SYTYCD Season 8 Top 16

So You Think You Can Dance – Now with 100% more social commentary!

Erica: Since you couldn’t watch this week Kate, I thought I’d do something a little different. I don’t know if it’s me or the show this week, but it was tripping off all kinds of my feminist/progressive/over-analytical buttons, so I thought I’d write about that stuff instead.

First of all, this season, they’ve been saying that the girls are just amazing, amazing powerhouse dancers who rock their worlds, and the guys . . . are really good. Ish. But they have to work hard to keep up with the girls, dontcha know. I’ve been finding this pretty annoying, myself. And I’d be especially pissed if I were a guy who didn’t make the cut. “Really? I’m not even good enough to play with these apparent losers?” I’d also like to say, if you’re going to say sh!t like that, stop voting off one guy and one girl. Because that means you’re letting girls go who are better than the guys you’re keeping, and that’s no fair. We’re supposed to be voting for America’s favorite dancer, not America’s favorite couple, no? And we all know same-sex ballroom can be done, even if it freaks Nigel out. But it wouldn’t even have to be! Just don’t give the girl-girl pairs ballroom that week! (Oh, I know, the dancing styles are randomly drawn from a hat. As if.)

But anyway, this meme has led this week’s show to feature a lot of “girls dominate!” dances, or at least a lot of chatter about “girls dominate!” dances. The first group routine featured four of the girls attacking four of the boys with chairs. The second group routine featured the other four girls poisoning the other four boys’ wine glasses. (It was actually a hella cool routine by a contemporary choreographer who also did Sasha and Alexander’s routine this week. He’s very intense and melodramatic but the dancing is pretty awesome.) And one of the dance routines featured Melanie (love!) supporting and pushing up and generally helping out Marko (love!) while he got over his fiancee who just left him at the altar, and then dun! dun! dun! He realizes he really loves her! (And it’s a credit to the dancers that they took this totally cheesy “lyrical” “hip-hop” piece and performed the hell out of it. I love them both. They are my favorite couple.) Which Cat tried to sell as “Girls rule!” And listen, I like a romantic storyline in which one party or the other suddenly looks at their best friend and goes, “You!” as much as the next person, but this was not a “girls rule!” moment. This was a “girl actually, literally supports a man until he finally can be arsed to notice her” moment. Not the same thing.

Kate: I hate when you say hella. But I loved that goblet group dance—shoutout to The Civil Wars!—in which Melanie was PHENOMENAL. She truly stands out. (That’s the only routine I caught this week thanks to a very special somebody.)

Erica: And my problem with all this is that the show presents this all as so sexy and cool and, like, progressive of them, to be celebrating talented girls who can kick the asses of talented guys! I, a feminist, am supposed to be pleased by this development! I am not pleased. Because this is exactly what these MRA types and others think feminism is, and it’s why people hate it. Because they think feminism is about girls taking power away from boys, girls beating up on boys, girls “dominating” at the expense of boys. It’s not. Many people have been more articulate than me about why it’s not and I can be more articulate than this about why it’s not another time, but it’s just not. And look, if there were a dance about boys poisoning girls collectively, it would be dark and serious and tragic. But the dance about girls poisoning boys was cute. And you’d never have boys miming the level of violence towards girls that the girls mimed during the first group routine with the boys, it would be too scary. So what I’m saying—and what most feminists are saying, actually—is that violence by women against men is just as uncool (if less prevalent) than violence by men against women. And what this show seems to be saying is, “Boys perpetrating violence against girls is evil and scary and dark. Girls perpetrating violence against boys is beautiful and/or sexy and fun. And, thinking that way is a progressive, hip, cool way to think.” And I hate that.

Kate: Clearly. What does MRA mean?

Erica: But then the show has this other meme, which it always has, which it always has had, in which, in the interviews/rehearsal footage, these girls, who are 18-25, with gorgeous dancer bodies and beautiful TV-ready faces, who have been studying how to use their bodies for years and also hit puberty some time ago, have to pretend that they do not believe they are sexy, do not believe they can project sexiness, do not have or like sex, and still sleep with a stuffed bunny in their bed. This would be annoying enough. But then the show also demands that they get on stage and dance sexily. They’ll get dinged if they can’t be adequately sexy on stage. And they’ll get dinged if they don’t act like innocent virgins off stage. Which is, like, a literal representation of regular life for women, but this is what’s called “normalizing” that.

Kate: Well I think they need to get rid of those pre-performance interviews altogether. This is NOT the type of show for which I need to connect with/relate to the competitors in any way, shape or form. I don’t care about 8 seconds of information on you and fun facts I never knew, I care about how ya’ll MOVE.

