‘Dancing with the Stars’ has long capitalized on stunt contestants to increase ratings. Season 22 had Donald Trump’s ex-wife Marla Maples, Season 28 had former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and now, Season 29 has added ‘Tiger King’ star Carole Baskin to its roster.
Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue, went viral from her rivalry with Joe Exotic in ‘Tiger King’. Exotic’s claim that Baskin murdered her ex-husband Don Lewis especially took social media by storm, leading to memes, further conspiracies and even a song. Now, Baskin has gone from openly despising ‘Tiger King’ to capitalizing off her fame through this bizarre new avenue.
Appearing at the very end of the program, Baskin went all-out with her tiger theming throughout her debut. Her introduction video showed off Big Cat Rescue and her techniques to “stay in shape” before the competition, including dancing with a stuffed tiger. Her big cat-themed puns came at an almost nauseating rate one right after the other.
On the reveal of her partner, professional ballroom dancer Pasha Pashkov, Baskin proudly said, “I asked for someone who was ‘tiger tough’ and ‘bobcat strong’, and Pasha is both.”
The theming came to an exhausting head during their rendition of the Paso Doble. Both Baskin and Pashkov were decked out in cheap, glittery tiger print costumes. A tacky fake tiger and cage covered a decent quarter of the ballroom floor. Their first song was a cover of ‘Eye of the Tiger’, and they barely remained on beat throughout the entirety of it.
As soon as the performance was done, the judges similarly panned it. The awkward haunching of Baskin’s posture and clear stilted movements throughout the performance made Baskin and Pashkov receive the lowest score of the night, earning 11 out of a possible 30 points.
“[She had] used those claws [throughout so much of the performance], I thought she was going to dislocate a shoulder,” said judge Bruno Tonioli.
If anything, the most entertaining part about Baskin appearing on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ had little to do with Baskin herself. John M. Phillips, the personal lawyer of the Lewis family, aired a commercial in Tampa advertising a tip line for any information regarding Don Lewis’s disappearance directly after Baskin’s performance.
“Do you know who did this,” Phillips asked, “or if Carole Baskin was involved?”
Baskin was not amused at the timing of the commercial.
“I believe their actions are just a publicity stunt, but if it helps us find Don, then that will be a huge relief,” Baskin told CNN News.
2020 has been a series of increasingly absurd events happening one right after another. Baskin’s involvement in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ serves as yet another one of those absurd events. Her gimmick ran thin and so did my patience while watching. My only hope is that, now that we have got the memes about Carol Baskin on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ out of our systems, we can go back to more important, or even more slightly more amusing, topics.