Leah Remini is settling into her new and unexpected role as a judge on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. The King of Queens actress replaced Matthew Morrison for Season 17 after he was fired over not adhering to “competition production protocols” following the audition rounds in which he, JoJo Siwa and Stephen Boss (a.k.a. tWitch) chose the Top 12 dancers to advance in the competition. Some viewers found it odd that the Emmy-winning Remini heeded the call to take the third spot behind the judges’ table, due to her not having a background primarily in dance. It doesn't bother her fellow judges, though, who seem to like the way she fits into the group regardless.
While tWitch got his start on So You Think You Can Dance as a contestant on Season 4, and JoJo Siwa has been dancing on TV since she was 10 years old on Abby Lee’s Ultimate Dance Competition (and later Dance Moms), Leah Remini’s background is far less dance-specific. She does, however, come with decades of experience in the entertainment industry on both sides of the camera, and tWitch told People he loves what she brings to the judging panel:
In her first couple of episodes, Remini proved that she’s not afraid to disagree with the arguably more knowledgeable dancers to her right, sometimes praising the performance aspect of a number even if tWitch or JoJo Siwa has critiqued that contestant’s technical execution. If only all situations in life involving contrasting opinions also included such positivity.
Just as tWitch said he enjoys the different perspectives the trio are bringing to the table, Siwa also doesn’t seem to mind when Leah Remini has a different opinion. To her, Season 17’s newest judge helps to bring the humor. As the YouTube star put it:
JoJo Siwa is known for her larger-than-life personality, and tWitch’s smile could light up the darkest cave, so it’s hard to imagine that group would need someone else to lighten the mood. However, they both also take their craft very seriously, and some of their more pointed feedback to the contestants has elicited boos from the audience.
Plus, having a judge who focuses on aspects other than technical ability is important for a show that has cemented the distinction to crown “America’s Favorite Dancer” as it does, rather than the best dancer. But that still hasn’t kept some fans from speaking out on social media about their disappointment in not having a third dance professional in the mix.
Of course, JoJo Siwa has also clapped back at critics who’ve questioned her own expertise even though she's been dancing for her whole life. And tWitch has even addressed disappointed fans who complained about some of the choices the judges made in choosing which contestants are advancing on the show. So at least Leah Remini is in good company with not being able to please them all!
So You Think You Can Dance is down to its Top 10, and after the June 22 episode saw the girls dancing in their preferred genres. SYTYCD returns to Fox at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, June 29, as the dancers will take us “Around the World.” Be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what shows are premiering soon.
Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.
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