The results of this week's Dancing With the Stars audience votes are in and Sean Spicer is safe despite having received the lowest score from the judges on Monday, and judge Carrie Ann Inaba is expressing her frustration. This is the second week in a row that Spicer has received the lowest judges score but been saved by the audience vote.
The voting system for Dancing With the Stars was changed this season. In the past, the judges’ scores and viewer votes were combined and the lowest-scoring couple was eliminated. After years of fans complaints that the contest was more of a popularity contest than a dancing contest the scoring system was updated this year adding a twist where the combined judges' scores and viewer votes determined the two lowest-scoring couples and the judges were then given the power to save one of the two couples, ultimately giving them a say in which couple goes home. This appeared to be in direct response to last year's winner DJ Bobby Bones who despite consistently low judges score received many votes from fans of the DJ and ended up taking home the mirror ball. The goal, it is assumed, was to keep stronger dancers in over simply more popular celebrities.
So far this system doesn't seem to have been able to do that. Sean Spicer has had the lowest score four weeks in a row and yet he wasn't even in the bottom two, leaving the judges with no option but to send higher-scoring dancers home. Ally Brooke had actually managed to score a rare perfect 30 this season still found herself in the bottom two this week alongside Kate Flannery who ultimately ended up being sent home. Last week Karamo Brown was sent home despite having scored 6 points above Spicer. This has lead to frustration for the judges and many viewers. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba expressed this to Us Weekly when she said, “There are really great dancers being sent home, but that is part of our show. It’s always been the audience and the judges’ perspective. So I’m not - I can’t be mad at it, but it’s frustrating.”
These results are just another in a long line of controversy surrounding Spicer's participation in the show. Host Tom Bergeron tweeted his displeasure with the casting of the former White House press secretary saying that he felt the show should maintain “a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate.” Fellow contestant Karamo Brown's Queer Eye castmate Bobby Berk also spoke out against the casting decision however it was Brown's support of Spicer that was met with backlash. Even President Donald Trump has asked people to come together and put aside differences to vote for him and support him on the show.
Whether you are a fan of the casting choice or not several seasons have shown us that the public will always vote for who they like regardless of the judges' scores or quality of dancing. It will be interesting to see if next season ABC sticks with this new format or adds future changes or possibly even reverts to last season's voting system. For now, though it appears that while it was not intended as such, the truth remains that, at least for now, Dancing With the Stars is a popularity contest first and a dance contest second.
Dancing With The Stars airs Mondays at 8 pm EST on ABC.