Dancing with the starsThe first season on Disney+ is over! So many changes have already been announced leading up to tonight’s season 31 finale. First, judges Len Goodman and Cheryl Burke gave up. Then Disney gave Bob Chapko kitsch and rewarded Bob Iger with his old CEO chair. A desperate plea from the cheap seats, Mr. Iger: return the mirror ball to the ABC! I think we can all agree that this streaming experiment has gone the way of the polka: nobody wants Disney+ anywhere near a ballroom. Maybe moving back home to Mondays on ABC could be your next major decision after the price cut for Genie+ line-skipping in the parks?
Speaking of redeeming acts, it’s time for the couples to repeat their performances from the season.
Wayne Brady and Whitney Carson. The game show host knew instinctively that he would be asked to repeat the quickstep from Week 6. Len Goodman asked Brady to improve his character and show off his “boyish smile” while performing “Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson. Brady was showing signs of progress, but Goodman wasn’t entirely satisfied. “I must say I thought your frame was stronger… but it needed a little more movement,” Goodman said. “You know I’m a fan of yours… I have to say what I’m saying, it could do with a little more flow. Score: 36 out of 40
Shangela and Gleb Savchenko. With Bruno Tonioli as their mentor, the duo returned to their quickstep from Week 2. Dressed in white top hats and crystal-studded silk costumes, the pair opened the show by strutting to Rochelle Diamante’s “Queen Bee” — but Shangela missed a key step early on that didn’t go unnoticed by the judges. “So many people inspire me, but you excite me,” said Carrie Ann Inaba. “You’ve grown up and that’s the round of redemption.” Score: 36 out of 40
The competition took a short hiatus to say goodbye to Burke, who announced on Sunday that she was leaving the show after 26 seasons. The two-time Mirror Ball champion danced the Argentine tango and samba to “Copacabana” with Pasha Pashkov and Louis Van Amstel before giving a closing speech to the crowd. “This is my family, every single person that was part of this cast, every single person, thank you for believing in me,” she said. “Thank you for helping me find my voice. You were part of my identity. Thank you for pushing me to be the greatest artist I can be.”
Gabby Windey and Val Chmerkovskiy. D’Amelio’s only competition was instructed by Derek Hough to revisit her Cha Cha from Bond Night during Week 3 of the competition. Dressed in the cutest boa constrictor mini skirt, Windey belted it out to “I Like That” by Pete Rodriguez. “Gabby, you have the superpower to embody every dance. You were born to perform,” Hough said. “You definitely redeemed that Cha Cha. Great.” Perfect score
Charli D’Amelio and Mark Ballas. Does the frontrunner really need to redeem himself for past performances? Apparently so: Inaba suggested a jive repeat from Week 5 during Prom Night. And what a repeat it was: Dancing to Little Mix’s “Grown,” D’Amelio positively glowed as he performed Ballas’ stunning choreography. “Charlie, that was remarkable,” Inaba said. “You’ve been so incredible this whole season. This is you, you just danced your heart out.” Perfect score
Next up is the freestyle bike.
Brady and Carson. The game show host channeled his best Bruno Mars in a medley of “24K Magic” and “Get Up” by Ciara ft. Chamillionaire. It wasn’t his most impressive performance of the season – and he didn’t get the back flip he asked for in the trial – but he was delighted with his “perfect” cap for the season. “Looks like you’ve got a smash on your hands,” Tonioli said. “Honestly, you always come off as the biggest showman on the biggest show on TV.” Perfect score
D’Amelio and Ballas. The reality star has opened up about how she quit dancing after absorbing the hate and negativity from followers on TikTok. Then he came DWTSand she was transformed! She fell in love with dance again. What a way to end her ballroom run: D’Amelio’s number with Ballas was a brilliant mix of the best of ballroom – waltz, tango, quickstep, some tap dancing! — to “Us Again” by Pinar Toprak. Man, does Ballas deserve a bonus for coming back this season? “I know what it’s like to lose the love of dance,” said a furious Hough. “That was so powerful, the telling, the telling, but more importantly the two of you, the connection. Perfect score
Šangela and Savchenkov. The show’s first trailer used the final rehearsal package to pay tribute to Savchenko and how he supported her throughout the season. The two expressed their love for each other before getting down to business the mother of all freestyles to “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and “Call Me Mother” by RuPaul. Where to start? Shangela poses on stage on a sky-high stage before launching into a rousing pop and lock? Savchenko embodies a new alter-ego named Nataša and tears down the house? RuPaul, eat your heart out: drag has finally taken over the ballroom and DWTS it’s all the better. “For the first time in 31 seasons, I forgot to vote because I was so engrossed in the whole thing,” Goodman said. “It had performance, it had fun. Perfect score
Windey and Chmerkovskiy. When he thinks of The Bachelorette, Chmerkovskiy says it reminds him of power and sexiness, so he wanted to include that in their final performance. Dance to “Cell Block Tango” by Chicago, the pair began their number in a cage before exploding into a wild tango worthy of Broadway. Bad break for Windey; she looked tripped up when the number ended. But you should have seen when a group of men blew her up! “You are so impressive tonight because something has definitely shifted,” Inaba said. “I’m proud of you for taking this journey. Perfect score
Before announcing the winner, host Tyra Banks announced that the finale received the most votes this season. (If only we knew how many of you actually watched).
The fourth place was taken by Šangela and Savčenková. Bad luck.
Brady and Carson took third place.
Second place went to Windey and Chmerkovskiy.
And in the most anticlimactic ending ever, D’Amelio and Ballas win!
Things we’ve learned since season 31: No one cares if two men dance together. Fans still want to see the show create celebrity dancers, not a celebration of the trained. Three seasons of Tyra Banks is enough, thank you very much. Television can never replace a guy like Len Goodman. And Conrad Green should never leave his role as executive producer again.
Until next season, prom fans?