Looking for ways to boost the numbers in its 18th season, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” has featured a bunch of guest judges — from Robin Roberts to Ricky Martin — to help Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli critique the celebrity dancers. Something’s going right, because “DWTS” is actually up a bit in ratings from last year, averaging around 14 million viewers per episode.
However, about 12.7 million people tuned in Monday; while still the most-watched program of the night, that’s a season low number. As it happens, famously cruel “Dance Moms” star Abby Lee Miller was a guest judge. Coincidence? It’s possible — after all, “24” came back on the same night. But we’re going to take it as a sign of danger and tell ABC and “DWTS” now: Avoid guest judges like Miller (known for being really mean) at all costs.
For those unfamiliar with her, Miller has become a huge star over the past few years thanks to her Lifetime reality show “Dance Moms,” which chronicles Miller and her Pittsburgh-based dance studio. Miller is honest to a fault, and never hesitates to unleash harsh criticism on her young dancers, and is often accused of bullying. There’s a raging debate whether her tough love method works — her students and studio are extremely successful — or whether she causes emotional distress to kids through her methods.
Given that Lifetime is a sister cable channel of ABC, Miller might seem like the perfect choice for “Dancing With the Stars.” Plus, think of all the things she might say! Controversy equals ratings, right?
Except, apparently not. For all the talk of Miller’s harsh reputation (“I’m just so happy there’s somebody else that is mean!” she exclaimed when Goodman criticized a dancer before she got the chance), her appearance didn’t add up to much. There was one brief dust-up with notorious wildcard pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Miller offered a harsh critique of his partner Meryl Davis; Maks fired off a “I really don’t care for anything she has to say”; Miller takes to the tabloids today to call him “disrespectful.”
But other than that, she didn’t add much other than make a lot of “DWTS” fans mad about the choice.
— Claudia (@cjwcjam) May 6, 2014
ABC must be getting desperate for ratings-or guest judges! Abby Lee Miller is so annoying. Please send her packing!!!!
— Mia Said (@inkwiringmindz) May 6, 2014
Abby lee miller? Seriously? Is Dancing getting desperate for ratings they’re willing to annoy people into watching?
— robin mazzerina (@metfan4ever) May 6, 2014
— Linz (@LinzeyReed) April 22, 2014
DWTS Facebook post on Abby Lee Miller as guest judge has 2300 comments and scrolling through I have yet to find someone happy about her.
— Pure DWTS (@puredwts) May 5, 2014
So, we hope “DWTS” takes note: While it’s tempting to add controversy, if the “American Idol”-Mariah Carey-Nicki Minaj disaster taught us anything, reality competition viewers don’t like it as much as you might think.