Erica: Then Nigel forcibly kissed Mary Murphy. She actually seemed genuinely frightened and then genuinely pissed during the kiss. But then she had to laugh it off, of course. Because being actually pissed would have made her look like a bitch. And no one likes a bitch! Sexual assault is funsies! Swear! Then the judges had to keep this going. Guest judge Kristin Chenoweth (who I love, but come on, girl. You’re the queen of character work through song and dance; no one on that stage is better than you. Not even Melanie and Marko who are awesome.) kissed Lil’ C. Then Nigel kissed Lil’ C. Because he’s totally not homophobic, you guys! And as funny as a man sexually assaulting a woman is, it’s even funnier when a man sexually assaults another man! Homosexuality is hi-LAR-ious.

Kate: Hahah, funsies. Well wouldn’t you be genuinely frightened and genuinely pissed if Nigel Lythgoe tried to touch his lips to yours? The man’s hilarious but EW, and I think he IS gay. It’s so creepy when he says semi-vulgar things about the girl dancers because you just know he’s thinking about the other half of the dancing duo. Also, there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how badly I cannot STAND Lil’ C, who always has such a profound philosophical understanding of the performance that no one else could possibly have and no one else actually wants to hear. And I always thought Kristin was a better actress/singer than dancer. No?

Erica: And then they had a dance routine about two people waking up in the same bed who don’t remember how they got there. Because date rape is also hilarious! Okay, it’s not date rape if you can’t tell who’s the victim and who’s the perpetrator (right?). But still. This was supposed to be so adorable, how they were horrified by each other’s presence at first and then wanted to, like, totally do it again. That’s not . . . well, maybe I’m a big old prude. And Jordan and Tadd certainly danced it well and it was super fun. Although then Lil C had to be all, “NappyTabs, your concepts are just so inventive!” (NappyTabs was also responsible for the left-at-the-altar-best-friend-love one) and I’m going, “Inventive? These are plots of movies starring Ashton Kutcher and/or Katherine Heigl.”

Kate: I need to find these dances/this episode online, the date rape one sounds great!

Erica: But it’s part of a narrative on this show that’s at once disturbing and totally normal, and it’s about who women are sexually and who they have to perform being sexually and how f*cked up that all is. Except the show doesn’t acknowledge that it’s fucked up. They think it’s cute and fun.

Kate: All right, give me more critique of the actual dancing rather than the show’s morals.

Erica: Dancing? Yes, I believe there was dancing. The first group number by Tyce D’Orio was good. Though I didn’t understand the three glow-in-the-dark circles under each chair. They looked like those Ti-D-Bowl things.

Kate: What are Ti-D-Bowls? Must be a Midwest Mom thing.

Sasha and Alexander

Erica: Fun fact—in Russia, “Sasha” is a common nickname for “Alexander.” So now you know. They did a beautiful contemporary piece by that new guy. Alexander seemed almost as good as Sasha this time. I hate the camerawork on this show sometimes, though. We don’t need so much swooping. We should probably stay more or less where they audience is to get the full effect of the dance.

Kate: Totes agree! Sometimes I actually scream “STOP SPINNING!” at the screen. (The cameras, not the dancers; dancers spin away!)

Caitlyn and Mitchell

Erica: They totally rocked the Jean-Marc Genereux (love!) samba, especially Mitchell and his crazy, crazy hips.

Miranda and Robert

Erica: They did a Tyce D’Orio routine. They continue to be meh for me. This was better than their jive but I felt a lack of connection to each other even when they were actually, you know, touching.

Kate: I feel that’s a constant issue with them, hence my perplexion as to why they haven’t been in the bottom 3 couples yet. Perhaps this week?

Melanie and Marko

Erica: As I mentioned earlier, these 2 did a NappyTabs routine. They continue to be the bomb with frosting and I love them. In addition to being wonderful dancers with great movement, they can perform the hell out of anything.

Kate: Er. “The bomb with frosting”? WHAT is that?

Ashley and Chris

Erica: They did a Sonya Tayeh piece. They disappointed this week but Nigel’s critique was pretty much spot on so I have nothing to add.

Clarice and Jess

Erica: Clarice and Jess looked great doing a Jean-Marc foxtrot.

Kate: I can foxtrot! I can foxtrot!

Ricky and Ryan

Erica: Ricky and Ryan’s Sonya Tayeh routine made me think a lot about the production of this show. Like, they get their dance style Thursday night after the results show. They perform Monday. At what point did Sonya Tyre say, “We need cloth, we need it to be this length”? How long do they have to rehearse with it? How does that all work? Which is to say, the dance was meh.

Kate: Sometimes I find myself wishing I could rip Sonya’s hair out.

Jordan and Tadd

Erica: Rocked the NappyTabs number.


Erica: And the final group number by that new(?) guy was pretty awesome even if I object on ideological grounds.

Kate: So guys who was in the bottom 3 couples and who went home!?

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