Despite the backlash, Spicer is doing just fine. Although he has consistently received some of the worst scores from the judges (he got the lowest score of any contestant on Monday’s episode) and lots of mockery on social media for his gaudy outfits, there’s no sign of him being eliminated anytime soon. Each week, the technical scores and viewer votes are combined, and the bottom two couples are placed in jeopardy — then the judges choose which pair is “saved.”
So far, Spicer hasn’t yet been in the bottom two, as singer Mary Wilson and NBA star Lamar Odom have been voted out and NFL star Ray Lewis withdrew due to injury. (No one went home Monday night, which was Disney-themed; producers didn’t want to ruin the mood after so much fun-filled corporate synergy.) The conservative fan base is known to rally around this show (see: Bristol Palin in Season 11) and Spicer is clearly getting a lot of audience votes, with the help of some high-profile endorsements:
Not to mention:
While the judges get the final say in who goes home — a new twist this season, likely to prevent a beloved-yet-mediocre dancer from winning — they seem to be warming up to Spicer after an initially cool reception.
The first week, Arnold described his dance skills as “pre-preschool level,” and the judges looked deeply concerned by his attempt to salsa to the Spice Girls hit “Spice Up Your Life.” Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, the kinder judges, called it “strangely entertaining.” Len Goodman, the harshest, simply said, “I admire your courage coming on this show” — a sign he found the dance so terrible that he couldn’t muster the energy for a critique. Spicer scored 12 out of 30 points, the second-lowest of anyone except Odom, who scored 11.
Afterward, Spicer implied he was being unfairly maligned because of religion: “Clearly those judges aren’t going to be with me. Let’s send a message to #Hollywood that those of us who stand for #Christ won’t be discounted,” he tweeted. Perhaps realizing this wasn’t the best way to endear himself to the judges, he later deleted the tweet. Instead, he doubled down on the idea of turning the competition into a campaign, urging people to vote for “Spicer/Arnold,” complete with weekly emails to his supporters.
In Week 2, after a tango, the judges were slightly more encouraging. “I have to admit, it looked like a tango,” Tonioli said, sounding surprised, and Inaba added he was “super much improved.” Goodman deemed it “better than last week.” In Week 3, things didn’t go as well: Goodman cracked that Spicer’s cha-cha to “Saturday Night Fever” was “more like Monday night lukewarm,” and Tonioli said it was so bad (“a disaster blockbuster”) that it was almost good. Inaba chose the “A for effort” angle.
“You’re living your best life right now. And you’re having such a great time,” she said. “You have smiled from the moment you started until you finish, no matter what happened in between. I’d like to see you loosen up a little ... because I don’t know, people seem to love you. So you might be here for a while.”
Week 4 brought relatively mild reviews yet with his paso doble — even though Spicer got the second-lowest scores again, and although the judges thought it wasn’t great, they gave actual technical criticism. Even guest judge Leah Remini got in on the act, saying while Spicer was clearly not a dancer, “You come out here, you’re committed, and you try your best.”
On Monday night, Week 5, Spicer received the most positive feedback yet, as he and Arnold performed a quickstep to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” while dressed as Woody the cowboy from “Toy Story.” Spicer choked up during his introductory video as he dedicated the dance to his father, who died of cancer in 2016.
The judges were pleased with the performance, especially Goodman, who complimented his frame as “pretty good.”
“Don’t get overexcited, because there’s still a ways to go,” he cautioned. “However, it was a proper dance. Well done.”
Tonioli echoed similar praise, and Inaba added it was his best dance yet. “You did a really good job. I’m very proud of you,” she said. “I know this hasn’t been easy.” She awarded him a seven (his first of the season), while Goodman and Tonioli gave him sixes — for a total of 19, the lowest-ranked of the nine remaining dancers.