Tuesday 23 January 2018

Following his divisive win we ask: Should Aidan O'Mahony give back his trophy?

Aidan O’Mahony gets in one last dance with show partner Valeria Milova in Dublin before he
returns to work today. Photo: Damien Eagers
Aidan O’Mahony gets in one last dance with show partner Valeria Milova in Dublin before he returns to work today. Photo: Damien Eagers
Denise McCormack and Ryan McShane
In the swing of things: Aidan O'Mahony and Valeria Milova
Lively: Aoibhín Garrihy & Vitali Kozmin

Ed Power and Kirsty Blake Knox

Following Aidan O'Mahony's divisive win on 'Dancing With The Stars', Ed Power and Kirsty Blake Knox debate the result

Ed says YES:

Aidan O'Mahony's Dancing With The Stars victory was the biggest prime time travesty since we sent a rubber turkey to Eurovision. The former Kerry footballer hoofed his way to first place in Sunday's final despite being clearly outperformed on the night by favourites Aoibhin Garrihy and Red Rock's Denise McCormack. No wonder he was speechless as the result was read out and the confetti swirled down.

Yet, he really shouldn't have been that taken aback. The winner was decided by public vote and if 20 years of reality TV have taught us anything it's that, among a majority of viewers, underdog charm consistently trumps talent.

Consider that Jedward survived on X Factor long after Simon Cowell was ready to cast them into his patented pit of doom. And it was her girl-next-door likability that secured Scarlett Moffatt victory in the latest I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

But then Dancing With The Stars (DWTS), like its UK elder sibling Strictly Come Dancing, was supposed to be different. The show had been billed a celebration of dance, where the winner receives nothing beyond the honour of surpassing their own expectations. Surely it was reasonable to assume contestants would be held to a higher standard than Big Brother and I'm A Celeb?

Perhaps that's why O'Mahony's win has struck so many as unjust. The working garda is obviously a decent chap and his chemistry with dance partner Valeria Milova was the best kind of bubbly. Yet all along we were led to believe DWTS was a superior reality caper and that the most accomplished participants would receive their due recognition.

In the end this was revealed to be an elaborate misdirection. O'Mahony won because he was a big-hearted everyman with an engaging back story - his wife has just given birth to a baby - and an unpretentious life to which those of us at home could easily relate.

It's also hard to avoid the suspicion that he benefitted from tribal block-voting from Kerry. Nor did it escape the attention of many that O'Mahony had received the nod ahead of two better-qualified females. In reality television as in life, sighed dozens on Twitter.

We shouldn't be too upset. In an age when Donald Trump is US President and a hard border between the Republic and the North is a possibility, there are bigger things to worry about. An injustice has been done, but there may be a solution. What's to stop O'Mahony taking the chivalrous route and handing his trophy back?

2017-03-28_lif_29824748_I1.JPG
Lively: Aoibhín Garrihy & Vitali Kozmin

Kirsty says NO:

Dancing With The Stars is not really about dancing. Just like The Voice is not about singing or The Restaurant is not about celebrities chucking in their day job to become sous chefs.

They are all glorified popularity contests with lots of sequins and spins and constructed stakes. Talent, if there is any, comes pretty far down the pecking order.

I watch a lot of reality TV and can tell you that likeability and a good back story will always outflank aptitude. This is why there is so much melodramatic crying on the X Factor.

If you don't have a good back story then you only have one option left -bamboozle them with your sheer effrontery. That's how reality TV shows work. But we still get outraged when results roll in. Case in point: Sunday night.

The nation was divided; there were those who thought O'Mahony was a rightful winner and jumped with joy. And there were those who cursed his name and claimed DWTS had ended in travesty.

On social media, female viewers said O'Mahony's victory was a microcosm of today's heteronormative society; where a man with an inferior skill set trumps his more qualified female counterparts. "Proof that Women just can't win votes," broadcaster Mairead Ronan said. "Even in dancing."

Aidan's quip about not being "bothered what Hill 16 thought" of him was beautifully timed though. Everyone in the country rallied behind him at that stage. However, it was his performance both on and off the dance floor that secured the trophy. He was modest, focused and not overly polished.

He didn't beam at the camera with quite the intensity as Aoibhin Garrihy or Denise McCormack.

He also made, to use reality TV exec's favourite turn of phrase, the "biggest journey". Both Denise and Aoibhin are actresses who are well versed in hitting marks and playing to the crowd. That was all Greek to Aidan.

"I had no dance training whatsoever, no TV or media training either," he said. "This was all new to me. I couldn't move at all when I started."

As TV viewers we love watching a transformation - be it jazzing up someone's patio, losing weight or getting a makeover. Finally, his show dance was categorically the best dance of the night. It was just marvellous. Especially when compared to his fellow contestants.

Aoibhin danced barefoot to Sia's 'Chandelier' - a terrible decision. Denise's dance to 'Imagine' by Emeli Sandé felt too erstwhile and same-y to Aoibhin's. Both of the ladies' routines lacked oomph. And were no way nearly as entertaining, or more importantly, as fun as Aidan's routine.

'Holding Out for A Hero' is a belter of a tune, there were a ton of lifts, and he started out in a satin cape with a lighting bolt on the back.This wasn't just a show dance - it was a show stopper - pure unadulterated fun and top class entertainment. Making him the rightful winner.

Have your Say:

Should Aidan O'Mahony give back his DWTS trophy

Irish Independent

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