He didn’t touch his 10 paddle on Season 18’s Latin Night, but he picked up his 7 paddle at one point, and handed out a few 8s. We were blown away by Charlie White and Sharna Burgess’s Paso Doble, and weren’t surprised when guest judge Ricky Martin gave it a 10. Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba gave it 9s, with Bruno saying Charlie messed it up and lost balance and steadiness, and Carrie Ann saying she needs more sharpness from Charlie if he’s going to get a 10.
Charlie admitted his knee caught in the routine, so fair enough if he didn’t get 100 percent raves. But Len surprised us, since he was curt and a bit rude. He said to get a 10 you had to do something special … and at that point we thought maybe Len was doing his classic warm-up, where he would finish with “and that was something special.” Instead, Len said, to him, this wasn’t special.
That was the end of the critique. No constructive criticism. Nothing. It was harsh. He gave the dance an 8. It was like a slap — a confusing slap, too. Len has blown hot and cold with Charlie all season, giving the Olympian a 10 even though he dropped his cane in his Disney routine, then slamming him with 7s or 8s when other judges went higher. It’s hard to follow the logic.
After the show, Sharna tweeted, “Seriously.,., WTF” and it was pretty clear what she was referencing. She retweeted fan outrage/support, and asked fans for help with votes, since she and Charlie are now close to the bottom of the scoreboard. “He was so amazing tonight and I'm incredibly proud, but now we need you,” she wrote.
Sharna also got support from fellow Season 18 pros. You could see Maksim Chmerkovskiy in the background when the scores were read, and he was clearly shocked and angered by Len’s 8. After the show, Valentin Chmerkovskiy tweted, “YOOOOOO @SharnaBurgess and @CharlieaWhite just did one of maybe top3 best pasos I ever seen done on the show.. #incredible #dwts.”
However, not everyone thought the judges were way off base. Former DWTS pro Chelsie Hightower has been critiquing the season for ABC News and in her Week 7 blog she wrote of Charlie’s Paso, “Overall I thought it was a fantastic performance. But since Charlie is naturally such a good dancer, the judges will be more critical of him. He always dances well, but there are times when he appears to wobble a bit and other times he just looks uncomfortable. If I were his partner, I would simplify the choreography and work on perfecting the subsequent simpler moves. Still, Charlie is performing brilliantly, and I’m looking forward to what he’ll bring next week.”
Where do you stand on this? Were the judges (especially Len) too tough on Charlie or did you agree that Charlie’s Paso wasn’t special or technically strong enough for a 10? Watch Sharna and Charlie react to Len's comments in the AfterBuzz video below.
DWTS Season 18 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.