In the midst of all the important stuff going on in the world, something REALLY important happened last night on Dancing With the Stars — Maksim Chmerkovsky tried to rescue his damsel in distress from the evil judge Len Goodman and in doing so became overly aggressive and downright disrespectful. The best moment in the kerfuffle happened when Len blustered “I’ve been doing this for 50 years” and Maks broke in “Maybe it’s time for you to go, then”. Whoopee, crazy fun TV for DWTS addicts, of which I am kinda sorta one. So now DWTS brass is faced with a serious problem — Len is the head judge and he presumably outranks Maks, who is “just a dancer”, albeit a very good one and probably the one with the biggest fan following. What are you gonna do if you’re in charge of that show now? Maks has disrespected Len in a way that you probably can’t tolerate, but Len pretty much deserved it.
Why did Len deserve it? Several reasons. First of all, Len has been riding Hope Solo all season much like that old high school football coach from the 1960’s who gives twice as much criticism to his best, or at lest potentially best, player in the hopes that he will wake up a sleeping all-star inside the underachiever. Before the season began, everyone thought that Hope, the gorgeous-in-soccer-duds goalkeeper for the US Women’s Soccer team, looked like a shoe-in to make it to the finals of DWTS. With looks like that, athleticism, and a fan base — what could go wrong? Well, what went wrong is that Hope has the same problem translating her athleticism to dancing that, for example, boxer Floyd Mayweather had. Her body just doesn’t want to flow like a dancer’s must, and makeup and dress-up causes her to look, well, let’s just say she looks a lot, lot better in her soccer outfit.
Len, like most of America who follows such trivialities, has been disappointed. The rest of us have seen Hope lose confidence, become deeply frustrated, and get so emotionally upset by the whole thing that she was clearly hoping she would be the one who got booted last week. Len seems to be immune to understanding any of this, and so last night, at a moment where he needed to lighten up on Hope (something that 60’s high school basketball coach would have done instinctively), Len instead doubled down and caller her dance the “worst dance of the season” which is a patent absurdity given the stinkers that have shown up from time to time among a cast that includes more than a few who are incapable of dancing.
Maks, who has been dealing with Hope day in and day out and knew where she was psychologically, really did instinctively go urber-protective and for good reason. Hope was near the breaking point, and Len was wrong to not recognize this and temper his comments. Maks, by doing what he did, has changed the conversation and protected her.
So, DTWSers, what next? Boot Maks from the show? Len could indeed be clamoring for that now, saying he can’t be disrespected like that, and he has a point. On the other hand, Len probably realizes he went too far.
What is needed is an orchestrated “Kiss and Make Up” moment to air in a package next week before Maks and Hope take the dance floor. Yup — that’s it. A behind-the-scenes session, all rife with drama, in which Len visits Hope and Maks — or vice versa — and the parties have their say with one another. Len can easily defuse this by saying that he knows he’s been riding Hope hard, and it’s not malicious — he just believes deeply that she has the capability to be much better than she’s been, and his frustrations in this regard got the better of him. Maks will have a hard time coming up with a corollary response — but hey, this is reality TV with writers, right? With a little prompting, Maks could probably be guided to say that he did not mean to be disrespectful, but knowing how hard Hope had worked, and how frustrated she was, he just boiled over at the comments from Len. Then they all do a group hug and everything is good again.
Will this happen?
Or will Maks get fired?
Stay tuned and find out. Reality TV is grand, ain’t it?