So You Think You Can Dance Reveals Overhauled Judges Panel Without Nigel Lythgoe, And It Includes JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa from Dancing With the Stars.
(Image credit: ABC)

Dance fans received some great news last month when it was announced that So You Think You Can Dance would return for its previously COVID-canceled 17th season, and now there are even more reasons to celebrate. Fox has announced a completely overhauled judges panel with some exciting and familiar faces, including recent Dancing With the Stars runner-up and Dance Moms vet JoJo Siwa

When SYTYCD returns to Fox on Wednesday, May 18, JoJo Siwa will be joined by fellow judges Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who competed on the show himself in Season 4, and Glee alum Matthew Morrison. What's more, the network also announced that Cat Deeley will be returning as the host, giving the upcoming episodes that much more connective tissue with prior seasons.

Many longtime SYTYCD fans were disappointed when Nigel Lythgoe announced he was not asked to return to the judges panel. As co-creator and executive producer, Lythgoe was previously the only permanent member of a panel that featured a revolving door of judges over the years. Before Season 17 was canceled back in 2020, Mary Murphy and Laurieann Gibson were slated to join Lythgoe in that post, but the pandemic allowed the show the opportunity to mix things up. I’m personally excited to see what the new energy this season's judges bring to the competition.

JoJo Siwa joins So You Think You Can Dance as the second former Dance Moms star to grace the judges' chairs, as West Side Story actress Maddie Ziegler was a judge for the show’s 13th season. Siwa is fresh off her historic appearance on Dancing With the Stars, during which she became the first contestant in the show’s history to dance with a same-sex partner. She and Jenna Johnson (who was a SYTYCD contestant herself in Season 10) placed second.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who was the runner-up when he competed on the Fox show back in 2008. The Magic Mike XXL actor is wrapping up his gig as DJ for The Ellen Degeneres Show and has been a regular feature on So You Think You Can Dance in the years since he competed, often returning as an “all-star” to duet with the current contestants or to serve as a guest judge. It will be great to see him there as a permanent fixture to help other dancers take advantage of the opportunity like he did. 

Matthew Morrison may be widely known as Glee’s Will Schuester, but this star of stage and screen brings plenty of experience to the SYTYCD judges panel. Morrison has been in a number of theater productions, most recently on Broadway in South Pacific in 2015. He’s been nominated for a Tony, an Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards, and appeared on other popular series including American Horror Story and Grey’s Anatomy

Of course, So You Think You Can Dance wouldn’t be the same without Cat Deeley keeping everybody in line. The five-time Emmy nominee will reclaim her rightful place on stage as host. 

While it’s sad to say goodbye to some familiar faces in Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, I think Fox made some great choices for Season 17, and the premiere can’t come soon enough. Catch SYTYCD’s return at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, May 18, on Fox, and in the meantime, check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what other shows are coming soon.

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.