Dancing With the Stars: 12 Unexpected Twists to Reignite the Ratings Fire

Dancing With the Stars is set to announce its latest cast Sept. 4 on Good Morning America, and yes, we forgive you if you were overcome by a tidal wave of ennui reading the first half of this sentence.

After all, ABC’s reality juggernaut is entering its 17th season (!), and how many times can you be expected to “ooh” and “aah” over a roster that’s sure to include “former NFL pro,” “aging boy-band member,” “goofball comic,” “Olympic medalist” and “model you don’t recognize even after a Google search”?

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Which got us thinking: What could DWTS do to make like The Cars and “Shake It Up” — especially in light of the fact that ratings for its Season 16 finale were down a whopping 21 percent from the year prior? Perhaps, instead of a broad mix of contestants — and a broad mix of talent levels — the ballroom battle could introduce the idea of “Theme Seasons,” pitting apples against apples and oranges against oranges (or, at the very least, other members of the citrus family).

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Check out our ideas below for 12 possible themes we’d use to restore luster to the hallowed Mirrorball Trophy, then hit the comments with your own brainstorming session. And for all my reality TV news, commentary and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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. Heather says:

    I would like to see a super-fan edition. Maybe a smaller season or pit “celebs” against fans that have been watching for years.

    • Jon says:

      It’s Dancing with the Stars, not Dancing with the Fans.

      Personally, I would love to see the elimination of the obviously staged behind the scenes packages.

      • Heather says:

        Let’s be honest here, Jon. ABC takes the word “Star” and stretches it to the absolute limit.

        • sg says:

          So true. A lot of times the dancers are bigger stars and than the people they are dancing with.

          • Harmony says:

            Which is why I’ve always believed that the “Stars” in the title refers to the pro dancers, and the “dancing with” referring to whomever is lucky enough to be partnered with them.

  2. John says:

    “hockey pro like Sean Avery” hahahahahaahahahah not even. He doesn’t even play in the NHL anymore, and barely played when he was in it. I know this show is all about the washed-up has-beens, but if there’s going to be an athlete’s season I want real athletes.

  3. fragmented says:

    I’d like to see the most talented dancers actually WIN, instead of being voted off before the final 3.

  4. S Buts says:

    Can we just stop with “Reality” TV. I mean they script these anyway. Let’s get back to good old fashion scripted shows with real up and coming actors trying to make a name for themselves instead of has beens trying to reignite what they once had. Just a thought

  5. Still giving up on DWTS already.

  6. wrstlgirl says:

    Get rid of Carrie Ann and I may start watching again.

  7. scifisiren says:

    RuPaul would be awesome.

  8. DreamRose311 says:

    Seems like the themes would kind of cut out the people who are fans of people who don’t fit in the theme…

    The All Stars season was awesome and fun, but I think that’s part of what damaged the show, it made the regular seasons seem even weaker.

  9. qj201 says:

    Alyssa Andrews…from RuPaul’s Drag Race…is a trained dancer…as a boy! Would be fierce!

  10. GS says:

    As much as I completely love my DWTS, I would be out if they did all reality TV! I am so over the Housewives, Kardashians, and all the other people desperately trying to extend their 15 minutes. I don’t mind the format now but I think all comedy would get old fast b/c most of them can’t dance for crap which is the point of the show. I just hope they don’t go overboard with reality folks this time or I really will check out and I love the show.

  11. nobody special says:

    Here’s my theme idea: any star, any reality “celebrity” (makes for good early cannon fodder) any former kid star, athlete, whatever. same sex, opposite sex, any pairing you want. JUST NO RINGERS. Let’s let everybody start the season with two left feet and see what we have at the end. Oh, and if there are no adorably perky stars of Disney shows on, that’s a bonus too.

  12. Jenny says:

    I wish they would just go back to dancing and not all the props and gimmicks for each dance. It my same problem with AI as well. Every performance is OVER produced that it actually makes someone better than they really are.

  13. Kim R says:

    Homewreckers! Oh my word…so true…don’t we all still see that couple and think that very first thing! :)

  14. Belle says:

    This should be the last season…so let’s retire DWTS and put all of us out of miseries!!! This show has gotten old and way too predictable and most of all it’s not fun anymore!!! I hung up my dancing shoes 4 seasons ago – sorry folks, it’s stale and a total waste of prime time slots where real shows can locate themselves :)

  15. Montavilla says:

    Instead of co-hosts, how about judges? Wouldn’t it be fun to see Simon Cowell and Tyra Banks standing up there, getting lambasted by Len and Carrie-Ann? There are so many people who have judged some show or other by this time, there’d be plenty of stars to choose from. Especially if you stretched the theme to include people like Judge Judy. Or Judge Reinhold.

    Another theme along the “former child stars” concept: Celebrity off-spring. Bristol Palin, Kelly Osbourne, and Chaz Bono have done pretty well on the show. I’m sure there are plenty of other celebrity spawn who wouldn’t mind doing this to help launch their own fledging careers.

  16. Ang says:

    OMG. My heart skipped a beat at the idea of Idris Elba and Dmitry Chaplin together. And I don’t even usually have a thing for guys-on-guys.

  17. CultureVulture says:

    Wait more importantly: Tristan is ENGAGED?!?! Nooooooooooo

    • Angela says:

      I KNOW! That was my reaction, too. Damnit! *Snaps fingers in disappointment*
      Seriously, though, as for the ideas listed: I love the suggestions for hosts, funny people (mainly because I have a couple celebrities I’d LOVE to see on there…course, they’re probably/definitely a bit “too big” of names for a show like this, but still, I can dream), and same-sex couples.
      Ones I’m not as jazzed about? The “archrivals”/”image rehabilitators” ones. Really not in the mood to watch people’s personal sniping play out over a season and possibly overshadow the actual competition itself, and the “image” one…some of those celebrities I’m already tired enough of hearing about as it is, I’m really not interested in seeing them every week, and there’s better ways to improve their image than go on a dancing show, I’d say.

  18. Jake says:

    It’s really unfair to blame to show on the drop in ratings, it does have to go up against the voice and really both shows should not be going head to head

  19. Don says:

    How about LeAnne, Eddie AND their ex’s competing in the same season?

  20. Leanna says:

    I laughed out loud at the last one!! HOME WRECKERS!

  21. Beverly Hill says:

    How about not giving the most accomplished dancers to Derek Hough. I would love to see Derek with someone who has two left feet, or the aging actress/songstress. I’d love to see if he can bring them to the win or even at least third place. Now there’s a concept.