Dancing With the Starsis back after a long break, and the show faced controversy before it even began when they announced that the new slate of contestants included former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
On Monday night's premiere, the show did what it does best, and danced around the elephant in the room (but also dressed it up in neon green).
"I thought it was finally time to enjoy myself," Spicer explained in his intro package, while recalling his time working for President Donald Trump. Though Spicer wasn't employed by Trump for long, the pair stayed on good enough terms for the president to tweet his congratulations on DWTS. "It's nice to have the leader of the free world on your side," Spicer said.
As for his partner, it was clear Lindsay Arnold had mixed feelings about being paired with Spicer. "I'm looking forward to forming my own opinion," she said after meeting him. "His dance ability is at a pre-pre-school level. He's definitely not a natural at it."
Spicer showed off his (limited) skills in the ballroom to the Spice Girls' "Spice Up Your Life," dressed in a ruffled, highlighter green top. "Best fluorescent shimmy of the night," judge Carrie Ann Inaba offered after his performance. "You were off-beat most of the dance, but you had fun!"
Though Spicer didn't dance until the end of the episode, he made a big impact right at the top of the show, with his ruffled, highlighter green top. He was hard to miss -- which may have been the point. Fans couldn't help but share their commentary on the ensemble on social media.
We live in a simulation and the simulation is glitching. Here’s former White House spokesman Sean Spicer. pic.twitter.com/KYoXxLpXUY— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 17, 2019
The judging inside the ballroom was kept pretty brief. "You brought fun to the ballroom. Well done," Len Goodman said, before host Tom Bergeron promptly sent Spicer and Arnold off. The pair earned 4s from all judges, for a score of 12/30 -- one higher than the score Lamar Odom received.
The decision to cast Spice on the show was met with early backlash, and even faced criticism from Bergeron, who didn't let being currently on the show keep him from expressing his discontent over the decision to hire the political figure.
"A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS' new executive producer, I offered suggestions for season 28. Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return from an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from any party affiliation," Bergeron begins. "I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement."
Referring to Spicer joining the cast, Bergeron adds, "Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go a different direction.'" While the 64-year-old TV personality isn't in support of having a political figure on DWTS, he concedes, "We can all agree to disagree. As we do now, but ultimately it's their call. I'll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions."
Fellow contestant Karamo Brown also faced a bit of backlash for even appearing on the show with Spicer, and ended up temporarily deleting his Twitter account after defending his role on the show and firing back at critics.
"First, I have no say who is on the cast and didn't find out till this morning that he is on!" 38-year-old Brown replied to a tweet from a fan saying they were "disappointed" in him for being on the show. "But I'll tell you this... I'm excited to sit down w/ him and engage in a respectful conversations. Only way things get better is if we try to educate those who have different POV than us."
In another tweet, Brown also wrote that he "can't stand people" who post things "just to flame the fire and get a reaction. We fight harder than your ass ever has for people of color and members of the LGBTQIA community" after someone else called him out.
As for Spicer himself, he said that everyone on the show has been "fun" and "supportive of each other" and that his involvement "is an opportunity to show America how people of different backgrounds can have fun and be supportive of each other and have civil engagement. And, you know, get well beyond politics and for a couple hours every week show America that people from different backgrounds can enjoy each other’s company, can root for each other, can be civil with each other and put politics aside."
Check out the video below to hear more.
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.