“Dancing With The Stars” Season 28, the season filled with twists, turns, triumphs and totally shocking eliminations, has finally come to a close. While many were completely surprised and disappointed by the announcement of “Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown and her partner Alan Bersten as the mirror ball winners, it was not the first shocking moment of the season and should not overshadow all of the fantastic moments that took place during the season and finale. Let’s take a look back at the season and some of the best and worst performances, the best contestants and the most heart-wrenching eliminations.
This season had garnered quite a bit of attention and controversy prior to the first episode airing, as many individuals, both previous viewers and non-viewers, were not too thrilled about the fact that former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was going to be joining the show. More controversy began to arise when fellow star from “Queer Eye” Karamo Brown called Sean Spicer “a good guy, really sweet guy,” and several members of the LGBTQ+ community bashed him for his decision to talk about Spicer in such a positive light, including his co-star Jonathan Van Ness.
On a more positive note, we are taking it all the way back to the first night of dancing. We were introduced to the hopeful and eager stars and their professional partners who were determined to take home the coveted mirror ball trophy. It was pretty evident even from night one who the strongest dancers and weaker links were out of the group. James Van Der Beek, my personal favorite of the season, came out of the gate swinging with a fluid and smooth tango that scored him a 21/30, the highest score of the night.
Another surprising star was Sailor Brinkley, who quickly stepped in for her supermodel mom after she injured herself while practicing. Brinkley performed a foxtrot, which she learned in only three days time to “Uptown Girl,” as an homage to her mother’s cameo in the music video. Brinkley wowed the judges and audience and ended the night with an 18/30, one of the higher scores of the night.
While others performed swimmingly on the premiere, other dancers completely flopped no matter how hard they tried. Lamar Odom — yes, former Lakers player and ex-husband of Khloe Kardashian — put lots of effort into his performance, but at the end of the day, the difference in height between he (6’10”) and his partner, Peta Murgatroyd (5’7”), made it difficult for the choreography to be executed correctly despite the long hours of practice and re-working that they went through. The couple danced a foxtrot to “Feeling Good” and received the lowest score of the evening, an 11/20.
Another couple whose performance was cringe-inducing, to say the least, was Sean Spicer and his partner, Lindsay Arnold. The dancing duo performed to, you guessed it, “Spice Up Your Life,” with Spicer donning an obscenely bright ruffled top and some drums. The pair scored a 12/30, the second lowest score of the night.
As the season continued on, fans of the show were blessed with some absolutely fantastic performances by stars who had always had a strong lead in the competition, as well as surprised by stars who did not have the best start, but who put the work in and rose to the occasion.
Hannah Brown stole the show the second week with a beautiful and heartfelt Viennese waltz to Taylor Swift’s “Lover,” earning her and her partner Alan a 24/30, the highest score of the night. Lauren Alania dazzled week four with a fantastic foxtrot to “Jolene,” earning her and her partner Gleb a 24/30. Kate Flannery of “The Office” delivered a saccharine sweet and cheery performance during Disney week that earned her and Pasha all 8s from the judges.
Kel Mitchell was living his best life on Halloween night while he and his partner Whitney danced to “The Time Warp” from cult classic film “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” receiving a 27/30, one of the higher scores from Halloween night. Ally Brooke and Sasha performed a toe-tapping jazz routine to “Sing, Sing, Sing,” which was incredibly fun to watch and landed them a score of all 10s.
While there were plenty of joyous moments on the show, there were as much if not more times of sadness, confusion and shock as couples, week after week with what seemed like great chances at winning the mirror ball, were finding themselves landing a spot in the bottom two, or worse, being sent home.
The first elimination that no one saw coming was in week six, when Sailor Brinkley and Ally Brooke, who were both doing well in the competition thus far — and scored highly that week, as well — landed in the bottom two, resulting in Sailor Brinkley being sent home. Fans were overwhelmed with sadness and questioning when “Dawson’s Creek” star James Van Der Beek was voted off in week 10. Van Der Beek had always ranked highly on the leaderboard, but had a difficult time during the week he was eliminated as he and his family had just suffered the loss of their unborn child.
In addition to the mystery of how some of the best dancers were being sent home so early was the enigma of how Sean Spicer never ended up in the bottom two, even though he repeatedly scored among the lowest of all the dancers every episode. Regardless of political opinions, it was quite clear that Spicer was not up to snuff with the higher scoring stars and was remaining in the competition solely based on viewers voting for him to stay.
All in all, this season definitely had its moments: the good, the bad and the downright ugly (I’m looking at you, Sean Spicer’s neon green top). While viewers were disappointed and astonished by the eliminations of the season, perhaps it will inspire them to become more active in voting on the show. Only time will tell.