'DWTS' Judge Carrie Ann Inaba Admits This Season 'Took a Lot More Energy' Due to Lack of a Live Audience (Exclusive)

With shows gearing up for new seasons this fall, many wondered how things would work out logistically due to the coronavirus pandemic that is still in play. ABC's hit dance competition Dancing with the Stars found a way to make it happen and feel somewhat normal for their viewers, but not necessarily normal for those inside the ballroom. The judges, hosts and contestants were forced to step up their game. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, judge Carrie Ann Inaba admits that this season might be the most competitive one yet because there's no live audience.

"It took a lot more energy from each one of us to sustain the energy in the ballroom without an audience," Inaba detailed. "But with the cast and their costumes and the music and the lights and the dancing and the energy that everybody brought — because I do think that everybody knew they had to step it [up] [...] and they did — I'm really proud that we all did such a good job in creating the energy that's over there. We want everyone to be able to have two hours where they forget about what's happening in the world right now and just be entertained and laugh with us and from at home like they always do and get mad at me for calling lifts, as they always do," she joked.

After revealing who she feels stood out in week one, adding that Justina Machado and Nev Schulman took her by surprise with great performances while also praising Skai Jackson and Kaitlyn Bristowe. She did confess that not having a live studio audience will amplify the competition, though. "There's a lot of good people, so I think this season, because there's also not an audience in the room, that it's going to also be a more competitive season because it's really now just the dancers performing for the judges. There's no one to distract them from what we're saying. Usually the audience is booing against us, so you have all this energy going one way and what we say maybe doesn't have as much weight to the performers. Whereas this year, I feel that the connection is going to be stronger, which will make for a more intense competition."

Those who tuned in were surprised that there was still audience noise, including booing, that gave the ballroom a very normal feel given that there was no one else in there besides the judges, dancers, and those who work behind the scenes. Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. For more on Carrie Ann Inaba and your other favorite celebrities, keep it locked into PopCulture.com.