Bristol Palin lasts another week on Dancing with the Stars!
The former teen mom, who is now 20, has survived in the competition despite consistently receiving the lowest scores from the judges. And now, after Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were eliminated Tuesday night, she’s heading to next week’s finale.
“People vote and their voices count,” Maks said after getting the results. He’s right – Bristol has her fans and they’re actively voting, which judge Carrie Ann Inaba dubbed the "Bristol Palin phenomenon."
“Bristol Palin is somebody that I think most of Middle America and regular people can relate to,” the judge explained to PEOPLE recently. “She’s a regular girl with normal problems and normal issues, and I think a lot of people look at her and see themselves.”
But does she deserve to be in the finale of a dance competition? The show isn’t called Relating to the Stars – it’s about performing the cha cha, the Viennese waltz and the Argentine tango.
Although, she can’t quickstep as well as the flawless star of Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey, Bristol has improved over the course of the competition. In fact, on Monday night she had her best scores of the season. Carrie Ann even gave her a hug after an intense paso doble to Britney Spears‘s “Gimme More.”
So what is Dancing with the Stars all about? Technique? Effort? Improvement? Likeability?
And what consideration do fans give to a contestants’ previous experience? Last season, Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger took the disco ball trophy in a controversial finale. Another season 10 contestant, Niecy Nash, took issue with the results. “I like to see the growth,” Nash said at the time. “Nicole today is who she was when she got here – she was a great dancer and she still is.”
Having never performed before (not as a dancer, a singer, an actor, or a professional athlete), Bristol showed up for season 11 with a little bit of fame and a lot to learn about dancing. She worked alongside celebrities and showed improvement on the parquet, stepping into the ballroom week after week despite her low scores. But did she improve enough?