We have gotten to the point of the Dancing With the Stars season where the strength of fanbases are much more important than how someone dances from week to week. And that is why Audrina Patridge was sent home Tuesday night in one of the more surprising eliminations ever on DWtS -- voted out despite having the second highest score on Monday, and despite being no worse than the third best dancer in total all season long.
The stage was set for a shocker on Tuesday. Audrina had to dance first on Monday, which is never a help. Her scores were good, but the judges' remarks about her were mostly negative. While Audrina finished only behind Brandy according to the judges, there was a big group right behind her with nearly the same score. And the dancer who finished a distant last, Kurt Warner, was far enough behind that his fans were extra motivated to vote. What's more, Kurt has that amazing DWtS football fanbase to fall back on. Michael Irvin and Lawrence Taylor are the only NFL guys to ever finish as low as seventh on the show, and both had past arrest records, not a history of Christian activism like Warner.
Audrina came onto the show with no public image other than being a blankly pretty presence on The Hills, but proved to be surprisingly good. She was a quick study who made few mistakes, and partner Tony Dovolani seemed pleased to have someone with real potential to tutor, after being saddled with Kate Gosselin this past spring. Audrina finished in the top half of the judges' scoring every week but one, and her waltz received the top score in Week Three. But she began to get increasing criticism for not being able to emote, or really ever doing anything to sell her dance. Perhaps if she had been seen crying on Monday instead of during the results show when it was too late to count, it might have helped her.
Bristol Palin, who has struggled most of the season but did well in her tango on Monday, was declared safe near the top of the hour along with Kurt, which ensured the outcome would be unexpected. Once Audrina was pitted against Jennifer Grey at the end, it was obvious what was going to happen -- Jennifer has had a couple of off weeks in a row, but simply has too many fans at this stage of the competition to be in real danger. And so, Audrina joins a long line of generic bombshells that have been unable to sufficiently connect with the DWtS audience.
The Wilson sisters from Heart provided the night's best musical entertainment with their rendition of "Barracuda," a song which they memorably prevented Bristol's mother from using on the campaign trail. Ann Wilson's lungs haven't lost much to age. Non-rocker Kylie Minogue was also on hand for a number whose male dancer accompaniment provided further proof that she is now officially moving into the gay-campy stage of her career.
Next week: the final six, plus the 200th episode of Dancing With the Stars, complete with some kind of all-star duel.