This dancing queen is headed back to the show that launched her career. Julianne Hough announced her return to Dancing With the Stars Thursday on Good Morning America, stating that she was "excited" to throw herself back into the dance world. But while Hough may have started her career as a professional dancer on the competition series, she won't be dancing her way to a mirrorball trophy this time around. Hough will return to Dancing With the Stars as the show's fourth judge. The fourth judge role is not only new for Hough, but also a change for the series. And according to reports, having a fourth member of the panel won't be the only major change.
Dancing With the Stars has already undergone major changes in the past year. Brooke Burket-Charvet was replaced by Erin Andrews as the show's host, and the results show was eliminated. According to producer Conrad Green's interview with TV Guide, these changes were made to keep the show "fresh" for the audience who has tuned in for years. Hough's addition to the judging panel is one way to keep the series interesting while not straying too far from the DWTS brand.
At the same time, I wonder whether the addition of a fourth judge may harm the show's already established format. Competition shows have the unique problem of choosing whether to stay consistent or take chances with updates, and sometimes, simpler is better. Think about America's Next Top Model: Do we really need the "social media score" and the variety of bells and whistles added during the show's later seasons in order to find the best model? DWTS doesn't seem to want to reinvent themselves completely, but I worry that too many changes to the format will take away from what really pulls viewers into the series — the dancing.