When I started watching “So You Think You Can Dance,” my husband gave the entire living room a wide berth. He’d hear Mary Murphy’s banshee-like glee at putting a dancer on the “hot tamale train,” and off to headphone land he’d go. But, summer had just started, my graduate school employment had just ended, and it was the beginning of the recession. TiVo meant I could watch the show whenever I wanted. There was no escape for him.For a while, he judged. The way someone who isn’t getting sucked into reality TV does. He had “real things” to do with his life, and didn’t care who the teenage girls of America thought looked cute in polyester dance suits. It’s an easy position to take, but harder to hang on to as your wife rambles about pas de chat, pirourettes, and the Pasodoble with a bowl of fresh, stove-popped popcorn. He could smell the butter. He saw me smiling. He sat down.
And all his feelings of superiority were done. We rambled through the rest of the last season, waiting for Evan to get drop-kicked off and nearly crying through the “Cancer Dance.” We actually stopped the program, rewound it, and watched Melissa and Ade dance it again. He never complained again about Mary’s crazed cackle. Instead, we talked about how wonderful it was that she stepped forward to speak about surviving domestic violence. We talked about the dance lessons I took as a child, the violin he used to play, and the way life changed. We wondered just how young the dancers are — and how strong — the way they defy gravity and tempt you into believing your body might be capable of flight.
That’s the thing with “So You Think You Can Dance.” Instead of slumping around slack-jawed and glossy-eyed, we’ve been rising in our seats to become more involved. Some of that is, of course, involvement with people we don’t actually know and will never meet (love to Ellenore and Ryan), but some of it is with each other. The show invites you to participate, whereas “House” might be better programming or organic arugula farming more worthwhile, sometimes it’s nice to gather at the warm glow of the set and talk with the one you love.