Returning to American Idol

Okay, okay. Remember how back when I blogged about revisiting Survivor, I mentioned in passing (and jokingly) that I might even try American Idol again? Yeah, well . . . I broke down and added it to my DVR, and then I went one step further and watched the first episode. One thing led to another, and that’s how I’ve started watching the season. Yeah. I’m a sucker, what can I say?

However, a few comments have come to mind around this new version of American Idol that I’m watching now. First of all, the DVR makes a huge difference. If there’s a performance I don’t like, I can just skip it. I can also skip all the ads, which means an episode takes much less time. (I don’t think I’ll watch it live. Even for live sports, I typically will just stay away from any news sources and then start the game an hour or so late. Who has time for ads?) Watching shows on my own schedule is very freeing. (Though there are still some shows I make time for each week as soon as I can. The Marvel shows on Disney+ have been that way for me so far.)

But more than just watching it with a DVR is the fact that the old American Idol was basically “Watch Simon be abusive to people for an hour.” Paula and Randy’s comments didn’t really “matter.” The whole point of the show was to impress Simon Cowell. (A format that went on to be successful in other reality shows, including The Apprentice. One might even wonder if Donald Trump would have been president if not for the path Simon Cowell blazed for him.)

Back in the day, I remember really liking Simon because he was so brutally “honest.” I cringe to think back on that now. And if the current AI were that way, there’s no way I would stick with it. However, the new hosts are genuinely caring. Sure, they do and say some stupid things now and then, and they can get combative with the contestants if the contestants are being combative first, but by and large they seem genuinely concerned for the singers who are on the show. They want to see them succeed, and they give them feedback to help them, no matter what stage of the game the contestants are at.

I believe we all have different inherent aptitudes for different skills. Whether it’s sports or an instrument or writing or whatever, each of us would start off with more or less skill in that than someone else. But you can take the skill you start off with and really make something with it. Through hard work and diligence, you can make that skill come alive, and you can get to a higher point with it than someone with better inherent skill who chose not to hone it.

If people are genuinely interested in getting better at something, the way to help them isn’t to tell them how bad they are, though that can be appealing if you yourself are unconfident. To really help, you point out their strengths and weaknesses and show them the next steps. I really enjoy seeing the judges do that now. Are there as many zingers and “did he just say that?” moments? No, but who cares? You can watch people being nice to each other.

More of that, please.


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