Filling The Dancing with the Stars Card

The 21st (yes, really) season of America’s favorite celebrity ballroom competition series kicked off last night with a whole new crew of stars, a term which is used very loosely for this show.

I got into DWTS a few years ago due to my job, and although I’m no longer required to watch it, I find myself accidentally tuning in. This year, I had no choice, since my boy Nick Carter signed up for the show. (BTW my first reaction upon hearing he was cast was ‘Oh no. Nickolas. What are you doing.’ It changed to, ‘I guess I’ll be voting this season?). Of course this isn’t the first time a pop star or even boy bander has joined the competition, and it got me thinking – over the course of 21 seasons, the casting department and producers of DWTS, especially over the past few years, have made it a mission to fulfill certain “stereotypes” when it comes to the contestants on the show. Nick isn’t the first pop singer to join the program, and he’s certainly not the last.

Let’s delve into the certain characters and qualities that appear on the show every year – and determine who actually has a shot of winning the coveted MIRROR BALL TROPHY.

*denotes winner of season

Season 21 Contestant: Nick Carter {Backstreet Boys}


Filling the Quota: Pop star and-or actor/has plenty of dance experience/ringer

Preceded by: Alfonso Ribeiro (S19)*, Corbin Bleu (S17), Aaron Carter (S9), Lance Bass (S7), Mario (S6), Joey Fatone (S4), Drew Lachey (S2)*, Joey McIntyre (S1)

Usually Partnered With: Sharna Burgess, Alison Holker, Cheryl Burke

Notes: This contestant usually comes in having an impressive background in dance, but not necessarily with ballroom, making them meet high expectations on the dance floor. They’ve also got a sufficient fan base that will vote for them, no matter what.

Season 21 Contestant: Chaka Kahn {Soul Singer}

Filling the Quota: BBW

Preceded by: Patti LaBelle (S20), NeNe Leakes (S18), Amber Riley (S17)*, Sherri Shepherd (S14), Gladys Knight (S14), Wendy Williams (S12), Niecy Nash (S10)

Usually Partnered With: Tony Dovolani, Artem Chigvintsev

Notes: This contestant usually makes it fairly far (not eliminated the first two weeks), even though they’re not usually the best dancer, but they’re universally loved and bring personality and charisma to the show.

Season 21 Contestant: Bindi Irwin {Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s Daughter}

Filling the Quota: Most likely to be on cover of CosmoGirl or Teen People

Preceded by: Willow Shields (S20), Sadie Robertson (S19) Bethany Mota (S19), Zendaya (S16)

Usually Partnered With: Mark Ballas, Derek Hough

Notes: The teens are eager to learn, and quick to learn, maybe most importantly. They also make it fairly far in the competition, and it’s always a fine line between being sexy on the dance floor and remembering they’re underage.

Season 21 Contestant: Andy Grammer {Singer/Songwriter}

Filling the Quota: Rando singer/musician

Preceded by: Redfoo (S20), Gavin DeGraw (S14), Master P (S2), Billy Ray Cyrus (S4), Chuck Wicks (S8), Donny Osmond* (S9), Michael Bolton (S11).

Usually Partnered With: Allison Holker, Sharna Burgess, Emma Slater

Notes: You’d think musicians would have good rhythm as dancers, but most of the time, it just means their rhythm is better suited off the dance floor.

Season 21 Contestant: Tamar Braxton {R&B singer/Reality TV star}

Filling the Quota: Rando female singer

Preceded by: Willa Ford (S3), Marie Osmond and Mel B (S5), Toni Braxton (S7), Belinda Carlisle (S8), Macy Gray and Mya (S9), Nicole Scherzinger * (S10), Brandy (S11), Chynna Phillips (S13), Wynonna Judd and Kellie Pickler (S16),

Usually Partnered With: Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Val Chmerkovskiy, Derek Hough

Notes: Same as Rando Male Singer. Unless you’re former Pussycat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger, who should could as a boy band ringer.

Season 21 Contestant: Victor Espinoza {Jockey/Triple Crown Winner}

Filling the Quota: Athlete

Preceded by: Michael Sam (S20), Michael Waltrip (S19), Keyshawn Johnson (S17), Jacoby Jones and Victor Oritz (S16), Donald Driver (S14)*, Metta World Peace (S13), Sugar Ray Leonard and Hines Ward (S12)*, Rick Fox (S11), Chad Ochocinco (S10), Warren Sapp (S7), Helio Castroneves* (S5), Apolo Anton Ohno (S4), Emmitt Smith (S3)*

Usually Partnered With: Witney Carson, Karina Smirnoff, Cheryl Burke

Notes: Unless they’re an NFL star, they have no chance of winning.

Season 21 Contestant: Hayes Grier {Vine Personality}

Filling the Quota: Reality TV/Internet Person/WHO?

