The Real Dirty Dancing Premier Recap: Fans of the Movie Will Love It

L-R: Anjelah Johnson-Reyes and Howie Dorough CR: Antony Platt/FOX

Fans of Dirty Dancing, the 1987 movie musical starring Patrick Swayze as Johnny and Jennifer Gray as Baby will probably love the FOX competition, The Real Dirty Dancing. The celebrity dance competition airs on FOX Tuesdays at 9 pm, every week in February.

The 4 week “special event” features 8 celebrities all vying to be crowned the best Baby and best Johnny at the end of the competition. 

The cast is the usual D-list types

The cast is the usual collection of D list types. There’s Brie Bella, of the wrestling Bella twins. Corbin Bleu is maybe the most famous of the eight, as he starred in wildly popular High School Musical series for Disney. Tyler Cameron is the suitor Hannah Brown rejected in The Bachelorette season 15 finale in 2019. Cat Cora is the first winner of the Iron Chef. Howie Dorough is the least memorable of the Backstreet Boys. Antonio Gates is a former NFL football player. Anjelah Johnson-Reyes is a former Mad TV cast member. And Loni Love hosts afternoon talk show The Real. 

So You Think You Can Dance alum and Ellen DeGeneres producer, tWitch serves as host. 

The show is an excuse to air tons of clips from the original film

Why Dirty Dancing fans may enjoy the series: It seems to serve as an excuse to air tons of clips from the original film. The celebrity contestants compete against the backdrop of Dirty Dancing recreations. They’re filming at the actual site that served as the movie’s iconic lodge. The celebrities recreate beloved scenes set in familiar places–the gazebo, the lake, the dance floor. 

First, tWitch and the contestants watch professional dancers go at it on the dance floor. After, tWitch asks the contestants to freestyle some dirty dancing. He explains that what they do on the dancefloor will help determine week 1 pairings.

Each of the celebrities has a backstory. For instance, Cat explains that she’s a lesbian and hasn’t danced with a man in years. Loni wants to represent for the big girls, showing them they can dirty dance too. Tyler shares that he lost his beloved mother almost two years ago. She loved when he hit the dance floor. 

Each couple has 24 hours to learn a routine. But where are the choreographers?

Once tWitch pairs up the dancers, he explains that each will have to learn a routine within 24 hours. At the end of the competition, only two couples will remain to do a final routine that includes the iconic “lift” from the movie’s final dance scene.

Oddly, the rehearsal scenes with tWitch show nary a choreographer in site. And there ARE choreographers. Jonathan Platero and Oksana Dmytrenko Platero are likely teaching the couples the routines behind the scenes. But the clips only feature the couples rehearsing complicated steps, with tWitch on hand to mentor and then explain to viewers at home each couple’s strengths and weaknesses.

While the celebrities perform in duos, they are judged individually. The winning Baby and the winning Johnny will choose their partners for the rest of the competition. 

And there is a twist: The celebrities will judge themselves. The women pick the male winner and the men choose the female winner. 

Each pair will dance to a song from the movie. And one thing about Dirty Dancing–it featured great music.

Here are the pairings for this week:

Tyler & Loni – Hey Baby by Bruce Channel

Corbin & Cat – Big Girls Don’t Cry by Four Seasons

Antonio & Brie – Love Man by Otis Redding

Anjelah & Howie – Be My Baby by the Ronettes

Tyler and Loni are weirdly mismatched. Loni is goofing around, while Tyler takes it all very very seriously. Howie blows a lift. Too bad, because Anjelah is a good dancer. Corbin is a ringer. The end. Cat holds her own.  Antonio is super awks, but has the best time. Brie puts those wrestling moves to work. 

Notably, the show makes a point of dedicating the show to Swayze, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 57 in 2009. 

And the Winners Are…

In the end, the guys choose Cat as the best Baby and the girls pick Tyler as the best Johnny (Tyler most resembles Patrick Swayze. For that reason, he’ll probably win). I would have chosen Anjelah and Corbin.

Next week one couple goes home. New couples next week appear to be Anjelah & Tyler, Loni and Howie, Antonio & Brie (Same), Cat & Corbin. So, essentially, winners Tyler and Cat chose the best dancers on either team.

The show is light on competition. The couples finally dance in the last 15 minutes of the show. There is one pointless scene featuring the men in an “acting challenge” recreating a short scene where Johnny tells a college boy waiter to keep his pickle on a plate “and leave the hard stuff to me.”  Was this challenge part of the competition? Nope. Did the girls get a challenge? Nope. 

The competition is basically an hour long homage to Dirty Dancing that happens to have a competition thrown in, almost like an afterthought. 

About mj santilli 35002 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!