It was another “shocking” elimination on this week’s “Dancing With the Stars,” as the latest results announcement proved once again that it doesn’t matter how well a contestant dances on the ABC reality competition.
The victim this week was “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, who was sent home after a nearly-flawless samba that earned her 27 points from the judges. Snooki’s part in a zombie-themed team dance earned her another 27 points, placing her firmly near the top of the judges’ leaderboard.
So when her name was announced as this week’s voted-off contestant, the pint-sized reality star had a hard time hiding her shock. And so did the entire ballroom.
“I can’t even talk right now,” the tearful MTV star said. “I love everybody here, so it sucks.” Still dressed in her gory gear from the team dance number, Snooki asked, “Why am I leaving a zombie?”
“Zombies come back,” host Tom Bergeron quipped.
Unfortunately, not on this show.
This season’s phone line technical difficulties and carryover voting system has resulted in several elimination shockers. Snooki’s elimination comes two weeks after another “DWTS” front runner — pop singer Christina Milian — was prematurely sent home from the show. In fact, Milian’s ousting came on the week that she had the highest score on the judges’ leaderboard. Indeed, the viewer votes from the week before had already sealed her fate, so it didn’t matter how well she danced.
“DWTS” has long been deemed more of a popularity contest than a dancing contest. Last year, Martina Navratilova told Access Hollywood Live she knew going into the competition that she and partner Tony Dovolani were underdogs: “We’re 20-1 underdogs, but you can’t compete against them, because you can’t beat them. In tennis, you can hit the ball and you can win, but this is a popularity contest — No. 1 and No. 2, you cannot effect on how well they dance. We can only do the best that we can,” she said. The tennis pro wound up being the first celeb eliminated that season.
And in 2011, Season 13 contestant Chynna Phillips — who was also eliminated from the show early despite much higher judges’ scores than many of her competitors — told The Huffington Post: “It really does come down to the votes. And that’s kind of sad because it’s supposed to be a dance competition, but it’s actually a popularity contest, which makes me kind of sad. You know, you have to have a little bit of faith that there are people out there who are truly voting for their favorite dance, not their favorite person, because it is a dance competition and people are working really hard. It would be very sad if that was undermined, and it looks to me like that keeps getting undermined.”
While worthy contenders and front runners are being sent packing early once again this season, leaderboard bottom dweller Bill Engvall, who admittedly looked stunned when his name wasn’t called to be sent home, lives on to dance another week. He’s this season’s Bristol Palin, after surviving a campy Elvis-style “Viva Las Vegas” quickstep that scored a mere 23 points. And he seems to know it.
After the surprising elimination results were announced, the comedian tweeted: “Thanks to all the fans wouldn’t be here without you. @DancingABC.”
“Dancing With the Stars” airs on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.
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