Dancing with the Stars‘ first season on Disney+ has come to end! So much change has already been announced going into tonight’s season 31 finale. First, judges Len Goodman and Cheryl Burke have called it quits. Then, Disney gave Bob Chapek the heave-ho and rewarded Bob Iger with his old CEO seat. A desperate plea from the cheap seats, Mr. Iger: return the mirror ball to ABC! I think we can all agree that this streaming experiment has gone the way of the polka: no one wants Disney+ anywhere near the ballroom. Perhaps moving it back home to Mondays on ABC can be your next major decision after lowering the price for the Genie+ line-skipping service at the parks?
Speaking of redemptive acts, it’s time for the couples to redo their performances from the season.
Wayne Brady and Witney Carson. The game show host instinctively knew that he would be asked to redo the quickstep from week 6. Len Goodman implored Brady to improve his frame and show off his “boyish grin” while performing to “Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson. Brady showed signs of progress, but Goodman wasn’t completely satisfied. “I must say I thought your frame was stronger… however it needed a little more movement,” Goodman said. “You know I’m a fan of yours … I have to say what I say, it could have done with a little more flow.” Score: 36 out of 40
Shangela and Gleb Savchenko. With Bruno Tonioli as their mentor, the duo revisited their quickstep from week 2. Dressed in white top hats and crystal-encrusted silk costumes, the pair opened the show by bouncing about to “Queen Bee” by Rochelle Diamante — but Shangela missed a key step at the beginning that didn’t go unnoticed by the judges. “So many people inspire me but you excite me,” said Carrie Ann Inaba. “You have grown and that is what redemption round is about.” Score: 36 out of 40
The competition took a brief break to say goodbye to Burke, who announced Sunday that she’s leaving the show after 26 seasons. The two-time Mirror Ball champ danced the Argentine tango and samba to “Copacabana” with Pasha Pashkov and Louis Van Amstel before giving a final speech to the crowd. “This is my family, every single person that was part of this cast, every single person, thank you for believing in me,” she said. “Thank you for helping me find my voice. You guys have been part of my identity. Thank you for pushing me to be the greatest artist I could be.”
Gabby Windey and Val Chmerkovskiy. D’Amelio’s only competition was instructed by Derek Hough to revisit her Cha Cha from Bond night during week 3 of the competition. Dressed in the cutest little boa mini-skirt, Windey werked it to “I Like It” by Pete Rodriguez. “Gabby, you have a superpower of just embodying every dance. You were born to perform,” said Hough. “You definitely redeemed that Cha Cha. Well done.” perfect score
Charli D’Amelio and Mark Ballas. Does the frontrunner really need to redeem herself for a past performance? Apparently so: Inaba suggested a repeat of the jive from week 5 during Prom Night. And what a repeat it was: Dancing to “Grown” by Little Mix, D’Amelio positively gleamed while performing Ballas’ terrific choreography. “Charli that was remarkable,” said Inaba. “You have proven yourself so incredible this whole season. This is you, you just danced with your heart.” perfect score
Next up, the freestyle round.
Brady and Carson. The game show host channeled his best Bruno Mars in a mixup of “24K Magic” and “Get Up” by Ciara ft. Chamillionaire. It wasn’t his most impressive performance of the season — and he didn’t get to the do a back flip that he asked for in rehearsal — but he was pleased with his “perfect” cap off to the season. “It looks to me you have smash hit in your hands,” said Tonioli. “Honestly, you always perform like the greatest showman on the greatest show on TV.” Perfect score
D’Amelio and Ballas. The reality show star talked about how she stopped dancing after she internalized the hate and negativity from followers on TikTok. Then came DWTS, and she was transformed! She fell back in love with dancing. What a way to end her run in the ballroom: D’Amelio’s number with Ballas was a brilliant hodgepodge of all ballroom’s best — the waltz, the tango, the Quickstep, some tap dancing! — to “Us Again” by Pinar Toprak. Man, does Ballas deserve some bonus pay for returning this season. “I know what it’s like to lose the love of dance,” said a teared up Hough. “That was so powerful, the storytelling, the narrative, but more importantly you two, the connection.” perfect score
Shangela and Savchenko. The show’s first drag entertainer used the final rehearsal package to pay tribute to Savchenko and how supportive he was during the season. The two expressed their love for one another before embarking on the mother of all freestyles to “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and “Call Me Mother” by RuPaul. Where to start? Shangela posing upstage on a sky-high podium before breaking into some rousing pop and lock? Savchenko embodying a new alter-ego named Natasha and bringing down the house? RuPaul, eat your heart out: drag has finally taken over the ballroom and DWTS is all the better for it. “For the first time in 31 seasons I forgot to vote because I was absolutely mesmerized by the whole thing,” said Goodman. “It had performance, it had entertainment.” perfect score
Windey and Chmerkovskiy. When he thinks of the Bachelorette, Chmerkovskiy says she reminds him of strength and sexiness, so he wanted to pad that into their final performance. Dancing to “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, the pair began their number in a cage before exploding into a ferocious tango worthy of Broadway. Bad break for Windey, though; she looked like tripped when the number ended. But you should have seen when the ensemble of men thrust her up into the air! “You are so impressive tonight because something has definitely shifted,” said Inaba. “I’m proud of you for making this journey.” perfect score
Before declaring the winner, host Tyra Banks declared the finale received the most votes this season. (If only we knew how many of you actually watched).
Fourth place went to Shangela and Savchenko. boom
Third place went to Brady and Carson.
Second place went to Windey and Chmerkovskiy.
And in the most anticlimactic finish ever, D’Amelio and Ballas win!
Things we learned from season 31: No one cares if two men dance together. Fans still want to see the show create celebrity dancers, not celebrate trained ones. Three seasons of Tyra Banks is plenty, thank you very much. TV can never replace a guy like Len Goodman. And Conrad Green should never leave his role as executive producer ever again.
Until next season, ballroom fans?
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