The other morning, I was listening to the Alice morning radio show (Sarah and Vinnie). They were talking to two other morning show staffers, all of whom apparently do not understand the huge popularity of Dancing with Stars. I think, if they watched it for maybe three weeks in a row, they would get it. Maybe they still wouldn't like it too much, but they would understand why so many people get into it.
There are some obvious reasons people might enjoy the show. For instance, some people like watching dancing. Some people like light fare/variety shows. Some might watch for the leggy women in sexy costumes (although, funny enough, my cousin said one of the reasons she didn't like the show was because of those "slutty outfits"). But those would only account for a small sample of folks; it wouldn't explain the huge ratings. I know why the show is so popular because, although I wasn't the least bit interested in the show to begin with, I got drawn in with the multitudes.
Here's what happens:
You are watching this show, maybe there is some athlete or soap opera star or someone else you recognize. You think, "Hey, I gotta give this guy/gal credit. It takes a certain amount of guts to get out there in front of the world and potentially make an ass of yourself." Then the next guy comes along, and you don't know who in the hell he is, but he's overweight and awkward and working very hard. You think, "Hey, I gotta give this guy credit because he is really out on a limb." Then you see the clips of the how hard everyone works for 8 to 12 hours each day, getting their butts kicked, and you think, "Geez, I give them all credit for working their tails off and putting so much heart and effort into this." And THEN you start to love someone like Hines Ward. I did not know or care who Hines Ward was, but after a couple of weeks watching this guy work his ass off and then lay it all down there on the floor, I was a fan.
Here's the thing. You get to like these people. Chaz Bono is a very portly female-to-male transexual. He is also, from all appearances, a genuinely nice guy. The fact that he is willing to sweat it out in training all week, and then put on some shiny pants and shake his buns out there for the TV cameras, makes him pretty darned gutsy. And, I'll be damned, he's getting better at it!! You just have to give these people credit; it takes balls.
When Kelly Osbourne was on the show a few seasons back, she underwent some kind of pivotal life change. You see that happen in some of the contestants. Kelly seemed to go from being a snarky, chubby, insecure girl to a lovely, gracious, young woman. Somehow, she morphed from bratty rockstar-kid into Grace Kelly. And she stayed that way...she's still that way. And it all started with Dancing with the Stars.
So, that's why it is so popular. You really end up rooting for someone...or multiple someones. Sure, it's fun, colorful and amusing. But the real draw is seeing hard work and improvement. You like it, you admire it, and, sometimes, you are rewarded with seeing a real-life caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation.
PS> GO JR!!! YOU ROCK!!!