Bristol Palin, 'the fighter,' takes third on 'Dancing With the Stars'
The haters rested easy and the world was safe again for televised dance competitions Tuesday as Bristol Palin finished third on "Dancing With the Stars," heading off dire predictions by the likes of Joy Behar and bajillions of hysterical online commenters about what might happen if Sarah Palin's daughter dared to succeed.
Did we mention it's just a TV show?
"Congrats Jen, Kyle, Bristol, et al, for proving competition is GOOD!," Sarah Palin said Tuesday night on Twitter. "Remember: 'They're going to criticize anyway, so you might as well dance!'" (See Mom's reaction at a book signing in Arizona, below.)
Bristol's "DWTS" stint started with the challenge of a five-day drive down from Alaska and finished with reports of a man shooting his TV when she held on to make the final three, and a death threat now being investigated by the FBI. Fan votes for weeks had been mighty enough to bump her and partner Mark Ballas past the pairs with the second-lowest judges' scores. Hostility over results found Ballas taking a break from Twitter during the season's final week.
Judge Bruno Tonioli worked with Bristol and Mark during a final-week rehearsal, leading to some comical moments coming from his over-the-top personality juxtaposed with Palin's more shy demeanor. Tonioli said of the couple's "favorite dance" on Tuesday, "This is the dance that showed us Bristol the fighter, more focused, more confident.
"You found your footing in this competition and you earned your place in the finale I think through this," he said. "Because you've always been a clean dancer, but your performance level started to develop with the tango, and it's still here to be seen." The studio audience seemed to agree, giving a standing ovation that included fellow competitor Kyle Massey pumping his hands over his head in support.
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba had a theory about "Bristol the Pistol's" fan appeal.
Non-celebrity Palin's casting on the show was a chatter-starter from the beginning. "I’ve talked to Bristol a lot, and she's lovely. She's this sweet girl-woman," head of casting Deena Katz told Show Tracker in August. "She’s very mature for her age. A lot has clearly happened to her in just a few years."
Katz continued: "She's totally self-sufficient. She's not scared. ... She’s a great addition to the cast. I don't think you've heard her talk that much. She's a great 19-year-old girl with her head totally on her shoulders."
By the end of the season, Bristol was indeed talking more, saying in preshow comments Tuesday, "Going out there and winning this would mean a lot. It would be like a big middle finger out there to all the people out there who hate my mom and hate me."
-- Christie D'Zurilla