This is not to say Evan isn't extremely talented. Of course he is. He wouldn't have gotten this far if he wasn't. But at this late stage in the game, I thought it was becoming obvious that--despite his tremendous growth throughout the season--Evan still wasn't quite up to par with the remaining two males in the top six, Brandon and Ade. At least I thought it was becoming obvious. But apparently much of America--the viewers who vote for "America's FAVORITE dancer," as opposed to America's BEST dancer--did not see this. And so Ade and his magical hair-pick will not be in the finale next week, as he was voted off tonight, along with his original dancer partner, Melissa.I'm sure there are other SYTYCD fans out there who are also perplexed by Evan's winning streak this season (at this point, he's the only finalist who's never once been in the bottom three). But I'm a little less perplexed when I think about how all these shows--not just SYTYCD, but also American Idol, America's Got Talent, and such--work. At the heart of such competitive talent shows is the concept that anyone can triumph over adversity and reach any goal, no matter how lofty, just with perseverance, a good attitude, and a whole lot of hard work. Whether it's Kris Allen going from "dark horse" to American Idol champ, Danny Gokey becoming an Idol darling less than a year after his young wife's tragic death, or dowdy outcast Susan Boyle becoming an overnight superstar adored by millions, the underdog story arc always resonates with viewers and voters.
And Evan's story on SYTYCD certainly follows such an arc. He auditioned before, but didn't make the top 20. He auditioned this season with his brother, Ryan, and then sadly had to be separated from him when Ryan didn't make it past Vegas Week. He's had to overcome certain dancing disadvantages--his short stature, his lack of versatility compared to some other contestants, his specialty style being somewhat old-fashioned and supposedly unpopular, his (according to Nigel) "droopy eyelids." And through it all he's shown a great deal of progress and for the most part handled whatever's been thrown at him, even hip-hop, with workmanlike skill and a smile, often surpassing the judges' low expectations. This makes him extremely likable, and on shows like this, likability is sometimes more important than danceability.But that being said, I do hope at next week's finale it's Brandon's underdog story arc--from being chewed out by nasty judge Mia Michaels all throughout Vegas Week to ultimately winning Mia over once he made the top 10--that will sway viewers when they pick up the phone and vote. I can accept Evan making it to the finale, and I think no matter what he's got a great future ahead of him--but I don't want him to win over Brandon (or Kayla or Jeanine).
But it was not all sad news tonight. On a happy note, several dancers returned from last season to revisit their recently Emmy-nominated routines, and this sort of made up for the lack of classic routines (and the puzzling inclusion of Katie Holmes) on last week's 100th episode. Two of my all-time favorite SYTYCD numbers--Katee and Twitch's "door dance" and Chelsea and Mark's "traveling businessman" routine--were reprised tonight, and I was so happy about this that it almost compensated for Ade's elimination.
And on that note, I'll leave you with this cute interview I shot with Ade and Melissa the night they danced that routine, on the 99th episode last week. At the end of the interview, I told them I was certain they'd make it to the 101st episode, and I was right about that. Too bad Ade didn't make it to the 102nd...