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August 31, 2015

Mary Murphy's Rules for What Not To Do

by Nick Zaino, posted Oct 1st 2009 9:00AM
So You Think You Can Dance judgesI've said before that So You Think You Can Dance is one of the few reality shows that I actually like, despite the fact that I'm not really one who appreciates dance as an artform. It's a show that I don't think exploits its contestants or talks down to its audience, and that seems to take its subject matter more seriously than, say American Idol or other talent shows. And last night's show was more proof for me.

On American Idol, we often hear that the more insulting advice from the judges is a form of tough love, and in some cases, they have a point. Some people think they can sing and just can't, and need to be told. And there are similar scenes on So You Think You Can Dance, and similarly, some people stomp off convinced that they are "it" instead of, well, something that rhymes.

But So You Think You Can Dance is much more up front and even aggressive about telling people how they can grow. The system is better - if you show promise but the judges aren't sure, you go to the "choreography" phase and you are shown fairly empirically what your faults are, and most contestants seem happy for the knowledge, and many of them do come back.

There was one specific segment on last night's show that stood out for me. And that was "Mary Murphy's Rules for What Not To Do," with help from Adam Shankman. In the segment, Murphy laid down four different things contestants should never do - hats pulled over your eyes, the never-ending reach to nowhere, self-worship by running parts of yourself way too much, and men's booty shaking. Shankman demonstrated each rule as Murphy went through her list.

There was an opportunity there for the judges to just single out people and mock them, but they didn't. A few dancers appeared in a montage with the rules, but they weren't identified and only the offending move was shown. The focus was on Shankman's demonstration, which he did for a group of what appeared to be amused dancers. The show found a way to make the criticism entertaining without really bashing anyone, and it also seemed to be advice the contestants could use. And something they probably hadn't thought of until it was pointed out.

I was entertained, the contestants seemed entertained, and Murphy and Shankman seemed to have fun with it (especially Shankman, who had to be asked to stop touching himself). Can't really ask for more than that.

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Shankman was hilarious doing that. The old guy can still bust a move!

October 01 2009 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Shankman is one of my favorite judges, he can heap praise when he thinks its deserved, crack jokes, make fun of himself, but also give serious critiques as well... so glad he's a big part of this season :D

October 01 2009 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes. . .this is a big reason why I like SYTYCD better than AI as a reality competition (I wish AI was more like it, because of course we actually see the contestants afterwards).
The judges are critical, but they also are much more compassionate.
The host actually cares about the contestants, instead of trying to one up a judge with a joke/remark.
The whole atmosphere is more about fostering talent and growing potential rather than bashing dreams. . .

October 01 2009 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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