‘DWTS’ Judge Carrie Ann Inaba Reveals Why This Season Is the Most Difficult To Judge

Carrie Ann Inaba says this season of 'Dancing with the Stars' is her favorite of all time.

It was a double elimination night on Dancing with the Stars and when the dust settled, Heidi D’Amelio and Vinny Guadagnino exited the ballroom competition and Charli D’Amelio, Daniel Durant, Gabby Windey, Shangela, Trevor Donovan, and Wayne Brady were moving on to next week’s semifinals.

“I'm happy that the people who made it through made it through, but I'm also a bit sad because we lost some really great people,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told reporters after the show. “I think the loss of Vinny is going to hit hard for a lot of people because even though he wasn't the best dancer, I feel that he represents that kind of joy that our show is known for—and he brought that special flavor. But when you have to compare in the end and it has to be a Judge's Choice, we had to go with the facts and Trevor had better cumulative points, so I chose him. But it was a hard choice.”

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DWTS hasn't had any shocking eliminations this year, just the sad fact that Selma Blair had to drop out early for health reasons, so when the semifinals take place next week, the right dancers will be competing.

“I think that maybe that was why the Judges Choice was put into place, is to avoid those shocking eliminations where somebody who's extremely talented as a dancer doesn't get to see it through,” Carrie Ann said. “And so, for that reason it's good. But as a person talking about it, I'm just going to tell you, it is not fun. I loved it when the audience would make their choice, right? Then we did it together. It felt more collaborative. Yes, we kind of override them now. And so that's sometimes hard and uncomfortable. But we've got to do it because we're judges.”

Longtime viewers of the show may have observed that the judges began giving out scores of 9s and 10s earlier in the season than normal, and that can be attributed to the high caliber of talent this season. But as a judge, it also hasn't made it easy to assign scores each week.

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“I will say that this season is the most difficult season to judge because not only is the caliber of dancers high, but they're all so different,” Carrie Ann explained. “And so, they all stand out for very, very different reasons, and that makes it very hard to compare them. I do believe that Dancing with the Stars is more of a competition with yourself and finding your own perfect 10. I've always judged it that way. Every person who comes on our dance floor has the ability to get a 10. That's why I hold the lift rule because that's what keeps a level playing field. And actually, I haven't had to do that very often this year, so bravo to this season. But it's hard to judge because they are so good and they're all so different.”

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Even so, Carrie Ann admits to loving this season more than any other season because of its inclusivity. In addition to the usual able-bodied celebs, Selma was dancing with multiple sclerosis, Daniel is deaf, and Shangela is the first trans person to make it onto the ballroom floor.

“I think that it's making us talk about things, even as judges, in ways that we aren't accustomed to and haven't done so in the past. And I think that that's really powerful and it makes me really proud.”

Dancing with the Stars streams Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Disney+.

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