Bristol Palin finished in third place on last night's "Dancing With the Stars" finale, behind Kyle Massey and the season's champion, Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey — a reassuring result, no doubt, for fans who had bemoaned the poorly reviewed contestant's success to date. Still, regardless of the outcome, Palin was clearly "Dancing's" main attraction this season, proving that a political pedigree and dancing are a combustible mix: A record 24 million viewers tuned in to watch her final dance on Monday night. How did Bristol's controversial tenure change the show — and her public image? (Watch the final results announcement)
Bristol has paved the way for more "political" contestants: The show's executive producer has noted that he worried about angering viewers by casting Bristol, says Melissa Bell at The Washington Post. "I am guessing the phenomenal ratings somewhat mitigated his [anxiety]." (Let's not forget Tom DeLay and Tucker Carlson's turns as well.) With all the controversy Bristol stirred up, "I'd be willing to guess that means a future 'DWTS' with at least one polarizing political figure in its dancing fold."
"Dancing with the Stars": Who will be next year's Bristol?
And not just any political contestant — another Tea-Party-connected one: All the anger over Bristol's advances was a recipe for success, says David Zurawik at The Baltimore Sun. And if the Sarah Palin-approved Christine O'Donnell joins the cast next season, as rumored, "the cycle will repeat itself with even higher ratings." The failed Delaware Senate candidate will advance despite a lack of talent, ABC will blame "angry Tea Party folks" who are "gaming the network's otherwise honest system." Meanwhile, the "liberal media outlets will lap up that phony narrative like catnip."
"Jennifer Grey wins 'Dancing' — but ABC wins bigger"
Bristol made the competition — and the criticism – personal: Like her mother, Bristol "made a virtue of inexperience," says Alessandra Stanley at The New York Times. But she took the wrong tack by using "hardened" language to address her many critics and "ended up as a political activist" by taking on her mother's enemies as her own. Bristol chose to be a contestant so she could "establish her own identity," but she "ended up right back where she began: as Sarah Palin's daughter."
"The TV watch: 'Dancing' in circles"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
Subscribe to the Week