Carrie Ann Inaba said the 32nd season of “Dancing With the Stars” reminds her of a past – and controversial – season. In a November 2023 interview, the veteran dance judge weighed in on the current competition ahead of the semi-finals, and she admitted one contestant is surviving due to fan votes, not dance skills.
Two weeks after the premature elimination of social media star Lele Pons, the remaining season 32 contestants are Xochitl Gomez, Alyson Hannigan, Charity Lawson, Arana Madix, Jason Mraz, and Harry Jowsey.
Here’s what you need to know:
Carrie Ann Inaba Compared Harry Jowsey to Bobby Bones
Inaba has seen it all as a judge on “Dancing With the Stars.” She has been on the judges’ panel since the celebrity ballroom competition first debuted on ABC in 2005.
In November 2023, she opened up about the show’s 32nd season in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. When asked about Jowsey, who is repeatedly at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard with newcomer pro dancer Rylee Arnold, she admitted that his large TikTok fan base is keeping him in the competition.
“What’s apparent is that Harry has a huge fan base, and they are supporting him,” Inaba said. “This fan base is likely influencing the voting, which isn’t surprising. It reminds me of the season when Bobby Bones danced with Sharna Burgess. Despite low scores on the judges’ leaderboard, he went on to win the season due to strong fan support.”
Many fans were outraged when Bones beat out frontrunner Milo Manheim to win the 27th season of DWTS with pro partner Sharna Burgess in 2018.
Inaba did acknowledge that Jowsey’s dancing improved nine weeks into the competition. She even noted “a glimmer of grace shining through” during his Viennese waltz, despite the fact that he landed with the lowest judges’ score.
Carrie Ann Inaba is Glad There’s No Judges Save This Season
When Bones became the unlikely winner of the mirrorball trophy in 2018, the backlash was fierce. The outrage spawned a new rule to prevent such a thing from happening again. The “Judges’ Save” was implemented in Season 28, one year after Bones’ controversial win. The “save” gave the DWTS judges the power to decide which one of the bottom two dancers would go home.
The judges used the power in seasons 28 through 31, with late head judge Len Goodman as the decision maker in the event a tiebreaker was needed.
But the judges’ save is noticeably missing for season 32, and Inaba appears glad she doesn’t have to face the wrath of Jowsey’s fans – or anyone else.
Inaba told Entertainment Weekly, “I must say that I’m pleased that as of this stage in the competition, there hasn’t been a judges’ save! I prefer not to have the final say in determining who stays or goes.”
“Our job is to judge, but the fourth or sometimes fifth judge has always been the audience,” she continued. “This makes our fantastic DWTS viewers an integral part of the show by giving them a say in the outcome. That is what makes the DWTS family what it is. It’s always been us and the viewers. We do it together.”
In September 2023, an ABC rep told TV Line the judges’ save “could return at some point.”