The "Dancing With the Stars" Season 24 Quarterfinals had a mean-spirited edge to it that pretty much everyone felt. The fans left upset. The stars left upset. Almost everyone was mad about something, except maybe Team ValMani, since Normani Kordei and Val Chmerkovskiy were the only ones to be spared by the knife-wielding judges.
The other four couples were hit fairly hard, especially Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess -- who left at the end of their tough night, which included a snide remark from head judge Len Goodman -- and Simone Biles & Sasha Farber -- who were given maddening mixed messages on her smile, personality, and life experience. Simone later admitted she left the ballroom with tears in her eyes.
BONNER & SHARNA
After Bonner's first dance, Len made a passive-aggressive comment that it's America's fault that Bonner was still around when he was in over his head and should've been gone by now. Even judge Carrie Ann Inaba looked shocked after that jab...
CAI's reaction after what Len said to Bonner on his first performance though... pic.twitter.com/x3Mf4Y0zHi
— TeamHemoAndMani (@HemoAndMani) May 9, 2017
...and Bonner and Sharna were not pleased with the remark either.
"I was really taken back that Len said that," Sharna Burgess told ET Canada. "I would think that Len understands that after 24 season on 'Dancing With the Stars,' it's not always just dance, it's that person and their story and their inspiration. Why is it a bad thing that he's been inspiring people for eight weeks?" Bolton added, "It's a good thing I didn't come do this show for those judges."
Bonner told Glamour it was "a relief" to know he wouldn't have to dance again, since he was in a lot of pain through the whole competition. Here's what he said when asked about Len's comment: "I don't appreciate much of what the judges said throughout the whole season to me. I don't have a lot of respect for it, but I'm thankful for the experience I got to have here, the other people I got to meet, how much I discovered I can move again and inspire others throughout my movement, and the strength that I dug down deep to find and do this."
SIMONE & SASHAThe judges didn't really seem to have much constructive dance criticism for Simone after her Foxtrot, they called it "pretty" and thought it was fine, but they called her out on not showing enough personality. Both Julianne Hough and Carrie Ann wanted to see more emotional range and expression from Simone, beyond her ever-present smile (which they seemed to see as fake). Simone tried to explain backstage that she hasn't had that much life experience since she's spent her life in a gymnasium. She's not an actress, so it's hard for her to show what she hasn't felt.
Later, after her trio Paso Doble, she kept a serious expression on her face through the judging, and host Tom Bergeron said he had expected her to smile at some of the compliments. Simone then smiled and quipped, "Smiling doesn't win you gold medals."
— Leyla (@DarthSpongie) May 9, 2017
The live audience oooohed, as if she shot back something controversial, but one minute they basically say her smile is an empty mask and the next second she's expected to keep up that smile?
After the show, Simone told Entertainment Tonight, "You don't know which wild card of sexy or of happy they want to bring, and you almost have to read their minds and find it. [...] I had tears in my eyes. I almost ran to the bathroom at one point, but I pulled it together. [...] I feel like everyone has their own opinion, clearly, and I feel it's just how you take it. I feel like I am trying [to show emotion], I am being honest, but if they don't see that, I don't know what more I can do."
Simone added to other backstage reporters (via Glamour), "I feel like any other 20-year-old has gone through a lot of the emotions [the judges want to see], but I've spent my whole life in a gym training for something I've dreamed of since I was a little girl. I think they think since I'm 20, I should have gone through those life experiences, but I missed out on all of that. That's why I'm taking a year off to try and go find it, you know? Then I'll get back to training."
Pro Sasha Farber told Glamour the judges "are there to do their job. They were hard on everyone today. Standing there and getting those scores, I know exactly how Simone is; she's only 20, and to hear all those things, I could feel her heart just hurting. I'm kind of sorry she had to go through that. I'm right here for [her], and next week is all different." Sasha's fiancee, pro Emma Slater -- who is dancing with Rashad Jennings -- told Glamour backstage, "I would hate to think that Simone took anything to heart in a negative way. It kind of felt like she did."
Next week is the Semifinals, and we can only hope the judges will be in a kinder mood, so the stars who don't win at least have a positive journey along the way.
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