In June of 2005, The Sith were getting their revenge in Star Wars, Gwen Stefani was announcing she ain't no hollaback girl, and stars were dancing into our homes for the first time. 15 years and 28 seasons later, Dancing With the Stars is still Foxtrotting along with outrageous outfits, controversial stars, shocking moments, incredible dance moves, and some not-so-incredible dance moves.
Host Tom Bergeron didn't see any of it coming. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Tom said, "I thought, 'Well, it might be a fun summer show. Might, you know, show up a few weeks every summer. But no expectation that we'd be talking about it 15 years down the road." Even though Bergeron wasn't sold on the show at first, he quickly warmed up to the idea. "This is a self aware, kind of kitschy but exciting at the same time, competition of people coming out of their comfort zones."
Back in that very first episode, judge Kelly Ann Inaba got her first taste of boos from the audience when she gave a slightly harsh critique to General Hospital star, and eventual winner, Kelly Monaco. Following Kelly's first dance, Carrie Ann said, "Kelly, I didn't enjoy your dancing. You looked very stiff and you looked very refined. I appreciated your carriage, but it was very stiff. And it wasn't enjoyable to watch."
Looking back now, Carrie Ann explained that she might've come on a little strong, saying, "I was shocked at how abrasive the words sounded once they came out of my mouth because I was meaning them with, like, compassion, but they didn't come out with compassion. And that's been a huge lesson of being a judge is you really have to be careful how you wrap your words."
Carrie Ann has since learned to carefully craft her critiques, and offered an apology to Kelly. "Kelly Monaco, I just have to apologize to you, I mean forgive me. What I did — what I said was horrible, but I was a baby judge and I was still learning how to do it." The DWTS judge then jokingly tried the critique again. In a very diplomatic tone, Carrie Ann said, "There's things we could work on here, but there's a lot of potential," before adding, "I love you, Kelly."
The first season of the show only had six contestants — boxing legend Evander Hollyfield, supermodel Rachel Hunter, Bachelorette Trista Sutter, New Kids on the Block heartthrob Joey McIntyre, Seinfeld star John O'Hurley and Kelly Monaco. John and Kelly met in the finals, where Kelly Samba'd so hard her wardrobe malfunctioned.
The strap on Kelly's top snapped off and she danced through most of her Samba while holding onto her top. It was an impressive performance that Carrie Ann admitted was the turning point for Kelly. "Suddenly she got into this, like almost like warrior princess mode and she, like, every move was stronger and harder, it was, like, making up for the fact that her wardrobe slipped and she wasn't insecure and that's what was so great," said the long-time judge.
Tom was also amazed by Kelly's perseverance, saying, "She should have won on that alone. Um, you know, just in the midst of a live TV thing and to still dance really, really well while holding your wardrobe together. Uh, I thought that was pretty impressive."
Kelly did end up winning after her final dance scored the only perfect 30 of the season, although there was some backlash following her victory because people felt John O'Hurly had danced better throughout the season. The controversy prompted a special rematch dance-off between the two, which Carrie Ann now feels was unnecessary. She said, "I don't think that was a good idea. I think the winner should always just be the winner. Good, bad, or whether you agree or disagree, too bad. That's the way it should be."