ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” Season 23 features a number of talented individuals, but none have been more buzzed about than competitors Ryan Lochte and Laurie Hernandez. Fresh out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Olympians were cast in the latest season of the 2016 and they more than lived up to the hype in the premiere.
Following a disgraceful incident outside the Olympic village, Ryan is seeking redemption. He opens up about the incident, for which he has been suspended from swimming for 10 months, in a behind-the-scenes interview. The 6-time medalist tells those viewing at home that he’s changed and he hopes that his dedication on “DWTS” will prove that. Ryan and his partner meet up for their first practices and it’s clear Cheryl Burke has a long road ahead of her. Despite the many missteps, Ryan remains focused on nailing the routine. He and Cheryl step out in the ballroom for the first time to a revamped version of Frank Sinatra’s “Call Me Irresponsible.” Their cha cha routine scores big with audience members and the judges, who provide constructive feedback during scoring. Perhaps, however, that’s because the discussion was cut short by an unexpected incident. ABC is able to keep much of what happened from airing on the show — which was live — but host Tom Bergeron later sends a shout out to security for acting quickly. Both Lochte and Cheryl appear shaken, but jump right back into judging following an abrupt commercial break. The pair are awarded a 24 out of 40 overall.
Laurie and partner Val Chmerkovskiy follow immediately after and, as expected, the two are an impressive combo. Laurie’s background as a gymnast has clearly given her the leg up on the competition and her talented partner sweetens the pot. The pair score a 31 overall, tying them with James Hinchcliff and Sharna Burgess.
The next live episode of “DWTS” airs Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. The first elimination will premiere the following day.