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Dancing With The Stars

Has There Ever Been a More Even Playing Field on DWTS?

Everyone keeps calling Dancing With the Stars Season 12 “wide open” and “anybody’s game” with “no frontrunner.” It seems like they say something to that effect every season, but this may be the first time it’s actually true.

Not only is it hard to tell who is winning the season so far, we can’t even tell which star is the most likely to leave next. Usually we have pretty clear ideas for both by Week 7.

No matter how many times Nicole Scherzinger said she didn’t have ballroom experience, it was obvious from Season 10 Week 1 that she was miles ahead of everyone else — to the extent that some fans angrily labeled her “a ringer” and too good for a show about newbies. It was also pretty clear Evan Lysacek and Erin Andrews would join her in the finals. It was just a matter of waiting for Pamela Anderson, Niecy Nash, and Chad Ochocinco to get out of the way.

Last season, we all knew Jennifer Grey would make the finals. On Season 9, Mya was a lock for the end from the beginning, and even though Donny Osmond was something of a surprise win, his showmanship skills and work ethic also made him a natural for the finals. On Season 8, Shawn Johnson, Gilles Marini, and Melissa Rycroft were miles ahead of the rest of the pack, which included Ty Murray (the adorable rodeo guy who couldn't dance too well), Lil' Kim, and Chuck Wicks.

Usually one or two couples are dominating the pack while everyone else tries to keep up. On Season 12, they all trade places on the top and bottom of the judges’ leaderboard.

Ralph Macchio started the season on top and, thanks to Karina Smirnoff's fall, he was second from the bottom this week. Hines Ward and Chelsea Kane also go back and forth on top of the judges' leader board, withKirstie Alley bouncing up and down in scores but always the watercooler talk of the week.

In terms of fan bases, we know Kendra Wilkinson has her million-plus Twitter followers, but the fans seem to be cheering for everyone pretty equally. Everyone loves sweet Ralph, but everyone also loves cool Hines. Kirstie has the showmanship factor, plus sex appeal in uber-popular partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Chelsea and Romeo Miller came into the show with the youth vote and their talents are winning over all ages. Our Facebook fans seem to be all over the map with their votes so it’s hard to even guess who is most or least popular.

If you asked us last week, we would've said Kendra, Romeo, and Chris Jericho were the logical next three to go — in that order. But then on Guilty Pleasures Week, Kendra rose to third from the bottom, Romeo got the very first 10 of the season, and Chris ended up doing one bad routine that sunk him. On this season more than any other, one bad routine can take you out.

We don't even have a Bristol Palin to curse for staying longer than her scores merit. We thought maybe we had that in Kendra, but she is nowhere near as bad as Bristol — or Kate Gosselin before her — and is slowly improving from week to week. Plus, she had a mini-meltdown but she apologized and she’s trying to move on. On top of that, she has a strong fan base that was already with her when she joined the show — not tabloid vultures or vote-for-the-worst types waiting for her to fail (à la Kate and Bristol), but people who love her from her shows The Girls Next Door and Kendra.

Kendra is still the most "controversial" member of the Season 12 cast, but even that's a stretch. No one else has had a dramatic meltdown or fight yet; although, now that we’re entering double dance time, the emotions should bring out some interesting drama.

We have always had Hines, Chelsea, Ralph, and Kirstie in mind as our final four, but with Romeo making a late surge and Kendra’s huge fan base keeping her around, it’s impossible to tell what will happen next. For all we know, Hines could slip up and go home. Kendra could get a 10. Kirstie could bore everyone. It’s all possible. Everything depends on the dances themselves, which is really how it was always supposed to be.


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