Season 32 of Dancing With the Stars, which was nearly delayed or even canceled due to the writer’s strike, did indeed hit the airwaves Tuesday, and the one person who briefly quit the show because of the strikes, ended up being eliminated first.
At this time last week, the show was strongly considering a postponement or potential cancellation given its employment of one WGA writer and the ongoing strikes that were happening. It even led to picketers on the scene and one of the cast members walking off during a rehearsal, with the threat of others doing the same.
But a deal was reached this past Sunday and DWTS and all of its cast members quickly got back to work. With 14 couples performing over the course of a two-hour and 30-minute episode on Tuesday, sending someone home right away only made sense. So here is a look at the highs and lows of night one and who was sent packing in the end.
The top performer of the night was recent Bachelorette star Charity Lawson, who danced a tango to Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)” with her partner Artem Chigvintsev, which was good enough for 22 points out of a possible 30.
Vanderpump Rules star Ariana Madix — who wore a similar “revenge dress” to the one she wore in a recent Vanderpump reunion special after being at the center of a cheating scandal — was just behind Lawson. She and her partner Pasha Pashkov danced a tango to “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld, which scored 21 points.
Plus, Grammy winner Jason Mraz also scored 21 points with his partner Daniella Karagach, as they danced a cha-cha to Mraz’s own “I Feel Like Dancing.”
Other high scores included 19 for singer Lele Pons and partner Brandon Armstrong for their tango, and 18 points each for actress Xochitl Gomez doing a cha-cha with Val Chmerkovskiy, and former NFL star Adrian Peterson and Britt Stewart who danced a salsa.
Three different couples sat at the bottom of the judges' scores with 12 points each: Influencer Harry Jowsey and his partner Rylee Arnold, who danced a cha-cha to “Rock Your Body” by Justin Timberlake; supermodel Tyson Beckford and partner Jenna Johnson who danced a cha-cha to “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross; and Matt Walsh with Koko Iwasaki, who danced a cha-cha to Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison.”
Just above them with 13 points was actress Alyson Hannigan with Sasha Farber, who danced a salsa to Pink’s “Never Gonna Not Dance Again.”
The bottom two… one
With viewers also casting votes from home, the bottom two ended up coming down to Walsh and Iwasaki, along with reality star and real estate professional Mauricio Umansky, who danced a jive with partner Emma Slater that earned them 15 points from the judges.
In the end it was Walsh and Iwasaki who were eliminated.
Walsh, a comedian, writer, director and actor best known for his role on HBO’s Veep, had announced last week that he walked out of a rehearsal after learning that the show was not protected from the ongoing writers' strike and was going to sit out until it was resolved.
Luckily that resolution came and Walsh was back to work. Meanwhile, some viewers at home didn't think him quitting the show for a spell and being first eliminated was a coincidence, while others just thought he was better than what he was given credit for and deserved a second chance.
It is SO clear they sent Matt Walsh home tonight because of his position with the WGA strike… @officialdwts @ABCNetwork @Disney I love y’all… but do better because this is disgusting.
He was one of the better male performers tonight. #dancingwiththestars #DWTS
— abby (@onthepolaroid) September 27, 2023
— Cathryn Richter (@catrichterr) September 27, 2023
— Jen Samp (@ampersamp) September 27, 2023
Matt Walsh eliminated first after all the crap they put him through #DWTS
— So Mino (@storytellrwendy) September 27, 2023
Matt Walsh was NOT the worst dance of the night and didn’t deserve to go home #DWTS
— Tay-Laur (@taylaur121) September 27, 2023
I don't watch #DWTS but I'm still angry you guys didn't save Matt Walsh.
Hopefully, now that the #WGAStrike has ended, someone (or many someones) are writing something new for this talented gent.#WGAStrong#SagAftraStrong#MattWalsh pic.twitter.com/3jL98R54HX
— micki (@mickisuzette) September 27, 2023
Walsh was gracious in his exit, praising his partner and continuing to make jokes in the process.
“Koko’s the best, I had a wonderful time and it was a wonderful experience," he said. "And I would ask the judges to re-watch that routine sometime."
Dancing With the Stars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.