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ABC ruined Dirty Dancing with a terrible remake. Twitter had the time of its life.

The remake made a litany of changes to the original — including a new ending.

This happened.
Guy D'Alema / ABC
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

There comes a time in the midst of a turbulent sociopolitical climate and rising international tensions when humanity needs to unite, to rally against a common enemy.

Thus it was that ABC’s remake of Dirty Dancing was the No. 1 worldwide Twitter trend Wednesday evening, as fans of the 1987 classic starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey came together to indulge in several hours of ridicule while the remake aired in the US.

Was ABC’s remake really that bad? In a word, yes.

The acting was lackluster; Abigail Breslin played Baby mainly by looking surprised and doing her best teen Kirsten Dunst impression. As Johnny Castle, Colt Prattes could sing just fine, and he had a pompadour which tended to effectively distract us from his lack of facial expressions, but his dancing was nowhere on par with Swayze’s legendary performance in the original film.

Breslin’s dancing was even worse — and it didn’t help that she had far more chemistry with her other dance partner, Nicole Scherzinger (who played Penny), than with Prattes. In particular, it was difficult not to ridicule the famous water lift scene for its cringeworthy differences from the original.

Despite featuring choreography from Hamilton’s Andy Blankenbuehler, the remake’s dancing in general failed to impress.

Most viewers — or at least the ones on Twitter — seemed to agree that the main problem with ABC’s Breslin/Prattes pairing was its lack of chemistry. But it didn’t help that the film essentially turned one of the most notoriously sexy romances of our time into a Disney movie (which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, since ABC is owned by Disney, but still).

The remake departed from the original in several significant ways. Most of the Dirty Dancing’s original themes — a hypocritical upper crust, social and class tensions, and frigid family dynamics — were watered down with heartwarming family reconciliations, interracial friendships, and empowered girls being empowered together.

Nearly every song that featured in the original’s iconic soundtrack was a remake itself, heavily remixed or newly covered; many major songs (like “Do You Love Me,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and, of course, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”) were reworked to turn the movie into an actual musical, with the characters themselves singing as well as dancing.

Notably, however, the remake did keep the original’s famous abortion storyline essentially unchanged, while also using it to drive Penny and Baby’s closer friendship.

Several minor storylines were cut or significantly changed, while newer, cheesier ones were added.

The famous line “I carried a watermelon” was changed (or flubbed) to “I carried his watermelon,” a travesty which sparked its own protest hashtag.

The even-more-famous “Loverboy” scene — in which the original characters lip-synced “Love Is Strange” — was awkwardly turned into one of the aforementioned sung musical numbers, sending numerous fans into some sort of virtual apoplexy.

And worst of all, the original nebulous-but-happy ending was extended to include a clunky, bittersweet flash-forward shipped straight from La La Land, parting our lovers for, you know, maybe forever, with the lackluster final words, “Keep on dancin.’” Like anyone would want to dance after this.

Look on the bright side, fans — you’ll always have the original in all its (mostly) untarnished glory.

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