‘DWTS’ Season 30 Had Thrills, Chills, Sensational Dances — But Not Much Nostalgia

Dancing With the Stars Season 30 finale
ABC/Eric McCandless

At the beginning of Dancing With the Stars Season 30, two-time Mirror Ball champion Cheryl Burke, who went on to the finals with celeb partner and Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby, told TV Insider that she’d enjoy seeing the show honor its past in between couples performing Argentine Tangos and freestyle routines.

“I’d like to see all the OG pros come back,” Burke said in September. “There’s something nostalgic about that group.” Burke noted reunion shows — like Friends: The Reunion, which debuted last spring on HBO Max — are popular with fans.

Cody Rigsby and Cheryl Burke on Dancing With the Stars Season 30

ABC/Eric McCandless

“We all became a family here at the show – especially that first round of pros,” she pointed out at the time. “We grew up together. People tuned in to see the camaraderie. We each had our own ‘characters’ even though we were playing ourselves. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the show opened up with our first interviews? Or our first dances? [Laughs] I should produce this!”

However, while the 30th season offered up arguably the most competitive season of dance ever, the show focused on its present and future — not the past for its pearl anniversary. As DWTS viewers saw, the show introduced its first same-sex couple, pairing singer JoJo Siwa with Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy. They also went to the finals, coming in second.

DWTS did honor its roots this season with the return of Len Goodman, who took last year off. He was back at the judges’ table, joining Derek Hough and OG judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli as the quartet held up paddles, offering constructive criticism and delivering quips. Also, two-time Mirror Ball champion Julianne Hough stepped in for her brother at the scoring table for the finale after her brother tested positive for COVID-19.

When we checked back in with Burke after the finale, we had to ask her about her thoughts on the milestone season. Would she have wanted to see a few more trips down memory lane throughout the historic finale? “We saw my first partner from 2006 – Drew Lachey [98 Degrees] was here,” she noted of her fellow champion’s presence at the finale.

That said, wouldn’t a montage of past winners or Top 10 dances voted on fans have been fun to revisit? “For sure,” Burke said, “You know, it’s been 30 seasons – not 30 years. Maybe they were thinking the audience has changed? Who knows. You could always go to YouTube and see the rest of the seasons.”

“If you’d like to see past performances, they’re online,” Rigsby concurred.

“I would have loved [more nostalgia],” Burke added, “but that’s just me.”