Bill Nye is a contestant on this season of Dancing with the Stars, a TV show in which celebrities dance for our amusement. This season features Snooki, who is a small drunk person; Ozzy Osbourne’s son; and the woman who played Jessie on Saved by the Bell. But none of those people, to my knowledge, have done very much for science education in this country, and Bill Nye has, so let’s root for Bill Nye.
The great thing about Bill Nye is that he is, like Mr. Rogers, pretty much the person he plays on his show for children. He is bubbly and enthusiastic and nerdy and wears poorly-fitting short-sleeved button-down shirts while exercising. He also offers his (young, beautiful) dance partner a flower upon introduction…nested in a piece of lab equipment. Nye then asks his partner whether she knows the difference between a flask and a beaker. She does not, which is fine, because Bill Nye does not judge! Bill Nye educates. Bill Nye is a treasure. Bill Nye.
His short dance number is, nominally, a cha-cha, which is a shuffling sort of dance that originated in Cuba in the 1950s. Apparently on Dancing with the Stars, which I have never seen before, each dance is given its own elaborate, themed set. This one appears to be a Frankenstein riff? In which Bill Nye constructs a (young, beautiful) dancer, already in shiny sequiney dance dress, by using beakers filled with bubbling liquids in pretty colors? The dancer is lain on an operating table. Suddenly she bursts upright, with jazz hands.
Bill Nye gesticulates wildly. He is shocked by his creation. He throws his hands in the air! The dancer springs up off the table and gestures theatrically at him. Bill Nye spasms again! They dance for about 20 seconds. Bill Nye, I think, is doing a sort of stiff-legged nerd doctor thing; in his training videos, it’s clear he knows how to do this sort of dance, and is more physically graceful than you’d think. The performance is wildly endearing. The crowd cheers.
The judges are competing to see who will be the mean judge. Two of them are from other countries and say rude things in ways that awkwardly reference science. “Something something Nobel,” says one of the judges.
Bill Nye is given the lowest score of the night. This is an injustice. It will not stand. Can you vote for Dancing with the Stars like on American Idol? Please vote for Bill Nye. Bill Nye.