‘Tiger King’ Star Carole Baskin’s Disastrous ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Debut Marks a New Low for the Show

‘Tiger King’ Star Carole Baskin’s Disastrous ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Debut Marks a New Low for the Show

It took nearly two hours for Carole Baskin to get thrown to the tigers. It was an excruciating wait.

Like a big cat stalking its prey, the Dancing With the Stars producers waited a full 117 minutes before going in for the kill, stringing along the scores of new lookie-loo viewers who, judging by the sudden social media interest in the creaky 29th season premiere of the show, were tuning in for a reality-TV snuff film: the televised humiliation of the year’s most notorious TV star. 

They got just that, too. Baskin’s paso doble, danced with laughable predictability to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” earned the lowest score of the night. With just 11 points out of 30, she even ranked lower than former NBA star Charles Oakley, whose choreography at one point was just him clapping in time to the beat. 

The show’s producers, which includes this season’s new host Tyra Banks, wisely suspected that the zeitgeist-seizing personality from Netflix’s maddeningly popular Tiger King docuseries was going to be the night’s big draw, teasing her appearance in the show’s COVID-compliant socially-distanced ballroom roughly three times a segment. 

Say what you will about the long-running reality competition and the audience it panders to, these people are savants of shamelessness. From Sean Spicer to Bristol Palin to Rick Perry, they know what casting decisions are going to score headlines, drum up interest and relevance, and ruffle feathers—and not of the samba gown variety. 

Consider it a devil’s embrace of this dystopian hellscape. Pandemic. Police killings. Protests. Wildfires. Voter suppression. What jester would more please the court of dipshits (that would be us) than the Tiger King lady? She, the woman who became famous because people thought a show that glamorized animal abuse, exploited addicts, and propagated poverty tourism was hilarious camp, her own cultural presence amplified because jokes theorizing that she murdered her husband and fed him to tigers became a popular meme.

(The family of that husband, by the way, purchased ad time in Florida markets and aired a commercial during Monday’s telecast asking for information on his disappearance, should this saga already not be grotesque and twisted.)

Mostly we feel foolish that we didn’t have on our 2020 Bingo Card of Nightmares, “Please welcome to the Dancing With the Stars ballroom, That Bitch Carole Baskin!” (To quote the vile nickname given to her by her nemesis Joe Exotic on the show, which we’ve all broadly adopted, misogyny be damned.) 

What else is there to say about her dance? She wore a saggy pink leotard covered with a mismatched leopard-print apron and, of course, a flower crown. 

I shouldn’t need to tell you that it started with her partner Pasha Pashkov in a tiger cage, because of course it did. They then kind of had a collective seizure back and forth across the stage, stopping every once in a while to make dramatic claw hands at the camera. The climax of the song saw them doing a classic professional paso doble move: walking around in a circle together a few times. 

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