You can’t argue with the ratings pulled down by entertainment reality competition shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance. It’s a golden cash cow for networks and sponsors. But does American really need another?
Live to Dance is the latest entry in the crowded reality dance competition space. Paula Abdul is the head judge and mentor to contestants. Other judges include a Pussycat Doll and a choreographer for the late Michael Jackson. Clearly these guys know what they’re talking about.
So the premise of Live to Dance is what you would expect. The acts try out, they’re judged and viewers at home vote them through to the next round. Winner takes home $500,000. And pretty much anyone can enter as there is no age limit or other restriction.
Unlike American Idol and others, there is something missing from Live to Dance. Even with Paula Abdul, the show comes off as staged and lacking personality. Paula personally coaches each act, but when TV edits are done, we don’t see much of that interaction. Same with the actual performances. The acts seem to be put pushed on and off the stage quickly and the audience has little time to connect with any of them.
Ratings for Live to Dance were somewhat impressive during it’s debut week, but have been on a steady and rapid decline ever since. Viewers are looking for more. No question that Live to Dance delivers quality entertainment – sans the 6-year-old breakers and 90-year-old tapper – much in a similar fashion as America’s Got Talent. What’s missing is the compelling story line.
American doesn’t want just another dance show. If viewers are going to become invested, they want to get to know the contestants and where they come from. Back stories and personality are going to sell way more than masterful dance technique. Like it or not, these shows often turn into a popularity contest.
Look at last year’s winners of American Idol and America’s Got Talent. Neither Lee nor Michael were polished, flashy entertainers with a big personality. They were regular folks struggling through life’s challenges but with an amazing gift. Once you got to know them, at least as well as television viewers can, you wanted to root for them and just wish them the very best in life.
That’s what Live to Dance is missing. It lacks heart and soul. Live to Dance leaves viewers feeling empty.