By LINCEE RAY
Nov 19, 2018 @ 4:45 pm
Photo Illustration. Photos: ABC/Getty Images

We are down to the final four in the season 27 finale of Dancing With the Stars, and it's truly a crapshoot — after all, we have three talented dancers and one enthusiastic DJ in the running. How did we get here? Where’s DeMarcus Ware? Where’s Tinashe? Where’s Grocery Store Joe?

Just kidding. I know where Grocery Store Joe is right now. He’s stretching out his final 15 minutes of fame and probably securing his podcast with iHeart Radio as I type this sentence.

With the elimination of several stellar dancers, the DWTS audience is left scratching their heads this year at how the season has unfolded. Those of us who are seasoned fans are not fools. We’ve been down this road before. Everyone knows that the competition has less to do with dancing than it does popularity — after all, the outcome is in the hands of the voters.

In this particular instance, the voters are all apparently listening to the Bobby Bones Show.

Bones understood early on that he was not going to win the hearts of America with his mad dancing skills. Instead, he’s convinced that his wacky shenanigans and his adoring fans will get him to the finish line. Let’s not forget he’s a very successful business man who acknowledges that this, above all else, is a competition that relies on votes. Nowadays, most of us forget the power of radio air waves. He’s working the numbers, which is a very smart tactic.

Another smart tactic is the tried and true publicity stunt. I know I was the one who predicted that Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten would hook up by the end of this season, and I may have cheered in my living room when that prediction became a reality. People love a love story and people will vote to watch that love story unfold each week.

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But something tells me that Bersten is not feeling it, which leads me back to publicity stunt. If the moment had unfolded naturally, I may have bought it. Instead, Ren has a DTR talk with her partner one week before announcing their affection for each other the very next week. On national television. At a Los Angeles dude ranch where the sun was setting perfectly for their first kiss. Alexis lives a staged life on Instagram. Something tells me this romance is also fabricated.

That leaves Milo Manheim and Evanna Lynch. I think true dancers probably flooded Manheim with votes last week because A.) They wanted a proficient dancer to win and B.) They were afraid that Manheim would get kicked off because of split votes. It is often assumed everyone else is automatically voting for the best dancer, so votes are split up among others to help their campaigns along. Instead of voting six times for the best candidate, three contestants get two votes a piece. Again, popularity vote.

Manheim has a decent shot at winning. He’s young and cute and has the power of the Disney Channel behind him, although I’m not sure how many tweens are tuning in to DWTS, let alone voting. There’s also the Witney Carson factor to consider. She’s one of the favorite pros.

Of course Lynch is the true dark horse. She dressed like a cat and tango’d her way into the semi-finals, causing partner Keo Motsepe to cry because he had never been there before. Are her votes from Harry Potter peeps? Is there some sort of international bend I’m not taking into account?

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I believe the finale results will boil down to statistics. Manheim and Carson both have 1 million Instagram followers. Motsepe is limping along at 150,000, but that technically doesn’t matter since his partner pulls in nearly 2 million by herself. Of course no one compares to Ren who has 12.9 million. Fun fact: one of her pictures had a million likes by itself.

You might think Ren has this in the bag if we go by the numbers, but again, I’m not sure how many of her fans are actually voting or just following her to see what new bikini shot pops up in their feed.

Bones has 800 thousand followers. His partner Sharna Burgess has about the same. Before you count him out as a social media loser, it’s important to note that Bones reaches 9 million people monthly on his show, in addition to five million podcast downloads per month. That is significant. Additionally, Burgess has never won any season of DWTS. As a fan favorite pro, she might tip the scales in Bones’ direction.

I think it’s going to come down to Manheim and Bones. Neither have been in the bottom two. Manheim has the “real dancer” vote and Bones has his fan vote. Lynch and Ren have both been in the red light of doom twice, which means they are already teetering the line. And, if I had to guess (I do, for the purposes of this column), I’d say that it will be Manheim and Carson will be the two bathed in glitter confetti at the end of the season. They will be hoisted onto the shoulders of those male pros who are not too bitter to fake enthusiasm for ten seconds of celebratory bliss.

Dancers or not, all four have worked hard to get to this point of the competition. I think any of the remaining contestants would be a gracious winner, but the results will finally tell us who is this season’s Miss Congeniality.