, on what will probably be her last episode, Mia Michaels (who recently quit the show) was telling a contestant he made it through to the top 20, and said, “recently, I haven’t had a lot of things go my way, and it’s really cool to know that it is going my way today, because you know what, you’re going to be in our top 20.” While that could have been a reference to something totally unrelated, like a personal problem, it’s not hard to read that as bitterness about the show and her fellow judges, since she was framing it as rare validation of her opinion.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.