SYTYCD Shakeup: Cancellation Would've Been Better Than Tween Dancers, Jason Derulo's Return

Tuesday is Groundhog Day, and this So You Think You Can Dance fan has a dream.

Whether or not Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, Fox executives must retreat to the nearest conference room, blast audio of Mary Murphy’s “Hot Tamale Train” battle cry on repeat loop, and not emerge until they’ve sent their blueprint for Season 13 through a cross-cut shredder.

The show’s tweaked title — So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation — seems studiously designed to trick longtime viewers into thinking it’ll be business as usual when the summer reality staple returns May 30 at 8/7c. (“Hey, it’s just the next generation of gals and guys who’ll have to respectively deal with Nigel Lythgoe’s ‘you’re hot!’ and ‘be more masculine!’ critiques.) But don’t be fooled. Gone is the show’s “18 or older” age requirement — replaced by a new edict to spotlight dancers between the ages of 8-13.

Look, no disrespect to the late, great Whitney Houston and her lyric about believing that children are our future, but that philosophy has no practical application in the reality-competition genre.

Remember Fox’s short-lived X Factor, and the sickening, guilty feeling we all got watching its littlest contestants tremble and weep on elimination night? As you watch the embedded video of 13-year-old Beatrice Miller’s fragile psyche getting smashed in front of 10 million viewers, remember that were she in SYTYCD: The Next Generation, she’d be one of the oldest contestants in the competition.

But wait — it gets worse! The middle- and grade-schoolers who impress the judges at auditions in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York will advance to “The Academy” and compete for a slot in the Top 10 — where they’ll be “partnered permanently with a SYTYCD All-Star” (a detail I’m officially filing in the folder marked “C+C Music Factory’s ‘Things That Make You Go Hmmm…‘”).

Do we really want to see grown and sexy SYTYCD alum like Jasmine Harper, Alex Wong, Kathryn McCormick, Robert Roldan, Anya Garnis and Ade Obayomi performing routines with little tykes? One misstep in choreography, costuming or execution, and the show has the potential to wind up at the corner of an Amy Schumer pageant parody and NBC’s To Catch a Predator.

The larger problem, though, is that there’s no way pre-pubescent kids can (or should) be expected to bring to life the types of mature, emotionally gripping pieces that are the hallmark of the perennially Emmy-nominated program. Routines about addiction, seduction, war, breakups, and countless other topics are, quite frankly, impossible or inappropriate fare for eight-year-olds. So should we expect the show to give us two hours of “Good Ship Lollipop” and selections from Frozen and Shrek every single week?

It’s hard to fathom how Fox and SYTYCD producers came up with the idea to meddle with the contestant pool when that’s the one part of the show that maintained its appeal through a decade of changes in choreographers, live-show sets and judges — not to mention last season’s boneheaded “Stage Vs Street” twist.

Ironically, the one aspect of SYTYCD most desperately in need of a complete overhaul — the judges’ panel of Lythgoe, Paula Abdul and especially the consistently terrible Jason Derulo — is the one thing that’ll look exactly the same in Season 13. That’s the equivalent of ordering a kitchen renovation, then coming home to find the contractor’s torn down your entire house, leaving you with nothing but the broken refrigerator, stove and microwave you’d dreamed of replacing for months.

What do you think of SYTYCD‘s latest changes? Are you, as Mr. Derulo loves to say, “Here for it” or are you tuning out this summer? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. A Reader says:

    Bad news – I hear the death knell.

  2. Aislinn says:

    So the Fox execs aren’t satisfied with canceling a wonderful show; instead they need to grind it into the dust with the worst possible idea they could possibly come up with. Everything great about this show has to do with the quality and maturity of the dancers to be able to handle the mature themes the choreographers create for them. Ugh, I am livid.

  3. Mike says:

    Worst idea they could have come up with. I wonder if they can – or will – regroup. Otherwise, I’m out.

  4. I feel like the poll should have a “probably…?” option. If this is some Dance Moms-quality ish, I’m out. If it’s like the stuff on Ellen with cute kids dancing next to their aspirational parents, using them as a gimmick, that always makes me uncomfortable, then it’s a hard no. But I’m hopeful it’s not awful. Nor holding my breath, though.

