Dancing with the Stars: still the same weird show

Dancing with the Stars returned last night, and its reality star-heavy cast delivered what we expect from this weird show: odd moments featuring quasi-famous people interspersed with dances set to absolutely mangled pop music. Where else can you see Florence Henderson, aka Carol Brady, mocking The Situation by showing her, um, abs; watch an unrecognizable Jennifer Grey break down over the memory of her Dirty Dancing co-star Patrick Swayze; or hear Bristol Palin referred to as a “teen activist?” (The latter may be explained, as Maria Elena Fernandez observed, because “she is an active teen.”)

Jennifer Grey and Brandy are both headed to the finals, and Bristol Palin, The Situation, and the Hoff are treading water until their fans stop voting and send one of them home, potentially tonight. However, I fear that Margaret Cho may go first. She and Louis van Amstel tried to use her humor in the routine, but she’s funniest when she’s outrageous, not goofy, and the judges were too dense to see that her screw-ups were intentional and an attempt at comedy, and a creative one at that, because it both masks smaller screw-ups and shows that she’s having fun.

While Bristol referenced her mother in her costume and the song, Sarah Palin didn’t show up despite the tabloid reports that insisted security was being strengthened and she’d be there, front and center. I guess truth has never stopped tabloids before.

The Situation complained that he only had five days to train, and the judges basically gave him a pass because of it, because he had to finish filming Jersey Shore‘s third season. Well, he showed up with the rest of the cast in L.A. back in August to talk to TV critics, and that was in the middle of filming, just as the VMAs were, but there was Mike. I think he just had to reach for whatever he could, considering that showing his rather grotesque abs and hooking up with people is not going to get him anywhere on this show.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.