Dancing with the Stars begins its 19th season Monday with 13 new contestants. Who do we think has the best chance of winning the Mirrorball Trophy?
This actor is probably best known for playing Lindsay Lohan’s love interest in the movie Mean Girls. He has done plenty of television and film work since then, though nothing noticeably dance-related. He will be partnered with So You Think You Can Dance alum (and Dancing with the Stars newbie) Alison Holker. His pet cause is anti-bullying, so he will probably have some good stories to draw from during some of the theme weeks that may tug at viewers’ heartstrings. I suspect Bennett could be on the show for the long haul as long as he shows growth week-to-week.
One half1 of comedy duo Cheech and Chong. I’m not sure how much demographic overlap exists between fans of stoner comedies and DWTS, but maybe we are in for a surprise. Chong is paired with Peta Murgatroyd, who finished fourth last season with partner James Maslow. Chong is definitely filling the Billy Dee Williams/Cloris Leachman slot, which means he will probably survive week one but will need to show he has the skills if he wants to last much longer in the competition.
Couture is a MMA Ultimate Fighter who has also done some action film acting, including the recent Expendables 3. The biggest risk would possibly be accidentally snapping partner Karina Smirnoff in half, but she seems like she should be able to hold her own. This is another area where there may not be huge audience overlap, but depending on Couture’s attitude, he could be filling the Chris Jericho slot. Though if he got into fisticuffs with Len Goodman, that would be worth seeing. I’m guessing middle of the pack.
Quirky fashion designer Betsey Johnson will be partnered with Tony Dovolani. Everything about this is perfect and I will be rooting for her until she gets the boot within the first three weeks. The DWTS audience didn’t respond well to Margaret Cho or Shannen Doherty, which is where I see Johnson’s sphere. I mean, her latest show at Fashion Week featured alumni from RuPaul’s Drag Race, so her DWTS fanbase could best be described as niche.
Summer and Winter Olympian Lolo Jones will be partnered with newbie Keoikantse Motsepe. She won’t be a ringer like last season’s champ Meryl Davis (Lolo’s events are Track and Bobsled), but athletes do have a distinct advantage on this show. Attitude will make all the difference between whether or not Lolo stays or gogoes.2
Mota is a fashion vlogger on YouTube, a phrase that I do not believe existed when Dancing with the Stars first premiered oh so many years ago. She has a huge following on YouTube and will be partnered with Derek Hough, so the deck is stacked in Mota’s favor. Also, as an 18-or-19-year-old, she may have more fearlessness than many of the other competitors. I don’t think she will be an early boot, but she will need to connect with a larger audience who may not share her interests.
Pretty Little Liars is not on my radar, but the show has provided some good dancers already. Janel will be paired with Val Chmerkovskiy. This coupling is the one most likely to generate “are they dating?” rumors, which may give a contestant a slight voting boost in terms of perpetuating story. The network synergy doesn’t hurt either. Expect Janel to stick around for a while.