It was a celebratory affair adorned with colorful confetti, radiant smiles and audience members on their feet Monday, November 21, but Charli D’Amelio’s Dancing With the Stars win alongside pro Mark Ballas has divided viewers into two separate camps – those who celebrated the achievement alongside the TikTok star, and those who saw her prior dance experience as an unfair advantage. 

“Thank you guys. This is all thanks to you,” Charli gushed after being named champion. “Thank you so much for the opportunity. Thank you Mark for becoming my new best friend.”

Charli, 18, had an impressive run on the show with Mark, 36, as the pro consistently brought fresh choreography, challenging performance intricacies and visual spectacles to the Disney+ hit week after week. Even the judges – Len Goodman, 78, Carrie Ann Inaba, 54, Bruno Tonioli, 66 and Derek Hough, 37 – had glowing reviews for the TikTok breakout week after week, seemingly finding it very difficult to pick apart her near-flawless routines. 

But some fans of the show hold tight to the impression that DWTS celebrity competitors should have little to no prior dance experience, leveling out the playing field for a fair victor to emerge. In Charli’s case, the blossoming young star began dancing at the age of 3, receiving training in ballet, tap and hip-hop, her prior experience clearly shining in the ballroom. The two very obvious camps – those in support of Charli’s win and those disheartened by her mirrorball success – made their opinions very obvious on social media. 

“So you support people with previous dance training coming on to compete with people who haven’t had dance training?” one Twitter user asked. “How is that fair?”

Another added, “When you have 150 million followers AND professional dance training … yeah, you’re probably gonna win this competition.”

Charli D'Amelio Is Slaying Her 'Dancing With the Stars' Outfits! Photos of Her Best Show Looks
ABC/Eric McCandless

Despite the ire from some DWTS fans, executive producer Conrad Green told Entertainment Tonight ahead of the season 31 premiere that bringing Charli onto the show not only ensured a younger demographic, but pushed the creative boundaries that celebs and the pro partners are used to. The gamble arguably paid off, as Charli and Mark’s creations week after week were close to – if not complete – perfection. 

“Charli has got a ton of potential. She’s got a lot of dance background. So, we wanted to make sure that whoever worked with her was really pushing her and being imaginative and I can’t think of a dancer who is more imaginative than Mark,” Green said. “Someone who’s a YouTube star or in Charli’s case, a TikTok star, and now has a reality show as well, they bring potentially a big audience in. You’ve got to keep up with the change in taste of the audience. You’ve got to know where the audience goes.”

As for her former competitors, finalists Gabby Windey, Wayne Brady and Shangela had nothing but positive messages for Charli amid her DWTS win.





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Tyler Cowan