Reality Rocks - Archive

Mad World, Indeed: The Amazing Billy Bell Is Cut From ‘SYTYCD’

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

A few good things happened on this week's "So You Think You Can Dance" results show. For instance, the eternally awesome Allison Iraheta performed. And untrained B-boy Jose Ruiz, whose elimination was frankly long overdue, was finally sent home.

And Robert Roldan, who'd been in the bottom three multiple times before, despite being one of the best dancers in "SYTYCD" history, was completely safe. (And no one seemed more shocked by this development than Robert himself.)

That's the good news.

The bad news? This Thursday's results show featured a double-elimination, and the other castoff besides Jose was Billy Bell, even though he too was one of the best "SYTYCD" dancers of Season 7. This result was even sadder considering that Billy's "Mad World" homeless-man routine with allstar Ade was the hands-down highlight of Wednesday night's episode, and one of the highlights of the entire season. The fact that not even that number was enough to get viewers to pick up their phones and vote for Billy puzzles and troubles me.

Honestly, knowing that two dancers had to go home this week, I braced myself for this bummer elimination the moment the bottom three were announced...because along with Jose and Billy, Lauren Froderman was on the chopping block for the first time. The judges had spent much of Wednesday night fawning over Lauren, saying she was already performing at an "allstar level" and predicting she'd be in the finale alongside Kent Boyd. And since Lauren is the only female left in the competition, I knew the judges wouldn't want to cut her for that reason alone. So, yeah, I assumed Billy was a goner.

You know, I never quite understood why Billy never connected with viewers. His technical skill was beyond reproach, of course, but I did think this cute kid also had a definite likability factor (I certainly liked him), and I thought his sob story from last season, when he had to drop out for medical reasons after making the top 20, would earn him sympathy and support among viewers. I always figured Billy was a favorite and a frontrunner from the get-go, so when he continually landed in the bottom three, week after week, I was stunned.

On Thursday's results show, Nigel Lythgoe--a very vocal proponent of "masculine" dancing--hypothesized that Billy's "androgynous style" was what turned viewers off. Such a comment seemed borderline homophobic, but this wouldn't be the first time Nigel was accused of that. And I'm not so sure Nigel's theory was correct, either. I do admit Billy was better in routines like "Mad World" or this season's earlier "Bitter Earth" dance with Ade and Alex Wong, in which he didn't have to act sexy with a female partner--but I could say the same thing about the lovably dorky Kent, who always seems a bit silly when he is required to act macho or sultry and yet has been a fan favorite, and a judge favorite, from day one.

The reason Billy didn't get more votes this week, specifically, may have been because of his controversial decision to rest his injured knee last week (despite getting the greenlight to perform from medics), followed by the judges' even more controversial decision to not eliminate anyone last Thursday, including Billy. Some angry viewers thought this was unfair, and even called Billy a coward. Maybe that residual resentment (which I believe was undeserved) was the reason for Billy's lack of votes this week. But his watershed "Mad World" performance should have been more than enough to redeem himself in viewers' eyes.

Watch it again, and YOU decide if the right dancer went home this week:

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