Dancing With the Stars’ Peta Murgatroyd Says Season 17 Is a “Popularity Contest” — Exclusive
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Dancing With The Stars

Dancing With the Stars’ Peta Murgatroyd Says Season 17 Is a “Popularity Contest” — Exclusive

Dancing With the Stars made big changes for Season 17, and throughout the past eight weeks, we’ve seen shocking eliminations as a result of them. By shifting the hit competition show from two nights down to one, someone is voted off at the end of the episode based on the previous week’s fan votes and a combined judges’ score, meaning that popularity often triumphs over technical skills.

On the November 4 episode, the third surprising elimination took place, with Pretty Little Liars star Brant Daugherty and his partner Peta Murgatroyd leaving the ballroom. Though they had fans rallying for them and scored 9s across the board that night, it didn’t matter — Bill Engvall’s fanbase triumphed, saving the comedian, in spite of their low scores that night.

When Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with Peta post-elimination, we asked if the show is more about strong fan bases or sympathetic storylines than dancing. She freely admits that “it really comes down to how much the viewers love you,” adding, “It’s more like a popularity contest [of] who has the most fans at home.”

For Peta, a five-time pro, she’d love to see the show go back to its roots. “Without saying too much, I do think it’s becoming less about the dancing and more about who you are,” she explains. “I would love to see the show go back to the raw dancing.”

However, there’s one thing she doesn’t want to alter — guest judges. She thinks Julianne Hough and Cher were “really cool,” liking that “it changes things up” for everyone. “We’ve had the same judges for a long time. It’s nice to have a fresh opinion, especially from a performer who can appreciate what goes into it,” she adds.

With that being said, she is ready for a change — just not necessarily going back to two nights. “I want to see more performers come in and do what Cher did. It was so refreshing to have someone perform for you and for us to be able to sit down and be entertained. It’s kind of what Tuesday nights were like before the format changed.”

What do you think, Dancing With the Stars fans? Should the show change its format to account more for raw dance skills, or should the competition be based more on celebs’ fans? Share your thoughts below, and catch DWTS on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Reporting by Beth Sobol.

Alyse Whitney is Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.