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California girls get all the love on ‘SYTYCD’

“So You Think You Can Dance” is back, and, as is the wont of every reality competition, it’s time to see dancers who don’t suck along with a smattering of people who really, really do so we can all feel superior and self-satisfied. The good news is that the show is going to Los Angeles and Chicago, and as every waitress in L.A. is taking acting/dancing/guitar lessons instead of learning ho
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“So You Think You Can Dance” is back, and, as is the wont of every reality competition, it’s time to see dancers who don’t suck along with a smattering of people who really, really do so we can all feel superior and self-satisfied.

The good news is that the show is going to Los Angeles and Chicago, and as every waitress in L.A. is taking acting/dancing/guitar lessons instead of learning how to bring you the sugar when you ask for it, there’s always plenty of talent. And, because L.A. is full of lunatics, there’s usually some good comic relief, too. So let’s dive in!

First up is Lauren Froderman from Phoenix. What the hell are they teaching cheerleaders these days? Lauren promises her routine will be kid-friendly, but when she starts writhing on the floor to “Let’s Get It On,” well, let’s just say parents might have to explain a few things to Junior afterwards. But the judges love her, because despite it all, she still somehow seems wholesome, which suggests she’s been able to get away with murder throughout high school, but anyway, she’s going to Vegas. Where she can get into a whole lot of trouble if this dancing thing doesn’t work out, so it’s a win-win.

Then there’s a guy called Hung Van Lam. Hung is odd. Hung gropes Cat, which is actually kind of funny. It’s less funny when he gropes himself. However, he assures us he doesn’t sweat, but has passionate “man juices.” I am liking Hung less by the minute. He’s very enthusiastic, but he may be drunk. Hung has really short legs, gold pants and no talent. The judges encourage him right out of the room. It seems like judges for reality competitions are being much more delicate with the crazies lately. Probably because it’s so easy to get a gun license these days.

Rachel Girma is a rhythmic gymnast who was supposed to go to the Olympics until she broke a bunch of bones. So, she’s only been dancing for two weeks, but really, she’s a friggin’ Olympic-level rhythmic gymnast, which is just plain old dancing on a bouncy mat with a ribbon, if you ask me. No surprise, she blows the judges away. Guess who’s going to Vegas?

So, at this point, we learn the women are great in L.A. And Adam is all about the California girls. I guess that Miley Cyrus lap dance may made him switch teams or something, because his fondness for women is making Nigel uncomfortable. Maybe “SYTYCD” needs a don’t ask don’t tell policy.

Next up, Cristina Santana and her partner Pepe. Cristina has been here before. In fact, she broke Billy Bell’s nose in Vegas, which was apparently so traumatic she blew it and got sent home. But Cristina is going to Vegas, again, and Pepe goes to choreography. I’m not sure how I feel about dancers who make it halfway to Hollywood getting repeated chances to screw up. But who knows, Cristina may not elbow anyone in the face this time and all will end well, you never know.

Taylor Costello is from Arizona. She’s adopted. She has some issues about it. She cries a lot. Her birth mom was murdered, but she loved dance, not that Taylor ever met her, but that’s what the lady wrote on a piece of paper. So Taylor loves dance, even though she never met the woman who has the strange power to make her burst into tears at every odd moment from beyond the grave. Taylor dances like she’s having a fit, but well enough that the judges send her to choreography. Taylor doesn’t need Vegas, though, she needs therapy.

Also, Lexie is going to Vegas. I would tell you more about Lexie, but my connection died and I missed it. But I think Lexie is another one of those people who made it to Vegas in a previous season and are now back for more punishment.

Before choreography, Pepe drops out. Quitter.

We don’t see much of choreography beyond the results. Taylor blows it, which is no surprise. It’s hard to pay attention to choreography when you’re freaking out and bursting into tears. But thirteen dancers from day one are going to Vegas.

Day two looks only moderately promising. Melinda Sullivan is 22, a tap dancer and from Thousand Oaks, Calif. She’s learning acting and she met Gregory Hines when she was 15, so she’s feeling confident. Or maybe just acting confident, who knows. I think her routine is kind of obnoxious, because who taps to a sad Stevie Wonder song, but Adam thinks she’s pretty. Hi Hat thinks she’s different. Hi Hat thinks everyone is different. Nigel thinks she was rude to Stevie Wonder, which I agree with completely. For insulting Stevie, she has to go to choreography purgatory, which seems apt.

Maybe you’ve noticed that most of this is a review of female dancers. I was thinking that was kind of weird, but then we’re informed that, apparently, the boys suck.

The last dancer of the day is Ryan, which is actually a girl, so any hopes that “SYTYCD” would change it’s tune about California boys just falls flat. Ryan Ramirez has a sob story. Her parents lost their house and almost pulled Ryan out of dance classes because they were so broke. But luckily Mia Michaels hired her as an assistant. Based on that, you can bet Ryan is going to blow us away. But surprise, surprise, the judges think she doesn’t connect well with them and send her to choreography. Psych!

Choreography is quick and painless. Melinda is going to Vegas.

Ryan is going to Vegas.

Some guy with an early-onset receding hairline is going to Vegas.

So, the show found lots of girls in L.A., but not so many guys. This is typical L.A. Insert the single girl “all the guys in L.A. suck” joke of your choice here.

