A few days ago, ABC released the star lineup for Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars and it was really disappointing. The network's interpretation of “star” has gotten more and more offbeat and uninteresting, with lower than D-list celebrities who aren’t even household names of the past, let alone the present.
But really, who are these people and why can’t shows like this get better talent?
The biggest name for the upcoming season, which premieres March 21, is Kirstie Alley. Others I haven’t heard of (Chelsea Kane from The Disney Channel and Chris Jericho, a former pro wrestler, to name two) just don't sound that interesting to watch. Then there are some I have heard of but don’t care about (Sugar Ray Leonard, Petra Nemcova, Kendra Wilkinson).
Dancing with the Stars used to be filled with well-known celebrities and athletes like Emmitt Smith, Jerry Springer and Kristi Yamaguchi. Each cast had stereotypes who proved to be surprising: An older person like Cloris Leachman (who was very entertaining), former athletes, country music stars, more washed up celebs (remember Fabio?), and beautiful actresses/models with limbs too long or outsized body parts that threw the center of gravity off too much to dance well (Shannon Elizabeth and Pam Anderson). And occasionally, there was a much-better-than-expected dancer, like Kelly Osbourne, who made the show fun to watch.
We understand the show can't get current A-list celebrities because of the time commitment, but at least give us some people we’ve heard of and liked (or hated) at one time. For a three hours each week (two on Mondays and one for the results show on Tuesdays), give us somebody to root for.
The real winners of Dancing with the Stars have been the permanent cast. Julianne Hough, who started as a professional dancer on the show, has embarked on a singing, dancing and acting career. Brooke Burke went from winner of Season 7 to co-hosting in Season 10. And Samantha Harris, the co-host of Seasons 2-10, went on to co-host Entertainment Tonight.
The genre isn't going anywhere because reality TV featuring celebrities is fun to watch. But do the shows really want us asking, Who's that? and Who cares? Just give us some people we’ve heard of.
Remember I’m a celebrity…get me out of here!? We'll be flipping the channel in no time.