The former Bachelorette, 35, and her professional partner, 38, left it all on the dance floor during the Monday, November 2, episode of the ABC competition series after facing harsh criticism and a low score from Inaba, 52, the week before. “I feel like I’m never going to be good enough for what they hold me to,” Bristowe admitted during an emotional rehearsal before she performed.
While the Hawaii native commended Bristowe’s effort in what she thought was one of the “best performances” so far, she still laid into the routine. “I know last week was a tough week, but you came back with grace and energy. I’m a little torn right now,” Inaba said, calling attention to a move that she thought looked like a lift, which is not allowed under the show’s rules.
After comparing the dances of other contestants, some viewers wondered whether the choreographer’s critiques were more personal than professional. Chigvintsev dated Inaba for two years after meeting on the set of So You Think You Can Dance in 2006 — and some fans think she is taking her feelings out on the DWTS duo.
“#DWTS k @carrieanninaba just because [you] and Artem used to date there’s no need to be so hard on @kaitlynbristowe,” one fan tweeted, while another noticed that the other two judges, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough, were more constructive with their comments. (Inaba and Tonioli gave the pair 8s while Hough awarded them a 9.)
“@carrieanninaba please learn to judge ALL contestants the SAME way. Don’t put your personal feelings ahead of that,” one tweet read. “I feel for some contestants on @DancingABC bc you clearly don’t like them based on how you judge them. I don’t see @derekhough or @BrunoTonioli doing that.”
Some social media users took Inaba’s side, but many believed Bristowe and Chigvintsev have proven themselves to be one of the strongest pairs on the show this season.
“I do not understand why @carrieanninaba hates @kaitlynbristowe so much??? Like I know you dated Artem but DAMN. Kaitlyn is deff top 3 on there and she treats her like trash,” another viewer wrote.
After giving their all on Monday night, Chigvintsev and the “Off the Vine” podcast host told Entertainment Tonight that Inaba’s judging felt “personal.” The next day, however, Inaba defended herself against the backlash.
“I still get bullied. Right about this time is when people start to bully me because of the way I judge people. I can’t believe it still happens as adults,” she said on The Talk on Tuesday, November 3. “I want to tell people who bully: It doesn’t make me change the way I judge. I’m not about to change because you try to bully me. It only makes me stand stronger in my convictions and what I believe in.”