I may not be a cock-eyed optimist. But something about So You Think You Can Dance makes me feel a little better about the world. Who doesn’t love a show full of fun dance numbers? It’s part talent show, part eye candy, and part artistic expression. It’s a reality show that isn’t about celebrity or idiocy but rather about talent and athleticism and stamina and creativity. Not to mention, it’s a big fat multicultural lovefest where art forms from a wide variety of cultural and economic backgrounds get to play. I love it.

I was so excited for the season to really start, because I am not a fan of the audition weeks’ Parade of Asperger Disorders. I was ready to see some choreography. Bring on the Tice, the Mia, and the Wade! I’m a little behind on my tivo, so last night I finally watched the first show on their new, fancy set.

Okay.

I admit, I am a seriously sleep-deprived woman, and prone to a bit of the curmudgeondry as of late. True, I’m a tad short-fused these days, and I might have yelled back at the tv yesterday while a certain Christian celebrity was schilling his “Jesus Makes You Rich” gospel. But that new set on SYTYCD? IS SENDING ME THROUGH THE ROOF. To the point where, fifteen minutes in, I was already badgering my husband with, “Do you see this set? Are you SEEING this? What is with this, Mark? Whaaaat?”

So that set. The new shape is annoying. The weird florescent elephant-tusks on the sides are distracting. But what is with the jumbotron behind the dancers? It was playing scenes of glittery graphics or mutating colors throughout every dance number. Because, why? We can’t possibly be expected to watch just dancing? Has our collective ADD gotten so bad that we have to watch something on a tv set behind what we are watching on the tv set?

As I tried to analyze why this jazzed-up set was so under my skin, it dawned on me that so many of us are trying to actually reduce our screen time . . . to spend less time in front of the computer screen or tv set. Granted, this is still a tv show, but there was always something about it that seemed a little elevated about it. Just two beautiful dancers, on a minimalist stage, expressing joy and beauty and frustration with their bodies.

AND NOW IN FRONT OF A GAZILLION-WATT SCREEN PLAYING A GIANT SCREEN-SAVER GRAPHIC. Just in case you were getting bored.
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Is this what we’ve come to? We can’t even watch tv without watching tv? Because I’m a girl who, to quote a little Corkie, could be happy with just a dance belt and a tube of chapstick. The rest is just visual noise.
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And don’t get me started on the Paula Abdul stuff. Because does this show really need another shrill, nonsensical judge with too much botox and an addiction to prescription pain meds? That’s what Mary is for.