In addition to propping up sagging careers and boosting network numbers, Dancing with the Stars may prove useful in helping cut young tabloid stars down to size.
The 11th season premiere of the ABC hit Monday almost single-handedly quashed the confidence of the Jersey Shore star The Situation, and made it seem even more silly that Bristol Palin -- the out-of-wedlock teen mom shamelessly and confusingly described as a "public advocate for teen pregnancy prevention" -- was ever in the public eye in the first place.
Just as in an earlier season where Kim Kardashian suddenly looked stiff and talentless, the current season brought these young people to new light.
Why, for example, is Audrina Patridge considered a star? Her fuzzy ex-boyfriend, Justin Bobby, must be home stewing.
On a season that also stars a creaking David Hasselhoff, and Jennifer Grey already playing her Patrick Swayze-card in week one, young Palin stood out for sheer weirdness, in a costume that looked like a prim politician complete with an American flag -- only to break out with a short, red go-go dress.
All to Randy Newman's song, "Mama Told Me Not to Come."
She related. "It's like Levi and my relationship: Mama told me not to do it, but I did it anyway," she tells her dance partner.
"I've always listened to my mom growing up, but there are sometimes that I haven't. So this song is a playoff of that," she tells the camera, in a line that probably hasn't been part of her speeches as public advocate for teen pregnancy prevention.
Her partner, two-time winner Mark Ballas, seems to be frustrated at her inability to shimmy, shake or move in any way at first. "She's only in the public eye because of her mom," he says. "We have to find a way to make her stand out."
"Just have fun and go balls out," Ballas tells her -- the kind of advice John McCain did not give her mother about campaigning.
"If I can do half of what Mark has taught me, bring some sexy to the cha-cha and not embarrass my mom, I'll be thrilled."
She tears off her conservative grey suit, lets down her hair and begins the cha-cha with the pro, throwing her bare leg up at points. Her shimmy with the fringe gets a bit lost in the camera angle, but it ends with her up-close to Ballas, and his hand on her behind.
"I think that was a very acceptable performance for week one," says dean of the judges table Len Goodman. "Just loosen up a bit."
Bristol you have some fantastic legs!" enthused judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who called her "girlfriend."
Their score -- 18 out of 30 -- was in the middle of the pack, equal with Florence Henderson, who is 57 years her senior.
Tied for lowest score of the night was Mike Sorrentino, who is only referred to as his self-inflicted "Jersey Shore" nickname, The Situation. His excuse was that he only had five days to rehearse, compared to the three weeks everyone else got because the third season of Jersey Shore only stopped shooting last week. Still, he looked as if he thought sheer swagger would get him through. It never did.
"My dancing background consists of many, many nights at the club," he says. But beating up the beat doesn't go far on a ballroom competition.
Goodman didn't know quite what to say. "I'm in an awkward situation, Situation," he began. "You've got the guns but not the ammunition."
Bruno Tonioli name-dropped another MTV show by telling him "You're going to look like a jackass if you carry on like that."
And Inaba told him to drop the 80s dance moves, and a pointing finger thing that more closely resembled Travolta in Saturday Night Live.
His lowly score of 15 was shared by Margaret Cho, who pretended to get wrapped up in her costume for comic effect -- didn't go over well with judges -- and Hasselhoff, the former judge on America's Got Talent who deserved a good buzzing himself. "It's never too early to panic," Goodman said.
Tonioli called it "a potpourri of insanity disguised as dance."
Which might describe the whole show, as it sets the mind reeling for who'd be on next season. Farrah from Teen Mom? Catherine O'Donnell? The Bieb?
(Oh, they'd wish.)
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