Wednesday, May 19, 2010

American Midol

I came to watch American Idol very late this season....last week as a matter of fact. And before that, a couple of seasons ago. Why? Just not that interesting. I tend to ask friends who are fans if I am missing anything, and then decide to watch or not. Having worked in theater for many years with some of the best fucking voices you will ever hear, I am super picky about singing talent. American Idol is supposed ("supposed") to bring us the very best the country has to offer. Really? It has become more like the best the country has to offer who will make a fool of themselves on TV for millions of dollars. The singing at the end of this season has been better than some, but let's face it, AI is jumping rope with the shark. They depended on the cutey cutester good looks of Lee Dewyze and that long blonde buffoon boy to keep us interested, while the dreaded dread-lock monster Crystal Bowersox (should have changed your name, honey!) swept the floor with them using her Janis Joplin-lite singing persona.

Crystal has knocked a couple of performances out of the ballpark, and if she doesn't win, it will be another manipulation of the outcome to suit the suits in charge of demographics, sales numbers, and Q ratings. She has stood out from the beginning, with her "I made my own dread-locks from yarn" look down to her own personal 5-foot tall bong microphone stand. Plus, she has more natural musicality and vocal talent than all the others combined. And yet, she isn't THAT astonishing. I wouldn't buy her album on ITunes, I wouldn't pay to see her sing in person; she just isn't that engaging. What ever happened to the people who wanted to be "Stars" with a capital "S"? That type that has waited their entire life to step onto a stage and change the world with one note? Perhaps that was left to the amazing Susan Boyle, who changed the world and millions of people in it with a 3-minute act of bravery. She KNEW what would happen if she got her chance; Crystal has no such inner vision. It takes guts, work, and fortitude to be a Star...perhaps we have all just gotten too lazy. The exploration of a true gift of talent is exhausting, and our National habit of convenience at any cost is costing us a lot.

Crystal will probably win, make the rounds of all the talk shows the next couple of days....we'll see pictures of her kid and her family, and then in a few months a sellable, middle of the road single will appear just in time for the beginning of a "new" season of American Idol. Which brings me to a bigger query: has the "Reality TV" boom reached a zenith? Is it on the decline as show after show continues with the exact same formula for 8,9, or even 10 years? Remember when Survivor swept the world with it's amazing freshness and controversy? That gay guy won a million dollars? What? I was even reminded a couple of days ago that The Apprentice was once the number one show in America. Oy. Yes, I am the product of "Reality TV" myself; I am quite well aware of it. I also have had a great career before (and after) I was a part of it. It definitely helped me; but I wasn't no one or nothing before my appearance in millions of American living rooms. And our fame on the show didn't just depend on who could be the most outrageous or obnoxious. I am looking at you, New Jersey.

Has Reality TV lost it? Like Madonna and Lady Gaga, musn't it keep re-inventing itself to remain relevant, or just fresh? The beloved Project Runway has lost 32 percent of it's audience in the last two seasons. Time to re-tool? Anyone? Or just keep squeezing it until it is a dead dry rag nobody wants to watch anymore? Other shows are on their way to this end; America's Next Top Model, Survivor, The Bachelor, The Real Housewives of Whatever, and yes, even American Idol are all on their way to post-modern obscurity unless we medicate and heal patient a.s.a.p.

Soon, we'll be back to scripted TV, but it will be filled with Reality TV stars.

(PS--Don't EVEN get me started on Glambert!)


  1. That is a scary thought. Scripted tv with reality stars.

  2. Having spent a fortune on a theatre degree myself, I do hope that the end is near for reality starved america. I want to see some SAG approved dramas and comedies where the players involved need to know comic timing and how to cry on command! Have you seen the finale of Brothers and Sisters?? I was laughing one second and balling the next. Project Runway aside (which I will always watch) I'm sick to death of reality TV.

  3. HGTV will live forever, because apparently only Canadians know what to do with a messed-up kitchen.

  4. i am now addicted to hgtv!


  5. RuPaul's Drag Race - though it has its problems - is a sharp and funny and self-aware reality show that I think could go a few more seasons.

    The bigger fear *I* have is that reality TV will disappear and instead we'll get the equivalent of webcam programming - just miscellaneous people willing to stream their entire dull (or appalling) lives for millions of TV/web viewers.