Finally, we move on to Chicago, where we can only hope there are some, I don’t know, guys who don’t suck. The guest choreographer is Stacey Tookey, who seems chatty and smiley and has a cute military jacket. Hopefully she’ll have more to contribute than Hi Hat.

Our first dancer is Kent Boyd from Wapakoneta, Ohio. The local gas station posts a sign wishing him luck on the show, just so we realize that Wapakoneta is so small it makes Podunk, Nowhere, look like the big city. Kent reveals he’s ready to go to college in NYC. Um, right. Kent seems either a lot naïve or a little slow. But he’s a good dancer. Because there’s nothing else to do in Wapakoneta, I’m sure. Still, the judges all agree he dances with all the personality of a corn husk, as the sum of his life experience is adventures in tractor pulling. He’s a yes to choreography.

Andrew Phillips from Indianapolis is tonight’s big tearjerker. Andrew has a fraternal twin, Kyle, who was born with spina bifida, and he dances for him. The judges get all sniffly and maudlin. Nigel tells Andrew he needs to dance every day for Kyle. Adam warns Andrew that he’s still growing, but he is inspired by him. Stacey says there’s some technical problems, but she likes his fire. Nigel tells him he’s going through to choreography, but isn’t sure he’ll make it through to Vegas this year. Andrew seems like a good kid, but yes, he’s still in that gawky puppy phase, which should pass in a year or two.

Malinda Jacobsen is here to show off her creepy dance invention, Hick-Hop. Melinda has terrible hair, but she’s very proud of it. Malinda is also very proud of her spastic line dancing. She also seems completely unfazed by the beer gut hanging over her Spandex pants. Malinda is delusional and, I predict, will one day live in a trailer with a frightening number of cats. The judges are weirdly nice about telling her she’s insane, and she leaves in high spirits, determined to beat her nerves. Yeah, that was the problem.

The last contestant of the day is Adrien Lee from San Diego. This could go either way, given what a botch Chicago has been so far. But Stacey says he’s the best contemporary dancer she’d seen that day. Adam says he’s supposed to dance. Nigel warns him to watch his hands. They send him to Vegas after torturing him with the threat of choreography for a while, which is always so transparent but the poor little dancers on the stage always look like they’re about to pass out when it happens.

Anyway, we skate right through choreography yet again. Shockingly, Kent is going to Vegas. I suspect he will have a heart attack the minute he sees the Strip.

Andrew is, too.

So are three other dancers. Whoa, that’s not a lot.

Day two in Chicago, we kick things off with a whole hella lotta crazy. Kellen Borchers seems to have something wrong with him, possibly the same thing that’s wrong with Malinda. I’m thinking high functioning autism. He really wants the respect of the judges for the hideous dance moves he perfected in front of his bathroom mirror. Shockingly, he’s not getting it. The judges give him a pat on the head and tell him to enjoy his accounting career. Kellen takes it well, because he just loves him the dancing.

Christopher Gilbert does an Urkel meets James Brown boogie and proves he’s disturbingly double jointed. Adam loves it. Stacey thinks he’s unique, which sounds like she’s channeling Hi Hat. Nigel is sending him to choreography. I don’t have high hopes for Urkel, as I don’t exactly see him translating to, say, ballroom anytime soon.

Then, a bunch of people are sent to choreography.

Jarrod Mayo is cute and smiley and has a cute and smiley mom cheering for him in the audience. Nigel loves his extensions. Stacey thinks he’s a sweet little thing. Adam thinks he’s adorable and talented. I think the judges are one step away from tying a bow around his neck and dressing him in a giant onesie. Nigel asks the poor kid if his mom is cute, then drags the woman on stage to bask in the double dose of cuteness. Jarrod is going to Vegas, which seems only fair after turning him into a living teddy bear.

The last Chicago dancer is Jarrell Robinson. He’s deaf. He was born hearing, but says “it just disappeared.” Uh, no. Hearing doesn’t just disappear, but I’m guessing that’s what you have to tell your kid when you don’t have health insurance. One of his front teeth has also disappeared, and I’m a little worried that Jarrell is going to start disappearing in bits and pieces unless someone gets him some decent health and dental care. Not surprisingly, Jarrell is a good dancer with an innate talent, but clearly untrained. Stacey says he’s extremely musical for someone who can’t hear the music, but his dance vocabulary isn’t up to snuff. Adam is inspired. Nigel says the competition isn’t right for Jarrell, but thinks he could be successful in something else. Wow, that’s helpful. How about getting the guy an appointment with an eye, ears, nose and throat doc or maybe a dentist?

Choreography time. Christopher isn’t going to Vegas.

But four women are. That’s it? They could have picked up as many contestants on a street corner in New York than they found in two days in Chicago.

Boy, was Chicago a waste of time or what? Sorry, Chi-town, but I think your biggest contribution was in the crazy category. And where are the boys in Los Angeles? Maybe it’s a good thing that “SYTYCD” is only sending 10 dancers to the finals this year, because so far the field is looking not only lopsided but weak. But fingers crossed it gets better, as tomorrow the show heads to Dallas and Nashville. Which could be great, as long as there’s no more Hick-Hop.