I’m in a state of television deprivation. My favorite show–So You Think You Can Dance?–is over and I don’t know what to do with myself each Wednesday and Thursday night now. I’ve grown to miss judge Nigel Lithgoe–despite his mesmerizingly oversized dental caps–and his spot-on critiques of the dancing wunderkind contestants. And crazy judge Mary Murphy, once a staid, unassuming ballroom dance instructor and now a borderline wildwoman you could almost imagine tucking tenners into a male stripper’s g-string. I miss the towering (I swear she had two feet on some of those little dancers) and stunning hostess Cat Deeley, whose bastardization of the word judges (“Let’s see what the jidges think,” she’d say again and again each episode) sort of grew on me, like mold on bread. Poor Cat, who donned a succession of increasingly fabulous gowns throughout the show, unwisely capped the season with a brown confection that looked like it had been assembled by a team of weaver birds building a home in which to incubate their eggs.
While I may enjoy poking a little bit of fun at the “jidges”, I absolutely loved the show. Nowhere else on television (arguably not even on ESPN) could one find a more impressive display of athleticism. Week in and week out, phenomenally talented dancers vyed for primacy–and defied gravity–all for a relatively meager prize, as far as reality programs go.
SYTYCD? is about the best show on television, in my humble opinion, though I’ve yet to meet another soul who watches it. This stands in sharp contrast to that other dancing show that somehow transfixes Americans–you know the one with has-been celebrities desperate to administer CPR, stat, to their flagging careers (I know, I know, it’s called Dancing with the Stars). I understand those contestants do actually learn to dance, but it’s nothing like SYTYCD?, which is more like a weekly award-winning Broadway production for free in your living room, as opposed to watching an Arthur Murray lesson on TV.
I must admit I am just about the worst dancer ever born. Elaine’s spastic dance mockery on Seinfeld would look good next to me on a dance floor. It doesn’t help that when paired up with a partner I have this overriding need to lead. So I probably get an extra added fix by watching SYTYCD?, appreciating all the more the talent those dancers have: I get my vicarious thrill with the lithe-limbed dancing machines who populate the show. And in addition to the extraordinary skills of the participants, I am spellbound by the phenomenal talent of the choreographers, costume designers and make-up artists. It’s just so much more uplifting, the whole ensemble, than, say, yet another episode of CSI: Miami.
Perhaps the end of the show is a good thing after all. Instead of parking myself in front of the television two nights a week, I will park myself in front of my computer and write. And in light of my two left feet and the rhythm of a three-toed sloth, I feel especially fortunate that I was invited to dance at this Ball: one that values creativity on the page above that on the dance floor.