  5. Larry says:

    I’m pretty angry at the moment. My favorite summer obsession has been ruined with this news. i don’t want cutesy tweens with my dancing. I want emotional adult themed dancing. I don’t know why Fox keeps throwing these gimmicks into the franchise but I’m seriously expecting not to watch this year. I stopped about 3/4 of the way last year because the Street vs Stage theme wasn’t working for me. This is worst then cancelling the show outright. It’s going to go out on a whimper instead of going out with pride.

  6. Jen says:

    please tell me this is a bad joke. I’m so disappointed my once former summer addiction is forced to take its last breaths as this horrible incarnation

  7. Lise says:

    Ugh. Why must they mess up a good thing & the highlight of my summer viewing? Do they really want to drive away their long-time fans? Because this will drive away their long-time fans.

  8. c-mo says:

    Just reading about the tweaks almost gave me the creeps. I find it hard to believe that someone with a brain thought that this was a good idea and that it would attract viewers…although it might attract the wrong kind of viewers.

  9. Guy says:

    Thank you for writing this, Slezak. You’re absolutely right. Reading the news about the new season earlier today was just awful. This is such a terrible idea, I can’t fathom how they thought people would like it. This has been one of my favorite summer shows for years now, and my favorite reality competition series next to Top Chef. But I will not watch this ridiculous season if they really go through with it. And yes, thank you for pointing out how incredibly bad Jason Derulo is as a judge. What an absolute joke this news was today.

  10. David4 says:

    There is that saying “Going out on top!”…

    Fox has never hear of it.

    In my mind the show is canceled.

  11. supertapping says:

    One less show to DVR. This is awful news for SYTYCD fans.

  12. Storm says:

    What the hell was Fox thinking? I love Cat and Nigel. But Jason doesn’t know a thing about judging and Paula is a has been although she had her moments.

  13. busyness says:

    Spot on. I like seeing talented kid dancers–as a one spot performance or (at the most) in an abbreviated season of 1-3 seasons. This is (was?) one of my favorite shows and the thought of it changing to this format makes me think I’m done with it. Jason Derulo (and Paula Abdul) last year were bad enough. Now it’s kid contestants AND Jason and Paula? No thank you.

  14. Dee says:

    Maybe the the Fox and the SYTYCD Producer thought it was April 1st and not Feburary 1st when they made their announcement.

  15. Carmen says:

    Really FOX? REALLY ?!?! I miss the show I used to look forward to every summer. THIS is not SYTYCD. it has become “The Show FOX Keeps Screwing Up”. I hate to say this but These folks are going to cancel it, then give it a proper goodbye then cancel it. I don’t think I’m going to watch with tweens dancing. It absolutely won’t be the same

    • luli101 says:

      Exactly. This is NOT SYTYCD! If they want a kids’ dance competition, then make a show for kids and don’t flush many years of fan loyalty down the toilet.

  16. Melissa says:

    I’m going to at least try to see how it pans out. I’m hoping that the pairing of the young dancers with All -Stars becomes more of a mentorship than a weird pairing. Hopefully we do not descend into stage mom territory because that will kill it for me. But what is going to be the big prize for these tiny dancers? Most of the past winners have had a dance opportunity as part of the winnings. I still can’t stand the judging changes, but dvr at least allows you to fast forward through the Derulo nonsense. I just hope they keep the same joy of the art of dance in the program.

  17. Jenks says:

    Just in case Fox has an intern monitoring these comments, I’ll add my total disgust with this idea. As a fan from season 1, I can honestly say I would rather see the show canceled.

  18. Becky says:

    Only to see what they will do. But am totally not ok with the ages. Why change a good thing.

  19. Carla Krae says:

    Each member of the top 10 will then be partnered permanently with a SYTYCD All-Star to learn routines across all styles of dance, with one contestant going home each week.
    So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation will focus on dancers between the ages of 8-13 who are skilled in dance styles like contemporary, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, animation, or breaking.

  20. Bonnie says:

    I was really hoping that they would be renewed, but this change is ridiculous. They have ruined a wonderful show. It’s always been a highlight of my summer. I won’t be attending this tour. It’s just gross.

  21. Temperance says:

    FOX should never have meddled. Hard pass.

  22. TVDiva777 says:

    I don’t normally comment here, but I couldn’t be silent about this. As soon as I read about this new version, I said I’m out. It is not the show I loved, always moved me in some way and looked forward to every summer. I already deleted it from my DVR series record.

