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Five Reasons James Van Der Beek Should Win DWTS (And One Reason He Might Not)

The Dawson's Creek alum has the best chance at taking home the mirror ball, but he's not a total lock.
  • James Van Der Beek and Emma Slater on Dancing with the Stars. (ABC)
    James Van Der Beek and Emma Slater on Dancing with the Stars. (ABC)

    Now that Dancing With The Stars has finally sloughed off the barnacle that was Sean Spicer, the show heads into the semifinals with five celebrities remaining: former Bachelorette Hannah Brown, All That star Kel Mitchell, former Fifth Harmony member Ally Brooke, country singer Lauren Alaina, and actor James Van Der Beek. Based on show history, It seems Van Der Beek is mostly likely take home the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy for the following reasons:

    • The judges keep talking about the time he puts into rehearsal. The judges really, really love when celebrities put in a lot of hours and really, really hate when they don't. Nearly every season, there is a roll-in package to demonstrate how at least one of the celebrities has other professional obligations (concerts, appearances, whatever) that are preventing them from rehearsing enough. The judges will let that slide in the early weeks but once the quarterfinals hit, the judges will call that person out, usually as a set up to low scores and a potential elimination. That won't happen to James, as the judges have repeatedly mentioned how hard he is working. But to be honest, what else does he have going on at the moment? He's not currently filming a television show or movie as far as we (and his IMDb page) know. Other than preparing for DWTS, his only other obligation appears to be parenting his (many) children. And speaking of those children...
    • James is a family man, and viewers love that. His pregnant wife and adorable blonde children have ringside seats every week, and James makes sure to blow them kisses after every routine. Kel Mitchel is the only other remaining contestant with children, and his family hasn't been a part of his story thus far.
    • James is a team player. Even though he's arguably the most famous of the remaining contestants (at least among viewers over 35), James looks genuinely happy when his fellow contestants do well. He's always there with a hug or a high five to congratulate someone, and he doesn't talk back to the judges when they offer critiques. He just smiles and nods and reacts happily to his scores, whatever they are. So while he's probably the only contestant with the standing to act the diva, instead he appears to be Miss Congeniality.
    • Who else is more likely to inherit the Spicer vote? It's no secret that there was a concentrated campaign among certain conservatives to keep Spicer on the show, and it was successful for a long time. Certainly, many of those voters either never watched the show or will stop watching now that Spicer has been eliminated. But for those who stick around, there is a voting bloc out there looking for somewhere to place their votes behind, and James is a likely candidate for all of the reasons detailed above.
    • This might be the most important one: He's the best ballroom dancer. I've long argued that it's not quite fair for male and female celebrities to be judged against one another, since the skills required to do most ballroom and Latin dances are so different based on whether or not you are required to lead. James has had the basics of ballroom down from week one, his footwork and frame are always perfect and everything else is layered on top. It probably doesn't hurt that his mother ran a dance studio when he was a kid.

    All that said, James is far from a lock. He doesn't have the highest average judges' scores of the season — that's Ally. He doesn't have the underdog storyline — that's Lauren. And he doesn't have the press covering his every complaint about the judges — that's Hannah. (Actually, that's probably not helping Hannah with voters either). But the biggest reason that James might not win this season:

    • He may have already peaked. Whether if fits actual events or not, the producers enjoy being able to show a definitive story arc where the celebrity starts out okay, then struggles, and finally peaks at just the right time: The finals. A few hints to figure out which contestant is getting this narrative: listen for the judges to talk about breakthroughs and blossoming, and if you graphed their scores for the season, it would look like the letter U, with higher relative scores early on, then a drop in the standings (including at least one week in the bottom two), and then high scores again. James has been fairly steady throughout, viewers who aren't already devoted to voting for one couple may assume he doesn't need their votes because he's never even been in the bottom two, and that could be his downfall.

    But that probably won't happen. James seems like a good guy who is a great dancer and a deserving winner of the season.

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    Kim Reed has been writing about television online since 1998 on sites like Television Without Pity, Previously.tv, Vulture, and MSNBC. Follow her on Twitter @kimreed  

    TOPICS: Dancing with the Stars, ABC, Ally Brooke, Hannah Brown, James Van Der Beek, Kel Mitchell, Lauren Alaina, Reality TV