Television

Talking About 'Dancing': Chaz Bono Shakes Things Up On One Of TV's Safest Shows

Chaz Bono, seen here in June 2011, has been cast on this season's Dancing With The Stars. i

Chaz Bono, seen here in June 2011, has been cast on this season's Dancing With The Stars. Michael Buckner/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Chaz Bono, seen here in June 2011, has been cast on this season's Dancing With The Stars.

Chaz Bono, seen here in June 2011, has been cast on this season's Dancing With The Stars.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Listen to Michel Martin talk to Eric Deggans and Jeremy Kinser about Chaz Bono's casting on Dancing With The Stars.

Today's Tell Me More has a good segment looking at an interesting television development: the casting of Chaz Bono on Dancing With The Stars. Michel Martin talks to TV critic Eric Deggans and with Jeremy Kinser, who's the Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Advocate, about Bono's casting.

Kinser says that it's been big news in the LGBT community, and that he's heard from a lot of people who say they don't typically watch Dancing, but they're thinking about doing so this season, just so they can vote for Chaz Bono. But, as Deggans notes, there are also people talking back on the ABC message boards about the fact that they're offended by this particular casting move.

What Deggans points out is that one of the things that makes this an interesting development is that ABC — and its parent company, Disney — apparently decided that it's safe to cast a transgender person on a show that appeals largely to middle-aged affluent women. They may have been encouraged in that by the fact that Bono has already gotten a fair amount of exposure in front of Oprah Winfrey's audience, both on Winfrey's talk show and via a documentary series about Bono's transition that aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

As Michel Martin points out, this isn't the first time the show has cast a potentially controversial person; it wasn't so long ago they caught a certain amount of heat for having Bristol Palin on. And Deggans ultimately issues a reminder that whether you're a good dancer or a bad dancer, it's more about getting better over the course of the season (see: last season's Kirstie Alley) than it is about starting out as naturally gifted. So even if you don't think Chaz Bono has the carriage of a dancer, he may stay around longer than you think.

It's a good discussion, well worth listening to, so tune in to the show or listen to the segment online later today.

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