Glass Half Full: Offering honest – and respectful – feedback
Glass Half Full
The whole notion of “guilty pleasure” television has been kind of foreign to me. I’m not a reality television fan, generally speaking. I’m more into BBC historical drama and legal suspense. Things like “Foyle’s War,” “Call the Midwife,” and “The Good Wife.” I like ensemble comedies upon which I can depend week after week: traditionally clever programs like “Bob Newhart,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” and “Cheers,” as well as recent productions like “Modern Family” and “Blackish.”
Not surprisingly to those who know me well, I enjoy watching sports, both movies and programs. My newest favorite in that category is “Pitch,” which is telling the story of the first female player on a major league team. While the situation is fictional at this point; it gives me hope for the future. Someday…
Now I have a guilty pleasure: “Dancing with the Stars.” Actually, I’m not entirely sure what makes something “guilty,” rather than just a pleasure. DWTS (that’s what we in the know call it) does not capitalize on malice and spite. It does not celebrate disrespectful treatment or people acting thoughtlessly toward one another. Rather it uncovers inner beauty and outer expression of that beauty, sometimes in the most surprising people.
A couple of years ago, I happened upon DWTS at the beginning of a season, then tuned in again toward the end. “Not bad,” I mused. “I can see real improvement in the remaining contestants.”
A year or so later, I followed the same pattern — only this time the finalists hooked me. Their physicality and grace, their willingness and ability to plunge into something so new and challenging in front of the whole world impressed me.
Not to mention, like many others, I used to love to dance. I can’t say I was particularly good … or particularly bad. I certainly never had any lessons. But we each have our fantasies, and “Dancing with the Stars” seems to have uncovered some of mine.
But it’s more than that. In an era when public humiliation is the norm, when judges on all kinds of contests seem to think it is clever to be brutal, I love the respectfully honest feedback and instruction the DWTS judges provide on a weekly basis.
They recognize the power they hold, and they seldom abuse it. They are often very direct, and it cannot always be easy to hear what they have to say. What I find most significant are the ways in which they inspire contestant after contestant to improve, until even the most lead-footed become dancers, some with remarkable grace.
The participants treat each other with respect and appreciation. While the competition is very real and intensely nerve-wracking, it is very clear that winners and losers are expected to act professionally and graciously. There’s not enough of that going around lately on television.
So, let me revise my confession. “Dancing with the Stars” is not a guilty pleasure. It’s a flat out joyous celebration of and appreciation for something beautiful, professionally delivered.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.