So You Think You Can Dance Is Down To Its Final Two, But Fans Still Aren't Over Season 17's Biggest Change

Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for So You Think You Can Dance Season 17 semifinals, “The Final Cut.” 

There was a time when fans of So You Think You Can Dance weren’t sure Season 17 would ever come to fruition. Fox opted not to move forward with the dance competition in 2020 due to the pandemic, and it was unknown if or when the show would “cue music” for its dancers again. However, the dance gods smiled down, and Season 17 was given new life this year — albeit with a brand-new panel of SYTYCD judges and different format — and somehow we’re already down to the final two contestants. Even as we head into next week’s finale, there’s still one big change that viewers can’t seem to get over.

The final three competitors each performed three times in the semifinals, before hip-hop dancer Essence Wilmington was eliminated, advancing Keaton Kermode and Alexis Warr Burton to duke it out in next week’s finale for $100,000 and the title of “America’s Favorite Dancer.” That title, though, is something SYTYCD fans just can’t make peace with, and their complaints continued on Twitter during the penultimate episode of Season 17. As one viewer said: 

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The biggest change that befell Season 17 — aside from Nigel Lythgoe’s removal from the judges’ table — was that for the first time in So You Think You Can Dance history, the voting was not in the hands of the people watching at home, but solely left to the studio audience and the judges. Therefore, many on Twitter don’t think it’s right that the Season 17 winner be dubbed “America’s Favorite Dancer.” 

Questions have loomed all season about whether or not the Season 17 voting method is fair. The in-studio voting method works well enough for other competition shows, including Fox’s The Masked Singer, but So You Think You Can Dance puts more focus on its dancers’ growth over the course of a season, or their ability to take notes on a week-to-week basis. That kind of knowledge isn’t something the studio audience is going to have access to the same way as the fans watching from home, as this fan indicated:

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The voting may be the biggest point of contention this season, but it’s far from the only one. The judges have spent the past couple of months on the defensive, as So You Think You Can Dance contestant-turned-coach tWitch responded to fan complaints that began in the audition process, and Dance Moms alum JoJo Siwa had to drop a truth bomb about her own expertise in the field. After Matthew Morrison was fired for inappropriate behavior, Leah Remini was tapped as a late replacement, and the King of Queens actress also clapped back at critics, telling them to just let her enjoy the experience.

It’s unlikely the voting format will be changed for the final episode of Season 17, but it will be interesting to see how the feedback will affect the show going forward. For now, you can catch up on this season with a subscription to Hulu, and tune in at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, August 10 on Fox to see who will be crowned “America’s Favorite Dancer” (or whatever you prefer to call it). 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.