  23. Jessica says:

    Agreed! WTF were they thinking?!

  24. It pains me to vote no in this poll because I love this show. But SYTYCD sounds like a nightmare I don’t want to experience.

  25. Kat Brown says:

    Can we say “Dance Moms 2.0”? No way, just no….

  26. Sam says:

    Absolutely hate this idea! There is a reason I don’t watch Dance Moms (not just the obnoxious stage moms). I feel like if they HAD to mess with it some way, why couldn’t they just do an ultimate all star season and have a bunch of all stars compete to be the best of the all stars? I’ve watched this since the first season and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to it because of this.

  27. stevieweevie says:

    Kids. Derulo. I’m out.

  28. Chuck says:

    They really should have told Nigel to step aside and brought Mary Murphy back with another permanent judge, plus a rotating guest roster … and kept the adult contestants!

    • lechatnoir says:

      i thought they did something great by getting rid of Mia Michaels . A good panel is a mix of Adam Shankman , Maire Murphy Derulo and ty dioro. Derulo is very much okay. I have had enough of both Cat Dealie and Nigel Lythgoe , Nigel is a fossil at this point . its too bad he’s he equivalent of Simon cowell , because he owns the show.

  29. Tierna says:

    So you think you can exploit young kids. Fun show!

  30. Imagecrafters says:

    No. No. Just no. This is so wrong. Feels like a version of Dance Moms.

  31. di says:

    I’ll probably watch this season, because I really like most of the all-stars, but really, really don’t feel like watching a younger set of dancers. Would much rather they kept it 18 and older. I actually did like Paula Abdul last season.

    • Jenks says:

      But what do you think those all stars are going to be able to do? How on earth can Robert do one of his sensationally emotional dances with a 8-13 girl without it looking really, really bad in all kinds of ways? And how is the great Jasmine going to partner a boy who may be a foot shorter?

  32. A.J. says:

    Why don’t they just call it what it is, SYTYCD: Junior. Works for master chef, won’t work here. I agree with everything Mr. Slezak said. Terrible idea.

    • Jenks says:

      I thought about this, too. Master Chef Junior works because it’s little kids cooking like adults in individual and team situations with each other. Cooking is not dancing, Fox! Little kids dancing like adults and/or with adults is just not right. How can anyone think this is a good idea? At the least, it will look ridiculous. At the worst, it will look pervy.

  33. Rafael says:

    1. It’s alrght to bring back Mary Murphy to replace Jason Derulo.

    2. Paula Abdul was alright a judge, but her talking style needs to get polished along the way.

    3. The age range should have been changed from 18-30 to 20-30, nothing else.

    4. This should be a good time to bring back latin-ballroom styles after taking off from season 12.

    • Nina says:

      You’re wrong about #3…… should stay as 18-30. Everything else is much agreeable.

      • Rafael says:

        Well it should have been 14-18, but unfortunately, there is something big in the middle of this current summer season that will disrupt this show’s current season. It is like what happened back in season 9. That is also the reason why they insist on kids this time, but if this show gets renewed up to season 18, then season 17 will be like this current season 13, that’s all.

  34. Sue Bricker says:

    I have been a devoted SYTYCD fan from the beginning. I love, love, love the show. I sat behind Nigel Lithgoe at a show on Broadway a couple of years ago and told him so. I even stuck it out when the show canned Mary Murphy (who I thought was such a plus to have) and then brought on ridiculously placed Jason Derulo. I even stayed when Paula Abdul was brought on. Can’t understand what she says. But this latest change is just too much for me to take. Sorry folks. I’m jumping ship; bailing out. See ya. Not watching this one. Bad move, producers of SYTYCD. BAD MOVE.

  35. Becky says:

    I have been an avid fan of SYTYCD, but I won’t be watching if it’s little kids. Bad decision and probably the end of the show.

  36. Jenks says:

    The video Michael embedded is pretty bad, but I remember one that was even worse, when the little girl, who was 12 I think, actually howled and almost had to be carried off the stage. It was absolutely horrible to watch. So this is what Fox thinks is entertainment: watching little kids screaming and crying when they are eliminated from a situation they should never have been put in in the first place.

