This is the part of the year during which, if I want to see my wife, I watch the Fox dancing competition "reality" program, So You Think You Can Dance?
Of the possible reality game shows she could have selected to watch, it's one of the more innocuous things I could deal with. It's not dubious, karaoke-style singing a la American Idol. And it's not about a panel of judges that I know nothing about, a la The Voice. It doesn't make me hate humanity (see: any reality programming gameshow on MTV). And it's not as relentlessly depressing as most dating or "unscripted" things that, for real, I cannot get my head around at all.
But I also know next to nothing about the art of dance. If it didn't feature Madonna expressing herself circa 1989 or the ladies of En Vogue instructing me to "free my mind", I am not sure how much attention I paid to anyone dancing anywhere during my formative years.
I believe we are now in season 478 of So You Think You Can Dance? and I feel no closer to understanding dance any better. I listen to the critiques, shrug, and have little to no opinion.
I am also aware of the multitude of factors at play. Of course the dancers must not just be good dancers, they must be telegenic and must fit within certain televisable demographics. This rule does not include the audition rounds where anything outside of those demographics is treated with contempt and, often, humiliation (I would say the show has always been better about not picking on the socially awkward or those with disabilities in a way that American Idol chose to do, as if the program were run by middle schoolers).
And, of course, even when the show puts forth a varied cast in the early episodes from their own elimination rounds, on more than one season, the show has said good-bye to anyone not looking like they belong in a McDonald's commercial within a few episodes.
I dunno. This is one of the few gameshows I watch these days (and, it is a gameshow, let's not kid ourselves), so I don't have a great feel for what else is out there. It's certainly not as manipulated and scripted as, say, The Bachelor (which I have only seen under duress), or any of the ridiculous dating shows on Fox from the mid-00's. But there's still managed through-lines for each dancer as the judges push and pull on the phone votes. And, let's be honest, we have no way of knowing if any of the call-in-stuff is any way legitimate.
All of this is 10-year-old navel gazing, I am sure. But I am also about to immerse myself in another few months of this business, so pardon me while I brace myself.