After potential cast shake-ups, delays, and pushback from the (now ended) Writers’ Guild of America strike, Dancing with the Stars is, against all odds, back on the air. Was all the drama worth it? Fans say no—calling the first elimination unfair, cruel, and even a little suspicious.
Stars this season include singer Jason Mraz, Vanderpump Rules’ Ariana Madix, recent The Bachelorette lead Charity Lawson, and Britney’s infamous sister Jamie Lynn Spears. But heading into the premiere, all eyes were on Veep star Matt Walsh, following his earlier decision to exit the struck show amid the WGA’s ongoing negotiations. After the WGA confirmed a tentative deal, Walsh re-entered the show.
The Emmy-nominated actor was paired with dancer Koko Iwasaki. For their first dance, the duo attempted to dazzle the judges with a cha-cha-cha to “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe. The routine was, without a doubt, a little cheesy: Walsh entered the stage sporting an animal control costume, attempting to “tame” Iwasaki, who slithered around the stage like a snake.
The judges weren’t impressed. Carrie Ann Inaba offered up a back-handed compliment, saying that the dance “reminded me of old school Dancing with the Stars, where we had people who weren’t the best dancers, but they gave us a good time!” Ouch. The couple walked away with one of the worst scores of the night, going 4-4-4.
Walsh and Iwasaki were placed into the bottom two with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Mauricio Umansky and his partner Emma Slater. Ultimately, the ax came down on Walsh and Iwasaki.
Fans were incredibly displeased with this result. For starters: Dancing with the Stars doesn’t usually eliminate a couple on the very first night. The show used to have a first dance, then would allow the handful of folks in the bottom a chance to save themselves in one more round. Now, however, the series is booting stars immediately.
This change up, which happened last season when DWTS arrived on Disney+, infuriated fans. Walsh and Iwasaki could’ve had a bad night! They deserve one more chance.
Stop eliminating on premiere night. Give everyone a chance to improve. Justice for Matt (who I was planning to stan the whole season) #dwts
— Claire :) (@Clairizona) September 27, 2023
— colleen (@floatinoutside) September 27, 2023
— sky💋 (@missxosky) September 27, 2023
Other DWTS fans said that Walsh’s elimination was downright suspicious, considering the fact that he was the most outspoken about the WGA strikes. Did the show choose to eliminate him over that fact? We’ll never know, but audiences are convinced that there was something “fishy” happening behind the scenes of the dance competition.
A little (a lot) sus that the only person to walk out rehearsals to stand in solidarity with the WGA got severely underscored by the judges and then eliminated . (esp. When they don't usually do that ep 1 and there were 2 people who shouldn't have been casted) 👀 #DWTS
— Jess (@WorkInProjess) September 27, 2023
— Allison the disney diva (@Daviesallison1A) September 27, 2023
Mmk anyone else watching #DWTS and feel like Matt was absolutely pushed out? Judges’ comments were completely incongruous with what we saw from his dance and the overall standard for tonight… feels v fishy to me. Like TPTB/Disney is fighting back bc he stepped away to strike 👀 pic.twitter.com/qmOoDIoMky
— Caroline Freeman (@mycluttereddesk) September 27, 2023
— Marie Cervantes (@9woodMac) September 27, 2023
At least Walsh got the one thing he wanted: to be on the show so that his mom could watch.