The "Dancing With the Stars" judge breaks down the highs and lows of Whitney Houston night, including the 'Brady Bunch' actor's elimination.
Each week during Dancing With the Stars, judge Carrie Ann Inaba will answer a few questions about the season 32 contestants and their race to win the Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy. Today, Carrie Ann shares her thoughts via email about why Alyson Hannigan brought her to tears, her last-minute decision in her dance-off vote and her thoughts on the end of the road for fan-favorite Barry Williams.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You praised Harry Jowsey for showing marked improvement tonight. But be honest, are you a little bit shocked he's still here? Do you think his popularity on TikTok is impacting voting?
CARRIE ANN INABA: I praised Harry for the improvements I observed. There was a glimmer of grace shining through! And for beginners it’s important to continue to encourage their progress. Harry and Alyson [Hannigan] have improved the most in this competition and that deserves recognition and applause. They have listened to the judges feedback and have tried to implement it.
What's apparent is that Harry has a huge fan base and they are supporting him. This fan base is likely influencing the voting, which isn't surprising. It reminds me of the season when Bobby Bones danced with Sharna Burgess. Despite low scores on the judges' leaderboard, he went on to win the season due to strong fan support.
Alyson's contemporary dance brought you to tears tonight. Can you elaborate on what you found so moving about it?
Dance has always been such a gift in my life, because it allows for expression that goes beyond what words can say. Movement allows us to say what words cannot and besides being a beautiful art form, it’s a powerful form of self care and love. I was moved to tears by Alyson’s dance because I see that she has found that gift and she will be able to tap into that for the rest of her life. That's the true healing power of dance. I could also relate to her story… I think many people could. I felt her truth, I think every one did. It was very moving. I’m proud of her and happy for her.
Xochitl Gomez and Val Chmerkovskiy nabbed season 32's first perfect score. Were you surprised it was them to get it? Knowing that Xochitl was dancing with an injured ankle, does that temper your assessment of her performance in any way?
Xochitl danced the Tango like a pro, as if she had been doing it her whole life. If you watch it again, you'll notice the perfect blend of fluidity, flexibility, power, and captivating performance, all infused with her unique storytelling style.
I'd also like to highlight her impeccable Tango hold, which is slightly different from other ballroom holds. She got it just right, with that pinky finger lifted just so, demonstrating precise pressure points to maintain the proper frame and point of contact. This is a skill not many can master in such a short time. Kudos to Xochitl and Val for elevating the game and bringing the ballroom to life last night. It was absolutely exquisite!
The crowd went wild for Barry when he ripped open his shirt. Was that moment as fun there as it looked on TV?
When Barry ripped open his shirt, the whole ballroom exploded with joy! It was a moment that will go down in DWTS history as one of most memorable of all time!
You were really waffling with those signs, so how much of a snap decision was it to choose Barry and Peta there over Jason Mraz and Daniella Karagach?
Just to clarify, in our dance-offs, we all voiced our preferences and then voted. This time, as a group, we chose Barry over Jason with a 3-1 vote, which was surprising given Jason's past performance. Dancing With the Stars is known for its moments of surprise and delight, where contestants discover hidden talents. And Barry's Salsa showed that showmanship can outshine technique and Barry's performance also conveyed a powerful message – age shouldn't limit your enthusiasm. He's one of the oldest competitors to make it this far, alongside Tommy Chong. Kudos to Barry for showing that you can live life to the fullest at any age.
Barry made it further than either of his fellow Brady Bunch cast members. What do you think was his key to success? And how sad were you to see him go?
Barry is the ultimate showman, known for his smooth moves and captivating showmanship! What set him apart was his inviting warmth, making every dance a joyful experience. He made you feel like a friend, inviting you in to cheer him on with genuine enthusiasm. It was truly sad to see him go, but he left on a an incredibly high note. I had the chance to speak with him after the show and expressed my gratitude for his performances. And thanked him for bringing so much joy to the ballroom and giving so many people hope in this complicated time we are living in.
Also, I believe Florence Henderson, who also competed on the show years ago and has since passed away, would have been immensely proud of him. Barry used to watch the show when Florence was on, and he carried on her legacy with grace and charmed everyone along the way.
Jason and Charity Lawson both ended up in the bottom. They've both also been atop the leaderboard. What next level stuff do you need to see from them to keep them in it?
It's clear that Jason could benefit from a confidence boost. He seems to have lost some of the confidence he displayed in the first three episodes, particularly in his standout performance with the jive. The journey on Dancing With the Stars is never easy, and it can be especially challenging for those who are naturally skilled dancers because higher expectations come with greater ability.
We tend to scrutinize the details of their dances not to nitpick, but to identify areas holding them back from achieving their ultimate goal, which is to win or earn a perfect score. Jason possesses musicality, technique, showmanship, and the talent necessary to succeed on DWTS. However, at this stage in the competition, he should avoid becoming too internalized during his performances. Sometimes, he appears to be in his own world, merely "grooving," rather than fully competing on DWTS. I encourage him to embrace a more competitive spirit and be "in it to win it.”
Charity is undoubtedly a talented dancer with incredible skill but winning DWTS requires more than just skill. It’s not just a ballroom dance competition. That’s what makes it so special. To win DWTS you have to also show growth. The audience and the judges want unforgettable performances that leave a lasting impact, like Xochitl's Tango did. I can’t speak for all the judges, but I know my feedback comes from a place of wanting to help each contestant achieve their goals. After 32 seasons, I have a good sense of what resonates with America and I try to guide contestants towards delivering honest and heartfelt performances where they reach their fullest potential.
With Charity there has been some resistance to our feedback. But I think she is finally beginning to understand what we are asking for. It’s difficult to put away your ego to really listen to honest feedback and go to places where you are uncomfortable. But that is where the true growth lies — in the uncomfortable places. The key is to connect your heart to your performances, your partner and the audience while executing the choreography and technique needed. It’s no small task, but there are great rewards when it’s achieved.
Why is there no judges' save this year? And is there one couple so far that you really wish you would have been able to save?
I must say that I'm pleased that as of this stage in the competition there hasn’t been a judges’ save! I prefer not to have the final say in determining who stays or goes. Our job is to judge, but the fourth or sometimes fifth judge has always been the audience. This makes our fantastic DWTS viewers an integral part of the show by giving them a say in the outcome. That is what makes the DWTS family what it is. It’s always been us and the viewers. We do it together.
Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.