Welcome to the Dancing With the Stars finale, better known as two hours and 45 minutes of filler with 15 minutes of celebration. It’s an over-the-top ending for an over-the-top show.
Slap on your dress spandex and spray tan and read what happened on Dancing With the Stars:
Best behind-the-scenes moment: Maks bawled his eyes out after last night’s freestyle routine.
Go home voters, you’re drunk: James and Peta “overwhelmingly” won the vote to repeat their freestyle routine on tonight’s show. Only problem is that they were voted off last night. Awkward. Regardless of the snafu, the couple donned their studded halter tops, dance hoodies and guyliner and hit the floor like pros for a repeat performance for the fickle viewing audience.
Walk down memory lane, Part 1: Way back in Latin week, so-called Team Loca was unable to perform its group dance, because team member Amy Purdy had been rushed to the hospital. To help burn up the two remaining hours of prime time, the group — Danica McKellar, Meryl Davis, Candace Cameron Bure and Amy — were invited to finally show the world their routine to Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” because some producer decided that America should not be denied the wonder and the glory of the stars in matching red Spanx.
The problem with live TV: Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX turned up the heat with their track “Fancy,” but ran into technical difficulties when Iggy’s ear monitor went out in the middle of the performance and she had to stop and toss the earpiece on the floor. She performed the rest of the song, but forgot to sing the G-rated version of it, earning a few serious beeps. It was great to see Charli XCX on prime time, though.
Walk down memory lane, Part 2: Just in case you (like me) forgot who took home the Mirror Ball Trophy last season, it was Glee star Amber Riley. She returned to her old stomping ground to promote her new single, perform and, naturally, to help run down the clock.
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke: Drew and Cheryl repeated their fast-paced jive, even though the audience would probably have preferred a rousing round of Plinko instead.
Best reunion: After winning the gold at the Sochi Olympics, ice-dancing partners Meryl and Charlie White were rudely sundered apart by the evil DWTS producers. To prove that they are still a united front, they hit the dance floor together for a quick freestyle routine filled with lifts, drama and eye contact that surely made Maks jealous.
NeNe Leakes redux: When the Real Housewives of Atlanta star shook it to Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman,” it was clear she was having more fun than anyone else in the ballroom right then. Host Tom Bergeron couldn’t help but blurt, “NeNe Leakes, that woman can move her real estate.”
Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy: Making the most of ABC’s cozy relationship with the Disney mother ship, Danica and Maks returned to Disney week for some Beauty and the Beast cosplay, complete with animated dishware to really bring the routine to life and appeal to any 7 year olds up past their bedtime.
Cody Simpson: Remember how purported teen dream Cody Simpson danced to his own song “Surfboard” (NB: not Beyoncé’s “Surfbort“) early in the competition, because that is the extent of his business manager’s imagination? Well, he returned to the ballroom to double down on the royalties and perform the song live.
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: The couple that took an early lead in the competition, before being unfairly felled in the semifinals, returned to the ballroom for another rousing rendition of their high-flying dance to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” It killed about three minutes, one prop umbrella and the rest of my patience.
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: James and Peta opted to repeat their routine to Michael Jackson’s Xscape track, and that’s all there is to say about that.
Biggest mystery: Pint-sized chanteuse Ariana Grande stopped by the show to perform her hit “Problem.” Weirdly though, Iggy Azalea, who was featured on the track, did not join Ariana on stage, even though she was clearly in the building as she just performed her own song. Did she get stuck in Disney detention for swearing?
Time to pass the mirror ball: DWTS Season 17 winner Amber returned to the stage to sing and dance while surrounded by approximately 1 million shirtless men, because if you have to go, you may as well leave with a bang.
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: For their final routine, Amy and Derek were instructed to get in touch with their inner mad scientist and combine an Argentine tango with a cha-cha. They scored 30/30.
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: For their Frankenstein’s monster of a dance, Candace and Mark had to combine a quickstep and a samba. It went O.K. 27/30
Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy: Meryl and Maks had the unholy combination of a Foxtrot with a cha-cha. 30/30
Biggest bombshell: While critiquing Meryl and Maks, Len noted that he might not be back next season. If Len leaves, can Grumpy Cat take his place?
The grand finale: As Christina Perri sang her song “Human,” a montage of great moments from the past season played while the three finalists had to awkwardly stand there.
In third place: Candace and Mark.
And the winners are: Meryl and Maks! While Meryl is the ostensible winner, the victory is Maks’. He has competed on 14 seasons, but always been the bridesmaid and never the bride, until now. While the hard-hearted among us would guess that the promise of a victory was probably how producers were able to lure Maks back to the show this season, all reality-TV logic flies out the window when their names are called. Maks has a look of pure joy on his face, matched only by the one on his brother Val’s. It’s a Chmerkovskiy party and, oh yeah, Meryl is there.
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