I’m not really one for reality shows. I’ve watched Top Chef on and off, loved Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and enjoy historical series like Manor House and Victorian Farm. But the one reality show I unabashedly love, that I crave when it’s not airing, is So You Think You Can Dance. Shooby–we call it that because of how the theme song sounds when played through bad old TV speakers–has been on for seven years now and just keeps getting better.
If you’re not familiar with the show, judges hold open auditions all over the country. These aren’t celebrity judges or panels of amateurs; all the judges are accomplished choreographers or dancers. They see literally thousands of dancers, sending only one or two hundred to an elimination week in Las Vegas. The top ten or twenty go on to the regular show, learning new choreography with a partner every week in addition to preparing solos and joining in a big group dance number. Viewers call in votes, but for at least the first part of the show the judges actually choose who to send home from the bottom three.
All the dancers on this show are good. By the time it gets down to the top six or so every year, everyone left is AMAZING. Big Brother and Survivor just cram regular people into unfamiliar situations to provoke drama. Fear Factor is cheap sensationalism at its lowbrow worst. But Shooby–Shooby is art. SYTYCD takes dancers who are already skilled and makes them more diverse, more trained, more disciplined. Despite its being an elimination show, the dancers are set up for success, not failure. They’re given the best choreographers, partners, and constructive criticism to make sure they’re at the top of their game for the performances every week. It’s a show that adds happiness to the world that otherwise would not be there, and that’s the most you can ask from television. Links to a few favorite clips follow.