Last night’s episode of “American Idol” definitely seemed a little more centered on the judges’ feelings than on the contestants’. In one of the first big emotional moments of the show’s tenth season, first-year judge Jennifer Lopez had to break it to fan-favorite contestant, Chris Medina, that he was no longer in the running to become the next American Idol. After breaking the news to Chris, Lopez broke down into tears while the other judges, Stephen Tyler and Randy Jackson, consoled her through this difficult time. The incident begins at the 3:27 mark on the video below:
Now, don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for Medina, and I definitely understand Lopez’s difficulty with having to reject so many people every week. I almost thought she was going to pull something like Sharon Osbourne tried to pull on “America’s Got Talent” nearly four years ago. Anyway, I’m sure the constant rejection-giving can get a bit exhausting and take a toll on the spirit, but I feel like the drama surrounding the judges has eclipsed the competition surrounding the contestants.
This is all a public relations strategy to get more people interested in the show. It’s kind of brilliant when you think about it, actually. Viewers think that they are turning their TV on to watch a singing competition, but what they mostly get is celebrity drama, and they don’t even realize it while it’s going on!
When this show started ten years ago, it was about the contestants. That’s what made the first season so good (and is probably why Kelly Clarkson is still the most successful “Idol” winner). But over the years, the show’s focus has shifted to the judges and their drama. There were rumors of fights between Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, there were emotional moments that mainly focused on the judges, and it was all about what the judges had to say. The contestant’s slowly became background noise.
Sadly, I still think this is the case with the show. When Cowell announced his leave from the show, all the drama last summer centered around who the new judges were going to be, and now with this latest episode, Lopez is getting all of the news headlines rather than Medina. I think it’s all an effort for Fox to promote the show since this season has significantly lower ratings than previous seasons. I don’t think Lopez faked crying; obviously she was really upset. But I think Fox is exploiting her breakdown to increase ratings when it should be focusing on Medina’s emotions after being told he did not make it into the top 24.
Maybe I’m being too critical of Fox’s desire to exploit emotions all for the sake of good public relations. I mean, isn’t that all “American Idol” is really? It’s just a show about people being emotional and crying, which tugs at the heartstrings of America. Barf. Either way, I think the show needs to get back to what really matters on the show: the contestants. I’m hoping that once the final 12 are chosen, the show will focus more on them and less on what the judges are doing.