Michael Williams/FOX
Adam B. Vary
June 05, 2009 AT 05:53 PM EDT

While driving in to work yesterday, I found myself on the phone (hands free, promise!) debating with my mother about whether Mia Michaels was (A) an insufferable and self-absorbed know-it-all or (B) an insufferable and self-absorbed know-it-all who makes for great TV and without whom So You Think You Can Dance would be a far less interesting show. In case it wasn’t already completely clear, I was arguing in Mia’s defense, and my basic point was this: Why broadcast a televised dancing competition show if you’re not going to include one or two diva choreographers with wacky ”artistic” hair, an imperious manner, and a tendency to regard auditioning dancers over one’s glasses with a face that could easily lead a random passerby to think one was repressing flatulence? Without Mia, the show would be more pleasant and easy-going, sure, but it would also be more ordinary.

Granted, a little Mia does go a long way. I loved it when she used her turn to tell Kayla Radomski that she’d made the Top 20 to declare that she rarely connects with female dancers because she prefers the power and strength of male dancers. But when she started in on how much she can’t stand Brandon Bryant for at minimum the third time since Vegas week began, I kinda did feel a bit like Mary Murphy: Enough of this crap already, just tell the kid he made it to the Top 20 and then just kick his ass when you inevitably get him in choreography. That said, only Mia Michaels could make the word ”unitard” sound dirty, and I kinda love her for that.

Before I handicap the Top 20, a few more thoughts on last night’s show: I can’t decide whether the head of the Miami City Ballet is a savvy businessperson for knowing enough to hang on to the outrageously talented Alex Wong for as long as humanly (and legally) possible, or one of the biggest boneheads of the year for not realizing that Alex’s continued presence on SYTYCD could’ve meant that much more free national publicity for the ballet company in an economy that is evermore threatening to professional artistic endeavors. (I’d give strong odds that after last night’s episode, Miami City Ballet will have a change of heart and Alex will return triumphant for this fall’s season 6.) And about the Kasprzak brothers: While I guess Nigel made a fair enough point that two Gene Kelly-aping Broadway babes was one too many for SYTYCD, especially since Evan and Ryan’s dancing styles are so innately similar, I also count 12 contemporary/lyrical/jazz specialists in the top 20 this year, so, you know, it wouldn’t have been a heartrending tragedy if one of the blink-and-you-missed ‘im contempo dudes in the Top 20 had lost his slot to Ryan. Finally, I gotta say I’m relieved that for the most part the judges refrained from their historically merciless attempts to fake out Top 20 dancers into thinking they hadn’t made it. Of course, Debbie Allen asking Diana ”My Lucky Monkey Wasn’t So Lucky This Time” Varden if she was ”just nervous, or excited?!” came off as kinda cruel. But oh well.

NEXT: Meet your Top 20

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