Nigel Lythgoe is sorry you think he hates the gays

Over the weekend, at the urging of GLAAD, So You Think You Can Dance executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe issued an apology for his remarks to same-sex ballroom dancing couple Misha Belfer and Mitchel Kibel. If you missed it, watch the segment from Thursday’s premiere below. Please be sure to open your umbrella because it’s raining men.

Among Lythgoe’s comments to the partners: "I think you probably alienate a lot of our audience" and "I’d like to see you both dancing with a girl." Lythgoe then fueled the fire by reiterating his opinion via his Twitter feed after the premeire aired. "The same sex ballroom guys did remind me of Blades of Glory. However, I’m not a fan of Brokeback Ballroom." Please, universe, a ban on Brokeback Mountain jokes!

Reading through the comments on Adam Vary’s excellent SYTYCD TV Watch, I noticed a few people threatening to stop watching one of their favorite shows because Nigel Lythgoe is homophobic. Really? I don’t appreciate his presumption of how the audience would react — I’m pretty sure we’re all capable of forming an opinion of the couple (mine: "no thanks") all by ourselves. But I don’t think Lythgoe’s comments were overtly homophobic. He is a ballroom traditionalist who didn’t like the performance. And there’s no way I’d deprive myself of a televised dancing competition just because its feathery-haired overlord acted like a relentless nitwit. It certainly isn’t the first time he’s said something stupid on TV. I urge anyone who’s had it with Nigel to simply fast-forward whenever possible. (Conversely, I’ve found it enormously rewarding to employ the slow-motion effect when it’s time for Mia Michaels to cry. I’ll make a video sometime!)

What about you? Did Lythgoe’s comments sour you to So You Think You Can Dance? Or is everyone overreacting?

Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • wendyk

    Everyone is absolutely overreacting. Whether you’re for or against gays, at least he was tactfully honest about the fact that a lot of viewers wouldn’t be okay with a male/male couple on there. He’s right, it is awkward to watch a full-on partner dance that way.

  • DW

    As a gay man, I didn’t find Nigel’s remarks homophobic. He just explained his problems with the performance really poorly, and in a way that could be easily misconstrued. Still, it’s not hard to figure out that his problems were with the technique and the weird role switching in the dance itself, and not with the sexuality of the contestants.

  • Kacey

    I thought his comments were poorly worded and didn’t convey what he was trying to say. I think Mary was the voice of reason on this one…talking about their role switching and such.

  • enough already

    Enough with the overreacting….Nigel’s comments were right on and I think he was being too kind actually. He has said MUCH worse things to hetero dancers and these guys were not good at all…they only got screen time because the novelty of their act would make good tv (ie Blades of Glory). Lets remember that the judges almost always break up pairs during the tryouts (ie usually only the better dancer of the pair moves on). I thought that he was being kind by letting them try the choreography when their “pairs” debauchel fell apart…neither one of the guys could hang with the amazing dancers we saw coming out of Denver this year. I don’t need to see anymore of these stunts…just bring on the great dancers!

  • Sabrina

    Nigel just has an awful way with words…I don’t think he meant to be offensive. (Though…really, I’m with Adam Vary… who does he think the audience IS for a dance competition show?) Those unitards were more offensive than anything Nigel’s ever said. Though I’m glad he issued an apology so that we can put this behind us and continue to enjoy the best (reality) show on TV.

  • aps

    yeah, this is overreaction. his words weren’t perfect, but the sentiment wasn’t one of homophobia. he ends up complimenting them. it’s just like saying they didn’t have good chemistry together dancing. There are certain roles played by each person in the dance and they just didn’t execute that.
    personally, i think they just weren’t very good. the guys can dance together all they want and that’s fine by me. Just don’t be bad at it. although the fact that the one was promoting their two male “energies” dancing together annoyed me even more.

  • aps

    p.s. nigel needs a haircut.

  • graeme

    Yeah, his comments weren’t that offensive…but it was odd when he said it would alienate the audience. Cause really, it’s not like gay people don’t watch the show and half the male contestants that have been on the show are obviously gay.

  • Jonathan F.

    Yeah right you’re straight, Mitchel Kibel.

  • Michelle

    Definitely poorly worded. But he had to have known that the suggestion of trying to dance with girls because “you just might like it”, would be taken by many as offensive. The same way that contestants are berated with “haven’t you watched this show before? this is season 5!”, they should know by now what will get a negative response from the audience. Though the same sex dancers had potential, they would have to dance with female partners on the show. This was just a gimmick to make them more memorable.

  • Bradley

    I was less offended by Nigel’s remarks than I was the way that Fox chose to edit the audition. The musical selections were mocking and the light they were portrayed in made them out to be circus freaks.
    I have to wonder who Nigel thinks is watching his competitive dance show though. Does he think a bunch of straight men sit in awe at SYTYCD’s displays of dancing prowess? Come on now.

  • bruno

    i was less offended by nigel’s comments than by the way the duo were edited in the show. it’s raining men?? really?? just kinda tasteless.

  • ger

    Yes, straight people, please continue to tell how I should feel about how people talk about me. Especially today. Especially if you live in California. I’ll get over it.

  • Kelly

    Maybe “homophobic” isn’t exactly the right word. Still, I found his comments to be in poor taste (and this is hardly the first time). I’m not saying that the dancers in question deserved to make the show and I had no problem with any criticism of their dancing ability (of the 3 judges, I felt Mary Murphey was best able to stay on topic). My qualms lie more with the emphasis placed on heternormativity; the implication that only men can be decisive, “masculine” leaders, while women are relegated to the passive, “feminine” role of following; and Nigel’s assumption that the audience shares his antiquated beliefs. I doubt I’ll quit watching the show, but I honestly wouldn’t consider that an overreaction.

  • Varris

    I admit, I was a little offended by Nigel’s comments (and I am gay man who’s a bit un-pc and not at all hypersensitive) – probably because as a longtime fan of the show, I’ve noticed that Nigel has occasionally said similar things before. To me, he just seems kind of overly fixated on making sure the male dancer dances in a masculine fashion.
    I want to believe he is just ultra conservative in his views of ballroom dance and that these views aren’t deeper seated than that. But as he is rather poor at presenting himself sometimes, figuring out which is the truth can be difficult.

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