Preceded by: Mark Cuban (S5), Rocco DiSpirito (S7), Steve-O (S8), Jake Pavelka (S10), Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (S11), Carson Kressley and Rob Kardashian (S13), Sean Lowe (S16),

Usually Partnered With: Emma Slater, Peta Murgatroyd, Karina Smirnoff

Notes: Although this person has plenty of fans, the contestant has a lot of work to do in the dance studio. He gets frustrated often and knows how to be dramatic in front of a camera.

Season 21 Contestant: Alexa Penavega {Actress}

Filling the Quota: Younger actress

Preceded by: Rumer Willis (S20)*, Janel Parrish (S19), Chelsea Kane (S12), Sabrina Bryan (S5), Monique Coleman (S3), Kelly Monaco* (S1)

Usually Partnered With: Val Chmerkovskiy, Mark Ballas, Artem Chigvintsev

Notes: Is the underdog, surprisingly good and consistent throughout the show, a force to be reckoned with towards the end.

Season 21 Contestant: Carlos Penavega {Actor/Singer}

Filling the Quota: Younger actor/singer

Preceded by: Riker Lynch (S20), James Maslow (S18), Brant Daugherty (S17), Roshon Fegan and William Levy (S14), Romeo Miller (S12), Kyle Massey (S11), Cody Linley (S7)

Usually Partnered With: Alison Holker, Witney Carson

Notes: Is the underdog, surprisingly good and consistent throughout the show, a force to be reckoned with towards the end.

Season 21 Contestant: Gary Busey {Actor/This Guy}

Filling the Quota: Older actor/Comedian/Not a chance in hell

Preceded by:  Tommy Chong (S20), Andy Dick (S16) David Hasselhoff (S11), Buzz Aldrin (S10) Tom DeLay (S9), Steve Wozniak (S8), Jeffrey Ross (S7), The Holy Trinity – Steve Guttenberg, Penn Jillette and Adam Carolla (S6), Wayne Newton (S5), Jerry Springer (S3)

Usually Partnered With: Kym Johnson, Cheryl Burke, Emma Slater, Anna Trebunskaya

Notes: Just. No.

Season 21 Contestant: Paula Deen {Former Food Network Star/This Guy}

Filling the Quota: Older Actress/TV Personality

Preceded by: Suzanne Somers (S20), Betsey Johnson and Lea Thompson (S19), Valerie Harper (S17), Ricki Lake (S13), Kirstie Alley (S12), Florence Henderson (S11), Cloris Leachman (S7)

Usually Partnered With: Tony Dovolani, Artem Chigvintsev

Notes: Depending on the star herself, they could either fail (Cloris) or do really well (Kirstie).


Season 21 Contestant: Kim Zolciak Biermann {The Real Housewives of Atlanta}

Filling the Quota: Reality TV Star

Preceded by: Lisa Vanderpump (S16), Kristin Cavallari (13), Kendra Wilkinson (S12), Audrina Patridge and Bristol Palin (S11), Kate Gosselin (S10), Joanna Krupa (S9), Holly Madison and Melissa Rycroft (S8), Kim Kardashian (S7), Trista Sutter (S1)

Usually Partnered With: Tony Dovolani, Louis van Amstel, Mark Ballas

Notes: Because this is a REALITY competition show, after all.

Season 21 Contestant: National Guardsman Alex Skarlatos {one of the Americans who helped stop a gunman on a Paris-bound train}

Filling the Quota: Inspirational hero

Preceded by:  Heather Mills (S4), Chaz Bono and J.R. Martinez* (S13), Amy Purdy (S18), Noah Galloway (S20)

Usually Partnered With: Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough

Notes: The demographic for DWTS LOVES a good inspirational story, one that makes you cry in the video package shown before their dance every week. This contestant usually does really well.

Other Random Quotas Not Filled This Season:

Female Athletes: Laila Ali (S4) ,Monica Seles and Kristi Yamaguchi* (S6), Misty May-Treanor (S7), Shawn Johnson* (S8), Natalie Coughlin (S9), Hope Solo (S13), Martina Navratilova (S14), Dorothy Hamill and Alexandra Raisman (S16), Lolo Jones (S19)

Female Models: Rachel Hunter (S1), Shanna Moakler (S3), Kathy Ireland (S9), Petra Němcová and Elisabetta Canalis (S13), Charlotte McKinney (S20)

Middle-Aged Actress That Were Somewhat Relevant At Some Point In Their Career: Tia Carrere and Tatum O’Neal (S2), Jennie Garth (S5), Shannon Elizabeth (S6), Shannen Doherty (S7), Denise Richards (S8), Melissa Joan Hart (S9), Pamela Anderson (S10 & 15), Ricki Lake (S13), Melissa Gilbert (S14), Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (S17), Danica McKellar (S18)

Middle-Aged Actor That Were Somewhat Relevant At Some Point In Their Career: John O’Hurley (S1), Joey Lawrence and Mario Lopez (S3), Ian Ziering (S4), Ralph Macchio (s12),

Season 21 Predictions: Final Three – Nick Carter, Bindi Irwin and Carlos Penavega