The ballroom’s burning up! Dancing With the Stars‘ season 22 premiere on Monday, March 21, kicked off with lots of swinging hips, chiseled abs and one set of leaky breasts (more on that later). There were a few notable changes this time around, including Len Goodman‘s return to the judges table and the fact that, for the first time in over two years, there are no teenagers in the mix.
The first night on the dance floor usually sets the tone for the season ahead, establishing a loose pecking order of contestants. With season 22 not boasting any insanely energetic youngsters or celebs with heavy doses of dance training (though Mischa Barton claimed she fit the latter category), it was really anyone’s guess who would land on top and who would fall flat. Here’s how it went down.
No one seemed to expect much from the, um, not-petite Wayna Morris, who rose to fame in the 1990s as one of the original members of the R&B group Boyz II Men. Expectations weren’t raised when he revealed during his video package that seeing Joey Fatone compete on the show inspired him to try it. “I was like, ‘If this fat white boy can do it …'” the singer recalled before trailing off with a laugh. He sort of said he was kidding but not really.
Paired with Lindsay Arnold, however, Morris delivered an awesome cha-cha that clearly surprised the judges. Bruno Tonioli praised the “precision” of Morris’ timing, while the notably difficult-to-please Goodman predicted the crooner “could make it to the end of the road.” For their unexpected performance, they earned an impressive 23 points.
Also nabbing 23 points were Good Morning America‘s chief meteorologist and new mom Ginger Zee and her partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy. “I apologize in advance if I leak on you because I’m breastfeeding, so milk is going to be everywhere,” Zee joked to Chmerkovskiy, who looked absolutely terrified.
The GMA host explained that she hoped dancing would help her get her “mojo” back, but the second she began their jive, it was clear she’d never lost it. Carrie Ann Inaba compared Zee to Mirrorball winner Bindi Irwin, describing Zee’s energy as “infectious.” Len praised the dance for being “frisky, risky, fast and furious”; still, he told her to work on straightening her legs.
Just … Damn
Rounding out the trio of pairs who tied for first were Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd — but while their scores were all the same, it was this couple who clearly stood out. DiMarco was the winner of America’s Next Top Model cycle 22 and has the chiseled abs to back up that title. He’s also completely deaf. That’s right — he can’t hear a thing, not even with a hearing aid.
While having to speak to her partner through an interpreter must have had its challenges, Peta didn’t seem the least bit freaked. Instead, she and DiMarco delivered a sizzling cha-cha that had Carrie Ann literally gasping for air. Bruno definitely said it best, however, when he got up and went over to touch DiMarco to “make sure he was real.”
Not everyone had a great night, though. 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie performed a foxtrot with Karina Smirnoff that only earned 15 points. “The good news is, you did it,” Carrie Ann managed. (Umm, if that’s the “good news,” things are really, really bad.) Len echoed Carrie Ann, adding, “You came out, and you really tried to sell it.” The only problem was, no one was buying it.
Coming in dead last with a 13 were Geraldo Rivera and Edyta Sliwinska, whose cha-cha left the judges wanting more. The colorful broadcaster continued his “70 is the new 50” shtick in between comments alluding to how hot his partner was (which she mainly ignored). This time it was Bruno who went in for the kill. “Very cunning strategy,” he began. “Maybe you could dance next week, yeah?” Rivera pretty much laughed that off and (sort of) agreed.
The Really Bad
While their 16 placed them above Flutie and Rivera, Mischa Barton and Artem Chigvintsev were possibly the biggest disappointment of the night. Though the former OC star boasted that she’d “actually danced a lot” in her life, her pro quickly put that claim to bed. “I’m sorry, but Mischa is not a natural dancer,” Chigvintsev groaned. After their uninspired tango, Len didn’t hold back. “That wasn’t a dance,” he said. “That was walking!” Bruno delivered the same message more softly, suggesting she add “more spunk.”
Listening to the critique, Barton looked a little deflated but not really surprised. Erin Andrews — who was recently in the news for her $55 million court win — did her best to cheer up the actress by fangirling all over her, but it didn’t seem to help much. “It’s really tough,” Barton began. “He’s a tough teacher, which is a good thing, but it’s been a road.” (It’s been a road? It’s only the first week!) This is not looking good.
The rest of the pairs filled out the middle. Facts of Life star turned Real Housewife Kim Fields received mostly positive reviews from the judges for her cha-cha with Sasha Farber. UFC fighter Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas pleasantly surprised the judges with their not-superstiff foxtrot. Full House (and Fuller House) star Jodie Sweetin performed a respectable tango with partner Keo Motsepe, while Marla Maples (a TV personality and ex-Mrs. Donald Trump) and Tony Dovolani charmed everyone with their quickstep.
Rounding out the pack were Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess, who made it through their quickstep with no major errors, as well as Von Miller with Whitney Carson, whose foxtrot was described as “soft and silky.”
As for random celebrity facts that were revealed: Miller has a chicken tattoo, and Maples wishes people would stop asking her about her ex-husband’s hair. “His hair is fine!” she laughed.
Complete rankings for week 1:
23: Wanya Morris, Ginger Zee, Nyle DiMarco
21: Paige VanZant, Marla Maples, Antonio Brown, Von Miller
20: Kim Fields, Jodie Sweetin
16: Mischa Barton
15: Doug Flutie
13: Geraldo Rivera
Tell Us: Who do you think will go home first?
Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.
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