If there's anything reality TV has taught us about our own collective dark side, it's that we love to see famous folk doing things they're not supposed to be doing--and, hopefully, doing those things badly. Whether it's singing (Celebrity Duets, But Can They Sing?), iceskating (Skating With Celebrities), rapping (Celebrity Rap Superstars), dieting (Celebrity Fit Club), dating (Rock Of Love, Flavor Of Love), co-habitating (Celebrity Big Brother, The Surreal Life), auto-racing (Fast Cars & Superstars), or even cattle-roping (Ty Murray's Bull Riding Challenge), we simply love to see supposedly talented celebrities revealed to be normal no-talents like the rest of us. I for one am already gearing up for CMT's new country-singing competition, Gone Country--starring Bobby Brown, Dee Snider, and Sisqo--and that doesn't ever air until January!
But the granddaddy of all celebrities-looking-stupid shows is, of course, Dancing With The Stars. The only thing is, some of these allegedly left-footed celebs don't look too stupid at all. It turns out some of them actually can cut a mean rug, thus making us regular little people feel inferior all over again. Gee thanks, ABC! I liked it better when I could dwell on the comforting, ego-boosting fact that Todd Bridges is a worse skater than my 4-year-old niece.
Anyhoo, the Dancing With The Stars finale is this week, wrapping up a season fraught with drama and distress, like the death of Jane Seymour's mom and the elimination of supposed frontrunner Sabrina Bryan (which was perhaps the most unexpected and baffling vote-off since Chris Daughtry left American Idol). And then, of course, there was a whole bunch o' trouble for Marie Osmond (more on her in a minute).
So the three hard-fought finalists are Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown, some Brazililan auto-racing "star" named Helio that I'd never heard of until this show (he wasn't on Fast Cars & Superstars, you see), and Marie Osmond. All are fine dancers who've surprisingly held their own, but sorry, let's face facts: those other two can dance circles around Marie. Sure, she's good, especially when you consider her age, but she's probably stayed on as long as she has because of the sympathy-vote factor. This season, Marie's 20-year marriage crumbled, her dad died, she suffered a bizarre onstage fainting spell (which may or may not have been linked to a Red Bull binge), and her son checked into rehab. So when viewers see her up on that stage, all smiles though her heart is breaking, giving it her all with that "show must go" attitude of hers...well, the public just wants her to prevail after all she's been through. So that might explain her tenacity. Or maybe she's remained on the show because the entire state of Utah and all thrice-removed relatives of the extended Osmond clan are voting for her. Or maybe the theory propagated by The Soup's Joel McHale (that the Marie Osmond QVC dolls have come to life and learned how to vote) is actually true!
But really, Mel B is the one to beat. Of course, Mel's had a somewhat unfair advantage all season, since her "real" career with the Spice Girls requires her to dance and pick up choreography. This same argument has been lobbied against Sabrina Bryan of the Cheetah Girls and season 4 finalist Joey Fatone of *NSYNC, and come to think of it, could be made against Marie Osmond, since she and her brother/duet partner Donny also used to hoof it back in the day. But all nitpicking aside, Mel truly knows how to move it, and has scored a perfect 30 more than once. Girl power!
As for Helio Castroneves, he certainly warrants special recognition for coming from a professional field which involves sitting down most of the time--who knew he'd be able to do more with his two feet than floor a gas pedal? He's definitely risen to the challenge here, and he deserves his spot in the finals.
So who will win? Well, any reality show is ultimately a popularity contest--that's why likable goofballs like Taylor Hicks win over snooty primadonnas like Katharine McPhee. And there's no denying Marie Osmond is one popular lady. She's America's sweetheart, after all. But if the judges dole out a couple more perfect 30s and the public takes note, then Britain's sweetheart, Melanie Brown, will surely zig-a-zig-ah her way to the top spot. We'll just have to wait and see what the voters want, what they really really want.