Maks Chmerkovskiy turned up the heat in the Dancing With the Stars ballroom this week by returning as a judge during Switch Up Week, where the contestants work with different pro dancers for one week only. His appearance was not without controversy, though.
Veteran fans of the dance competition show have long argued about Chmerkovskiy coming in to judge his brother, pro Val Chmerkovskiy, and his fiancée Peta Murgatroyd. However, Julianne Hough spent three seasons judging brother Derek Hough and close friend Mark Ballas. No one said anything was ever fair when it comes to sequins and spray tans.
Yet the former DWTS pro did a fair job when it comes to judging ballroom dances. One of the biggest social media complaints about the ABC show is that the judges are too involved with the fluff and not enough of the substance.
Carrie Ann Inaba gets caught up with calling out improper lifts with some couples while forgetting to do it with other couples. Bruno Tonioli loves to dramatize each critique, but sometimes the theatrics are exhausting. Len Goodman is the most traditional of the judges, but his grumpiness turns a few fans off.
Chmerkovskiy is a certified ballroom judge, so he does bring legitimate credentials to the table like Goodman. His notes about adding more content was a refreshing change from the stale panel.
What was confusing to viewers was that Goodman and Chmerkovskiy focused on content while Inaba and Tonioli were all about the performance. What are the judges are looking for from the contestants and the pros?
It might have worked better if the ballroom content strategy was adopted from the first week of the season. The judging has been all over the map from week to week, and it has to be frustrating for the pros to figure out how to move their partner up the leaderboard.
On the flip side, it can be noted that Chmerkovskiy gave his highest scores to his brother and his fiancée’s regular partner, Nyle DiMarco.
This week, DiMarco was paired up with Sharna Burgess, who delivered her best choreography of the season with a Viennese Waltz. Not only did the duo sweep the ballroom floor with fluid movements, but they also shared an emotional connection that made Inaba cry.
While no one explained the discrepancy of scores — Chmerkovskiy and Tonioli shouted out “10” while the graphics had them giving Burgess and DiMarco a “nine.” Hosts Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron confirmed the lowers scores, and the home audience screamed at their TV screens. It still doesn’t make sense.
When it came time to judge his sibling with this week’s partner, Jodie Sweetin, Chmerkovskiy was right on target with the other judges. Let’s also be honest: This was the best Sweetin has danced the entire season. She’s been struggling under Keo Motsepe’s tutelage, so the Ukranian influence was just what she needed.
It’s really hard for anyone to see clearly from the judging panel when you have siblings, significant others and former girlfriends and boyfriends out on that dance floor. The ballroom is a small world and it gets even smaller in the DWTS universe.