Everyone has an opinion on this, viewers and non-viewers alike. It's almost inarguable that Brandy was lightyears ahead of Bristol in dance ability, but because Bristol Palin is Sarah Palin's daughter, it seems America can't enjoy this season of celebrity ballroom dance without politics getting in the way.
I, for one, think it's annoying. Politics should have nothing to do with it. Doesn't anyone else see how absurd it is to drag our nation's governing system into Dancing with the Stars? These contestants, however likeable, are essentially competing for a disco ball on a stick!
I'm a fan of the show; I really am. It's much more than just washed-up has-beens learning ballroom steps. It's really a chance for the participants to show the viewers their true colors, for better or worse, and to put themselves back on the public radar. In the best cases, it can be career rehabilitation. There have been countless celebrities that waltzed across DWTS' hardwood and changed my previously held opinions - Pamela Anderson, Lil' Kim, and Evan Lysacek to name a few.
More than that, the whole experience is such a challenge for these people that the show becomes something like televised therapy. It seems like the cast members all bond strongly with their dance partners and their competitors just through the sheer force of shared experience. Yes, the show is silly and fun, but it's rewarding to watch, as a viewer. It's not the most-watched show in America for nothing.
Or is it? Is the viewership this year due to Bristol Palin? Last season, DWTS performed better than American Idol for the first time ever, thanks to Kate Gosselin's polarizing participation in the show. I can't help but think Bristol's involvement is producing similar results.
But, at the end of the day, Kate Gosselin was a terrible dancer and America had the good sense to put the poor woman out of her misery about halfway through the competition. Bristol's story goes far beyond the incidental boost in ratings. No, she's getting an inexplicable surge in votes that has propelled her past far more deserving candidates, right into the Final 3.
The elephant in the room (no pun intended) seems to be some sort of conservative conspiracy. There's even reports that Bristol's (and, by proxy, Sarah's) fans are working the system somehow. Mama Palin has appeared in several of Bristol's pre-taped rehearsal packages, and even attended the live shows on several occasions. The support for Bristol is there, and her associations don't go unmentioned.
It should be noted that Bristol's dance ability is improving. The show repeatedly reminds us that she is not a performer of any kind, let alone a dancer, and so her accomplishments are truly remarkable. I'm not arguing! She has improved by leaps and bounds - but the fact of the matter is that she's still not Final 3 material. But there seems to be this semi-delusional cluster of fans who stubbornly insist on putting her there. And I can't for the life of me figure out why. Not winning a reality show ballroom dance competition is not shameful, guys! At some point you have to acknowledge the fact that there are better dancers out there and just be proud of what you've done. Everyone else on the show has had to! Or even worse, the celebrities that have been eliminated at Bristol's expense have to accept the fact that there are lesser dancers still in the competition. That's gotta suck, knowing that you don't have enough fans to overtake a worse dancer's scores.
Yes, this is America, and voting (whether it be for a presidency or a Mirrorball Trophy) is what makes this country great. But people need to stop being jerks and vote responsibly, even if it is for a silly reality TV show. And most importantly, we should be able to treat Bristol Palin's involvement on Dancing with the Stars without the context of her situation, and leave politics off the dance floor.