'Dancing With the Stars' results: And the winner is...
In what was the closest competition in series history, Olympic gold medalist and all-around athlete adorable Shawn Johnson narrowly edged out sexy Frenchman Gilles Marini for the title of Season 8 “DWTS” champion.
The 17-year-old gymnast from West Des Moines, Iowa, grew in leaps and bounds as the competition progressed, and with the nurturing, twirly guidance of partner Johnny Castle Mark Ballas, was remade a ballroom dance superstar. Though she was tied with Gilles coming into Tuesday night’s finale, the voters ultimately gave spry Shawn the advantage: Maybe it was because of her perfect-30 freestyle routine the night before. Or as a reward for how far she’s come out of her shell. Or maybe it was a vote for America. Whatever the reason, that 18-inch globe of glittery goodness, the coveted Mirrorball trophy — the highest honor in reality TV about ballroom dancing — is hers. (A special shout-out to those of you who joined in our live chat on Tuesday: We totally called it!)
Shawn not only is the youngest competitor ever to win this much-esteemed honor, but she also made good on Apolo Anton Ohno’s bold claim that no Olympian who had made the finals had ever not won their season (maybe it should be dubbed the golden medal rule). Shoot, as an Olympian, maybe she thrived on that pressure. And yay to Mark Ballas as well for winning his second “DWTS” title with his second “DWTS” Olympian and joining Cheryl Burke and Julianne Hough as repeat pro winners. Do you think this’ll make buddy and bandmate Derek Hough that much hungrier to win the following cycle?
Still, credit should be given to the sexilicious Gilles. He was a formidable competitor this entire season and had the entire package in terms of attitude, skill and the uncanny ability to look good in tight-fitting pants. You know, less than 1% separated Shawn and Gilles. It was almost as if they could be co-winners, no? Certainly, Gilles should be able to keep his head (and the rest of his finely sculpted body) held high, firm in the knowledge that he is a true dancer.
The road to this victory was long and hard, however. And I’m not talking about the 11 weeks of competition. I’m talking about the two hours of filler. Segments about the judges sizing up the final three, previous contestants sizing up the final three, and the final three sizing up the final three. Though it was amusing to see that some of the finalists’ comments about one another rivaled Ross’ roast: Melissa made fun of Shawn’s height, and Gilles made fun of Melissa’s “Bachelor” history. His faux-earnest “Melissa, please take this rose. I’m taking the trophy” got as many surprised and disapproving groans as when Ross said, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if she came in second on this show too?”
Ross’ roast turned out a lot tamer than I thought it was going to be. Maybe because I was preparing for the worst. I liked how he said Bergeron is an old French word meaning “Seacrest” and called the judges “Smoking, Croaking and Flaming.” That this was “the first season where no actual stars made it to the finale. This isn’t a who’s who, this is a who are you?” That Belinda Carlisle was dressed “like a hooker from ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ ” Felt like he took the easy route when he picked on Steve “the Woz” Wozniak so much, though (“Was it you who took the bite out of the Apple logo?”). I mean, the guy’s a self-proclaimed geek; of course he would be an easy target. And brava to Lil’ Kim for taking his “I guess it’s not easy doing the cha cha cha with a bulletproof vest” and “she’s just doing community service” comments in good-humored stride.
Lady GaGa performed two songs. And she kind of scares me. Her costumes sure fit into the “DWTS” world, however: For her mega-hit “Just Dance,” the Lady wore a sparkly black unitard with one leg cut off and a big butterfly decal hanging from it, like a scapular. And it was another unitard for the song “LoveGame,” only this time it was pinkish-purple and sequined and she had sparkly skin. And she wielded something that looked like a glowing toilet brush. Did you catch Bruno going crazy over her second number in the background? Wild!
There was also a lot of Season 8 recap. Remember Holly Madison and her abundant ... fringe? Belinda, we’ve missed you! The Woz with his pink feather boa! I didn’t like how Tom peer-pressured the Woz to do the Worm, however: He obviously wasn’t prepared for it, and the world might have been a better place had it not witnessed this inflexible and highly unsuccessful attempt. Denise Richards and Maks performed their quickstep, which was very convenient, because Maks just had to put on a vest and another tie for his other quickstep with pro champ Anna Demidova (who also used that pink feather boa). DAG still made his less-than-savory faces, LT’s still got his groove, and Steve-O redeemed himself with his fox trot, which he landed safely on the steps of the stage this time. Chuck donned his red satin pajamas one last time and revealed he had “a new respect for satin, silk, and glitter and thongs.”
Samantha got a bigger role in the co-hosting duties. Though all her stilted Samantha speak (her comment that Chuck looked “like a sparkly crayon”) was a poignant reminder that maybe she should not handle the mike so much. Just sayin’. And though I figured that her awkward, loosey-goosey hip shaking before and after the commercial breaks were just a way to relax and have some fun before the hard speaking parts began, now we know that she was actually shimmying toward something — a role on Broadway, as Roxie Hart in “Chicago!”
Loved that we were able to see Lil’ Kim and Derek’s jumping jive once again. This repeat viewing just confirmed that this was my favorite dance of the entire season and how much the rap star’s spunk and charisma were missed the last couple of weeks. Ty braved the dance floor once more for his Lindy Hop with Chelsie, and then we were on to the final three dances of the season.
The show wanted to make it seem like Shawn, Melissa and Gilles were being judged one last time. And they were. But the fact that they all got perfect 30s for their cha cha, samba and Argentine tango, respectively, negated any chance of the judges’ scores upsetting any sort of voting turnout. They were basically all in the same places they were last night, right? So why was this judging necessary in the first place? Maybe as a reminder of the odd logic of those awful dance-offs at the beginning of the season. Whatever the case, it was fun to see all three couples perform their favorite dances, and I admired Team Shark’s decision to perform a routine that earned them a 28, rather than the perfect-30 routines chosen by Melissa and Gilles. And Tony's decision to embrace Bruno at the end of his and Melissa's samba routine, rather than Melissa. It was bold, and I liked it!
But as we neared the end of the second hour, it was revealed that Melissa and Tony were the third-place finishers. Melissa has made a great run, and her stint on this show has helped to put all that bad "Bachelor" juju behind her (and she didn't have to suffer the indignity of ending up in the runner-up position once again). But poor Tony. He’s come so far, only to fall short once again. He has amassed quite the celebrity fan base, with former partners Marissa Jaret Winokur and Jane Seymour rooting for him to win. (Maybe next year?) Though when they announced the Season 8 champ, both Shawn and Mark clasped their mouths in disbelief, and Mark fell to the floor in shock. Gilles was a gracious runner-up, only saying words of praise for Shawn, Cheryl and this competition. Which makes him a winner in my book.
What do you think, ballroom fans? Did the right star win? Post your comments below, and see you in September!
— Allyssa Lee
Photos: Kelsey McNeal / ABC