  37. Jennifer says:

    I wept when I read about this. One of my favorite shows of the summer. Why would anyone think this is a good idea. Not sure I will be able to watch .

  38. Jill Dalbar says:

    So You Think You Can…watch a dance recital? Totally agree with Michael Slezak and all the other commenters on this one — cancellation would have been better.

  39. Welp, bye SYTYCD – it’s been a good run, watched since the start but I guess that’s it.

    Wouldn’t a better idea have been to raise the age limit to give older dancers a shot and break the whole “once you hit x years old your career is over and you’re doomed to be a teacher or reality tv show judge” cliche? But I guess that might have actually done some good and we can’t have that. Plus who want to look at a bunch of old wrinkly 30-40 year olds, amirite?

  40. Carla J.S. Towers says:

    I Looooove SYTYCD! 1.) Why would they change it? 2) Didn’t we all have enough of Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo 3.) There are soooo many other people, no “dancers” that could judge way better than them. 4.) Frustrated!

  41. P says:

    Inappropriate, disgusting, disputable logic. Either viewers will fall asleep with cutesie dances, want to shower in Lysol thanks to mixing kids with adults in adult-themed dance, or for those sick few, will need a need for a cold shower.
    Count me out.

  42. Sally McLinn says:

    Michael, there is also Little Big Shots coming. When I saw the promos all I could think of was “good god” stage moms will be all over the place. Crying, begging, pushing stage moms. And the kids they feature so far are the losers from AGT. God, spare us.

  43. Julia says:

    I’ve been watching SYTYCD since season 2. I loved watching young **adult** men and women grow as dancers. I have no desire to watch little kids dance (or sing or sew clothes ala Project Runway Junior).

    FOX, if the ratings are bad, just cancel the show. No one is going to watch this one.

  44. sharo says:

    Ive never missed a season, but I will not watch young kids dance with adults – ick. The maturity of the dancers and their chemistry was what made this show for me. I’m out.

  45. Jerry says:

    There was an easy way to do this and make everyone happy and I guess FOX didn’t want to for some reason?

    If they really want kids, then change it from Stage vs Street to Kids vs Adults. Get 10 of each. At the end crown American’s Favorite Kid and Adult. That way you get a lighter side with kids along with the dances everyone is used to from adults.

    It’s not that hard, FOX.

    Oh and also get rid of Jason Derulo.

  46. Kim says:

    The poll needed a hell no option. The focus of this show was dancers with expert skills pushing themselves while working with professional choreographers. I can’t believe the likes of Travis Wall and Sonya Tayeh will agree to choreograph for 8 year olds.

  47. Kate says:

    Eek. I technically gave up on the show a few seasons ago, oddly right after years of convincing my mother to watch and she did, mainly because of scheduling issues. But even before I quit, it was getting to controlling. I mean, I could never really tell how I felt about a male and a female winner, which honestly felt like more of a reaction to Idol’s results at the time rather than this show.

    But, you now have lost the story that happens every year of the toiling dancer who finally was getting recognition as he/she started the show and the choice they had to make. Or the woman or man who had to quit dancing because of family or financial commitments. And now you have also handcuffed Nigel.

  48. Carol says:

    Whose bright idea was this? It’s one thing to watch a show about young dancers competing week to week as is the norm (DANCE MOMS, BRING IT) It’s another to pair them up with adults and have them eliminated.

  49. Patty Stamps says:

    I had watched since season 1 and I stopped watching half way through last season. I kind of hoped it would get cancelled, just to preserve some of its former dignity.

  50. Peggy says:

    I wish they would bring back the show in its original format. For dance lovers, it was a delight to not only watch the development of the dancer’s talent, but the brilliance of some of the choreographers. I have watched every show since it first aired, almost giving up last season when they added “stage vs. street,” (which was really a bad idea), but this will be it for me. I’m done.
    Shame on you Fox and the others involved with these changes!

    • Rafael says:

      There’s a US port financial crash going on along the US west coast area and it force changes on everything there, which includes this show. Secondly, they dropped the 18-30 age range in order to save money more importantly than ratings. They were thinking of using the 14-18 age range for this upcoming season. But since there is a big summer event that will disrupt in the middle of this show’s 13th season, like what happened back on this show’s 9th season, they will have to use the 8-14 age range for now to more carefully save money in order to prevent cancellation. Although, there is no cancellation for this show forever.