June 25th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
For fans of "So You Think You Can Dance," Tuesday is a big day.
Not only does tonight mark the beginning of the competition phase of the season, but the start of the live shows on Fox will also bring a reunion with Cat Deeley, "SYTYCD's" beloved host.
Those who don't watch "SYTYCD" regularly might have an impression of Deeley as just a pretty Brit, but those who have followed the program season after season know there's more to Deeley than that.
While she isn't the only superb reality TV host out there - the Seacrests and the Bergerons and the Probsts sparkle in their ways - Deeley is the most interesting of the group. Here are five ways Cat Deeley stands out:
5. She has style
Cat Deeley always looks like a million bucks, and we have a hunch she'd look stunning in a burlap sack. But Deeley never dons a burlap sack, instead wearing one dreamy, beguiling dress after another. There are mini dresses, flapper frocks, shift dresses, vintage cocktail numbers and gowns. A former model, Deeley is her own stylist on "SYTYCD," and uses the platform as a costuming playground. It's all whimsy and dramatic flair, and because she's having so much fun with it, we fans can, too. In fact, one of the only downsides to the competition's shift to a one-show-per-week format is that it's meant fewer opportunities to check out Deeley's ensembles.
4. She rocks out
Not an episode goes by in which she doesn't dance. And the fact that this show is packed to the gills with elite, insanely capable dancers only makes Deeley's unwieldy and uninhibited attempts all the more adorable. She freestyles with the contestants at the top of each telecast, and jumps into the fray with show hopefuls - on sidewalks, in theater lobbies and in city plazas - while they're waiting for their turn to audition. Deeley can't help herself. She's game, and the dancing is just one slice of it.
3. She listens
It's the most basic thing, but it's not often you see it on TV (or in life, for that matter). The best hosts know when to just be quiet and take in what's happening in the room, staying loose enough that they can be in moment and use that as a guide. Do they need to ask a follow-up question of the contestants? Question the judges' feedback? Rev up the studio audience?
Say what you will about "Idol's" Ryan Seacrest being a slick, presentational android, but he's also really good at listening and responding. "Dancing With the Stars'" Tom Bergeron, too, in his dry, ultra-mellow way. But Deeley does it best. And by really listening, Deeley not only knows the right thing to say, but which of her many roles she needs to jump into at any given moment.
2. She's like a point guard
The best hosts strike a balance between being compelling and remaining in the background. Compare it to a point-guard in basketball, a position that's often more about assists than flashy point-scoring: without him getting everybody into position, the offense wouldn't flow. That's Deeley. She dazzles but doesn't steal the focus.
Instead, she makes everyone else around her look good. She draws out shy contestants and makes them comfortable enough to open up, she gently but firmly tamps down Nigel Lythgoe's weird-uncle tendencies when they enter gross, leering territory, and she expertly re-interprets Mary Murphy's remarks when they're weepy and/or unintelligible.
1. She'd do her job for free
Well, maybe not. But it certainly looks like it. She seems to have deep affection for the gig. Every aspect of the job seems to jazz her up, from traveling to the various audition cities in the dead of winter to chatting up the guest judges to bantering with and bumming candy off the studio audience (I've seen her do it). By the time she utters her line "Welcome.... to 'So You Think You Can Dance,'" it always feels like she's jumping out of her skin with anticipation and glee.
When a host has this kind of attachment to her show, it's not just endearing - it's flat-out contagious.
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