After three long months, Dancing with the Stars is over, and we've got a winner.

Dancing with the Stars finale: And the winner is…

Our three month celebrity charity journey is over! Sam Brooks power-ranks the finale of Dancing with The Stars.

Can I just say what an honestly strange event the last episode of this kind of reality show is? It’s one hour and 59 minutes of edging, with as much padding and promotion for the network’s upcoming big shows (The Block, Westhouse or Fireside or whatever they’re called) as they can possibly shove in. The scores don’t matter, the judges might as well be spouting unconnected nouns and verbs, and we’re seeing dances we’ve already seen! I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it, but man it’s a weird ending – the only highlight really being the chance to see some judges doing some very good dancing.

Anyway, it’s been good to do these recaps again! See you here in 2020, if the dance studio isn’t underwater or on fire or whatever hellscape we’re going to be in in a year’s time! Climate emergency, you guys!

FOURTH PLACE: William Waiirua (and Amelia McGregor)

Oh, William. You were a wild card of a reality show contestant. I never knew what you were going to do or say, and I could rely on you to be a dancer who was fun to watch rather than a good dancer, necessarily. You brought joy to many! But alas, you’re fourth, this is the last power ranking and there’s other stuff to talk about.

Judge’s score: 29.

THIRD PLACE: Clinton Randell (and Brittany Cole)

This was genuinely shocking! Randell’s the only contestant never to be in the bottom two, and he scored consistently well, and the man is so damn likeable. If I was the kind of person who listened to morning radio, I would enjoy listening to Randell. But, as it is, I am not a fan of morning radio and I will likely never hear Randell’s voice again! These are the days of my life, if not yours.

If anything, it’s a good indicator that someone being in the public eye every day has a pretty good chance of doing well on this competition, especially if they’re inclined to be a good dancer anyway.

Judge’s score: 30.

SECOND PLACE: Laura Daniel (and Shae Mountain)

Look, the kindest thing I can say – and I truly mean this – is that Laura’s first dance made me consider ‘Iris’ not to be a total rooster crow of a song.

To get real, though. There’s a definite satisfaction in seeing Laura get to the finale, like a true completion of an underdog narrative arc. Even though Laura is a star in her own right, there’s something incredibly heartwarming about seeing someone who is clearly a huge fan of the show, and whose charity genuinely seems to mean so much to her, get this far. And not just because she wanted it, but because she’s very good.

Dreams can come true, y’all! And not just the scary ones where you lie in your bed for half an hour after you wake up wondering if that was real or not. I, personally, wish Laura won, but it’s hard to begrudge the actual winner…

Judge’s score: 30, 30.

Sweep a lady across the floor!

WINNER: Manu Vatuvei (and Loryn Reynolds)

It’s been fun getting to know Vatuvei this season; I wasn’t super familiar with his turns as a cast member of Boost Mobile Warriors, and he seems like a fun guy with a laugh that lightens up the world.

And, honestly, there’s something to be said about seeing a league player win this competition – one of the things that Dancing with the Stars does well is put men in a place where the public can see them get emotional, be vulnerable and engage with an art form that is traditionally seen as feminine, and do so without being judged for it. (Except, you know, the part of the show where they judge him.)

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Genuinely, the more we see men, men who the country idolise, do this, the better it is. There’s no doubt that narrative is what helped Manu get to the top of the competition, and that narrative shows that there’s value in silly competitions like this. Reality television can be a pox upon our souls, our houses, and our schedules, but putting a man on our screens a few hours a week and letting him (and not just him, but a range of men) be vulnerable has value. Normalising men having feelings and being vulnerable, as simple as it sounds, has value.

Kudos for the show, and particularly Sharyn Casey, for highlighting this as well. The more we get talking about men having feelings the better. God knows I’ve had enough of them writing these rankings. That’s all from me. See you in 2020!

Judge’s score: 29, 30. Oh also, he won.


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