I expected tonight’s voting results to be chaotic. The judges usually work to limit the worst instincts of voters: When the judges love a performance, the voters tend to follow suit. When they dislike it, a crew will end up in the bottom two. Back in the second season, Boogie Bots were proceeding merrily along until Lil Mama talked some smack about them. It was rude, but it got the job done. Sometimes, as with Iconic Boyz last year, identity-based voting can still trump a judge’s disapproval. But generally speaking, tastes eventually align.
Last week, though, there were two problems with the idea of using the judges to sort through the chaos. First, with only one judge for each performance, we didn’t get any diversity of opinion. Second, every performance was given a “really good” review—everyone got roughly a B+. So pretty much any crew could have showed up in the bottom two tonight, and I wouldn’t have been surprised. It’s somewhat worrying (I have no idea how Collizion Crew ended up so low last week) but also a little exciting. In terms of performance, having clear favorites makes the show better, but in terms of drama, a bunch of evenly matched crews is great too.
The end result—Stepboys go home—was probably fair, and not really surprising (although they did turn in their best performance of the season). What was surprising was that Fanny Pak, one of the clear favorites for the season, was Stepboys’ competition as lowest vote-getter. Its performance last week was no better or worse than anyone else’s, but I’d have figured Fanny Pak’s reputation would have protected the crew from this for a while. Still, once its fun, theatrical performance started, it became clear that its members weren’t in any real danger of being sent home. Although there was some judging drama between Lil Mama and D-Trix, something that’s been in short supply since the fairly happy-go-lucky D-Trix was added to the show.
The other major event of the episode came before the 8 Flavahz performance, when the intro revealed that one dancer, Angel, had a mother who is struggling with cancer. Normally, America’s Best Dance Crew isn’t a personality-based reality show, but this was so emotional that it overwhelmed the show’s usual detachment. So 8 Flavahz came out and did a performance that essentially says “We love Angel!” Lil Mama and D-Trix both went all-in for this, leaving J.C. to say, uncomfortably, that the piece was more a series of nice moments for a crewmember than a complete performance. In a competition built around subjective voting and judging, having one crew with a major emotional distinction from the other crews can make things difficult.
Rated Next Generation, the other crew of youngsters, had its best performance so far, getting aggressive with the Drake track it was assigned. That worked well with the group’s style, although J.C. wanted more levels, as J.C. does (and is usually right to do). Mos Wanted Crew turned in another slick performance, but like D-Trix, I’m convinced these guys can do more and do it better. They’re still the favorites, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they got knocked out unless they started showing more variety or improvement.
My favorite performance of the night came from Electrolytes, a crew that’s slowly growing on me. I loved how it formed the line to do the floating trick, and then broke out of the line asymmetrically (asymmetry is something that the competition hasn’t learned yet). And I was also happy to see Collizion Crew safe this time around. Given that it danced to Madonna-goes-country last time, the crew seemed a sure bet to be screwed by voting. Its performance tonight wasn’t stellar, but its swaggery tutting was a lot of fun, deservedly praised by the judges.
With Stepboys gone, the competition is about to get especially interesting. Each of the six crews remaining has the talent and smarts to win, so most every elimination is likely to be a disappointment. That might actually be less fun than having clear favorites to root for; I’m not sure that such tension actually makes America’s Best Dance Crew more fun.
- Lil Mama drops her pen with “unh” for emphasis after a particularly judging a good performance.
- Drake’s always bored me when I’ve tried his music in the past, and after seeing tonight’s show, I’m… not inspired to seek out more. But it was fine.