“Dancing with the Stars” controversy heightens after Charli D’Amelio’s contentious win


“Dancing with the Stars” has been a prominent show on TV for 17 years. However, the most recent seasons have made the loyal audience feel the competition is becoming unfair. Photo Adaptation from People Magazine

The newest season of the long-running TV show “Dancing with the Stars” sparked controversy amongst the show’s audience. Many felt the addition of  TikTok “influencer” Charli D’Amelio to the star-studded cast compromised the show’s integrity and took away from its initial purpose: teaching inexperienced celebrities the art of dance, and tracking their growth and progress. 

D’Amelio is a trained dancer and, of course, came into the show with almost flawless routines— a stark contrast from her competitors, who struggled due to their lack of dance knowledge and confidence. Though D’Amelio is an exceptional dancer and clearly put a lot of hard work into the season, it seemed her win was a reflection of the show’s sudden departure from an even playing field, and fans are not pleased. 

Since its premiere in 2005, “Dancing with the Stars” – otherwise known as DWTS – has featured big celebrity names like Kim Kardashian, Kate Flannery, Wendy Williams, Zendaya, Lance Bass, Lisa Vanderpump, Bill Nye–the list goes on. The show was immediately a hit due to the exciting nature of watching celebrities you know and love thrown into an unfamiliar environment and witnessing their journey from start to finish. It’s a very humanizing situation, showing the audience that even the most prominent celebrities aren’t perfect at everything. However, the most recent season involving experienced dancer D’Amelio brought a long underlying scandal to a head. 

D’Amelio hit the stage every week never earning a score less than a 32 out of 40. Despite the fact that the average score for each participant is a 25 out of 40, especially in the first few episodes. This demonstrates how much of an advantage D’Amelio had over her competitors. On the leaderboards at the end of each week’s performances, she never dipped below first place. 

From the minute the season began people had issues with her competing, mainly because the competition results primarily rely on audience votes. D’Amelio has an extremely large fan base on social media platforms, including a total of over 140 million followers on TikTok. DWTS fans called attention to this from the get-go, arguing that the other celebrities couldn’t even hold a candle to the number of audience votes she was going to pull in. This turned out to be true, as D’Amelio and her partner Mark Ballas never once found themselves in the bottom two.

From the minute the season began people had issues with her competing, mainly because the competition results primarily rely on audience votes.

In addition to her immense popularity, her extensive dance experience also angered loyal DWTS fans. They claimed it was unfair to put her up against beginners who were genuinely trying to learn. Some even went as far as to say D’Amelio could easily be one of the pros on the show. In various tweets, fans asserted that she was set up to win, and this damaged the suspense that competition shows ride on.

On Nov. 21, the long-anticipated finale aired on Disney+. Fans were eager to see if any of the underdogs would end up victorious, or if their concerns about D’Amelio taking home the coveted mirrorball trophy would come true. Though other competitors Wayne Brady, Shangela and Gabby Windey put up a strong fight, D’Amelio’s tremendous dancing talent shined through and won her the entire season. 

Though many were happy for D’Amelio, it was hard to ignore the herd of outraged audience members who called the show ‘rigged’ and ‘predictable.’ Some even announced that they would no longer continue to watch the series to avoid supporting what the once honorable show had become.

But, was the show ever truly honorable? Despite what many seem to believe, D’Amelio was hardly the first trained dancer to appear in the competition. Jojo Siwa, Jordan Fisher, Heather Morris and Nicole Scherzinger are just some of the featured cast members who have had prior dance experience. Some even accumulated fame due to their dancing careers. So this brings me to the question, why did people have such a problem with it when it came to D’Amelio?

Since the beginning of D’Amelio’s social media career, she has been subjected to quite a lot of hate. Many came after her for the fact that she was collecting a considerable amount of money for doing TikTok dances. Truthfully, I didn’t think the best of her either. I saw a girl around my age who was being recognized so incredibly for something that I and all of my friends could also do. However, seeing her compete on DWTS made me gain a new respect for her. 

Though many called her untalented, she clearly has an amazing talent for dance. I even started to feel bad for her, hearing about her struggles of navigating being a teenager so publicly and the overbearing amount of hate she’d get for mistakes we all make. Nevertheless, since she was already such a controversial public figure, it was easy for many to be closed-minded and immediately hop on the “let’s hate on Charli D’Amelio” bandwagon. 

Social media has undoubtedly brought a lot of judgment into our day-to-day communications. It’s so easy for people to hide behind screens and get their anger out. “Dancing with the Stars” newest season was a great example of social media allowing hatred to spread. Though it may not have been the best choice to bring D’Amelio onto the show, I believe the hate she received was uncalled for. In the end, it was fun to watch her dance throughout the season and earn those well-deserved tens across the board.