DWTS: The Gute Does the Mango & Gets the Boot

By: Gay.com
4.2.2008

Last night's Dancing with the Stars achieved a major milestone last night: it delivered an hour's worth of gay programming while no one noticed.

Well, I'm sure some of us noticed. There are those like me who revelled the outrageous campiness of it all (Kylie and more Kylie!), and there were probably a few sets turned off across the country when Steve Guttenburg did the "mango" - the tango with another male dancer. But that bit was really just the tip of the gay ice-burg.

We all take DWTS for granted now, but seriously: one of America's favorite shows is based on ballroom dancing. We seem to forget this. I remember when the show was first announced, I thought there was NO way this would succeed.  Who was going to watch B- and C-list celebs do the fox-trot and the rumba? The couple above me who take turns serenading each other with Broadway tunes each weekend? Uh, yes. My grandmother - maybe. Me - no way.

But here we are, glued to a show that has become a phenomenon and rivals American Idol in attracting major acts (Jonas Brothers, Kylie) and stretches its programming out so that it's on practically every night of the week.

I've come to realize that at the heart of its success is that fact that DWTS has pulled off what no other show has successfully done in the last 20 years: it's brought back the variety show of my childhood. While the dancing competition is the "hook", it's essentially taken the Sonny & Cher/Liberace/Donny & Marie hour and repackaged it, trading in the on-stage sketch comedy bits for manufactured behind-the-scenes drama and uber-produced shenanigans (like last night's, "what do the stars do to relax? Why, Marissa Jaret Winokur surfs! Who knew?)

And the producers know it: they set the mood right with the opening. Watch it (like I did for the first time last night) and you'll feel magically transported to a simpler, more elegant time...yes, that's right...1979. They've also picked a group of dancers who are bona-fide personalities. OK, maybe not some of the foreign girls, but the Hough siblings would've had their OWN variety show by now if it was really 1979.

Now having a context for the show and its success, it's unbridled gay-ness makes more sense. It's successfully tapped into that margin of entertainment where it's just innocent fun, and watching the show doesn't make you "gay" (for all you straight guys reading this...); it just makes you "current".

And while last week's show featured the undeniably cute but super-creepy Jonas Brothers (can someone PLEASE help me figure out who the "ugly" brother looks like - the one who plays guitar - is it Charles Grodin??? It's driving me crazy), the ante was upped with a two-song performance by none other than Kylie.  Don't kill me, but I actually had trouble getting into her songs. I liked her performance of "All I See" and the choreography was killer, but her hair! I kept thinking of Lauren Tewes from The Love Boat. And for whatever reason, I just wasn't feeling "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". Mighta been the outfit, which looked like some it was a "My First Tranny Outfit" kit.

But with all things gay, there still has to be some sort of "balance", for lack of a better word. So after Steve Guttenburg's man-on-man tango with dancer Jonathan Roberts, the two of them "manned it up", tackling each other (no, that's not gay...) at the end of the routine, then indulging in some chest-bumping and some...what was that...growling?  It was a little over-the-top, but then as noted above, everything about the show is. I was just grateful that they weren't pretending to be grossed by each other, asking for wet wipes after the dance. On the gayest show on TV, that just might be a tad incongruous.

PS: For a run-down on super hot Jason Taylor, head on over to Gay Sports blog!

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