So You Think You Can Dance season 17 is set to premiere on May 18, 2022. You’d think we’d be excited about this, but…nope. It’s been almost three years since we last heard Cat Deeley introduce our SYTYCD judges (or “jedges,” if you will). Even after Dancing with the Stars proved they could, eh, mostly pull off a show in the pandemic era, FOX didn’t seem interested in resurrecting the long-running, beloved series that made choreographers household names, launched the careers of countless talented dancers, and made a very particular type of contemporary technique massively popular.
After all, why bring back a reality competition that has had a massive impact on the industry and has racked up the Emmys for choreography (though, um, still nobody’s talking about that choreographer enough)…when you could *checks notes* produce the corny AF shitshow known as The Masked Dancer instead?
Some of us actually care about the art, not the gimmick. Just saying.
Now that the network has decided to allow SYTYCD season 17 its long overdue opportunity to crawl out of the grave, they seem hellbent on forcing it right back to the afterlife before it even takes its first gasping breath.
“Why the bitterness,” you ask? Well.
Let’s start the list of So You Think You Can Dance season 17 judges:
- SYTYCD alum Stephen “tWitch” Boss,
- Former Dance Moms kid, DWTS contestant, and pop star in a bow-bow, Jojo Siwa, and
- Broadway star most known by mainstream folks as “that guy who played the teacher on Glee,” Matthew Morrison.
That’s it. These are your SYTYCD judges…And yeah, we’re judging this.
Now, to be fair, all three of these people are incredibly talented and have tons of knowledge about dance. And our boy tWitch, in particular, obviously knows how this whole journey works…
It’s the names who are notably absent from the list, and the obvious, desperate ploy by the network suits who know less than fuckall about any of this — or even what made the series special in the first place — that’s got us seeing red.
For starters, there will be no dancers riding the Hot Tamale Train during So You Think You Can Dance season 17. Why? Because Mary Murphy isn’t going to be there. Think of it as a Hot Tamale Trainwreck of a decision. As a reminder, FOX has played the “no Mary Murphy” game before — and lost.
So, maybe you’re reading this like, “be fair! Maybe Mary had other obligations or simply wasn’t ready to come back!” And sure, that’s a valid point…until you consider another major name missing from the list: Nigel Lythgoe, the guy who CREATED SYTYCD.
And no, he didn’t merely decline to be a part of So You Think You Can Dance season 17. How do we know that? He said it himself: He wasn’t even asked.
To be clear, tWitch, one of the guys whom potential viewers adore, mostly because of his years of being a part of this show, specifically — Lythgoe’s baby — can be a judge, but Lythgoe…can’t? Make it make sense. I’m begging.
The whole thing is obviously, when you look at JoJo and “that guy from Glee,” FOX’s way of trying to appeal to a younger audience.
On paper, to someone who can’t tell a pas de chat from a pas de bourrée, that approach would make sense…But in reality, it’s fucking stupid.
Lythgoe and Murphy weren’t exactly tween sensations when the series premiered in 2005, and we still showed up to watch. Why? Because So You Think You Can Dance was about the dance and has always been quality. Period. There are literally audition videos of contestants from more recent seasons, who said they grew up watching this show as a young dancer and always wanted to be on it.
It should be obvious but apparently isn’t: Aspiring young dancers will tune in to something that honors the thing they love and seeks to highlight the best of the best in talent. A need to be “hip,” no doubt forced on SYTYCD season by a bunch of old white dudes who have never danced in their lives and probably think it would magically turn them into rainbow-shitting unicorns if they tried, isn’t going to increase viewers. Hell, it probably won’t decrease them significantly either.
What will bring in viewers…is the same thing that has always attracted us: a damned fine dance competition. And last I checked, we could never have had such a stellar competition without Nigel Lythgoe creating the series and Mary Murphy bringing that train into the station. I’d also love to know how you’re going to start auditions, which we’ve seen less and less of over the years —again, because of shitty network decisions — without Nigel there to say, “cue music.”
Cue mindless pandering to the locals instead…God forbid we actually just…keep doing what works and educating the masses, one dreaded quickstep at a time.
Basically, our message to So You Think You Can Dance season 17 is: We’ll be watching. And besties? You’re, quite literally, going to have to dance for your life.