American Idol – Why I Think It’s Failing

I am by no means a regular American Idol fan.  The last season I watched with any regularity was the first one.  And that’s just because it was on during the TV slow period of the summer.

This season, the ratings have been in free-fall.  It’s not unusual for ratings to decline.  But season 9 has seen a steep drop in the ratings for a show that was once a power house.

I’ve seen a lot of speculation that the ratings are in decline because Simon Cowell is leaving the show.  But this explanation doesn’t make sense to me.  I would expect more people to tune in to watch Cowell’s final season.

A big part of the reason Idol is shedding viewers is obviously the contestants.  This year’s crop of wanna-be Idols just wasn’t that compelling.  Last night the who limped its way to a final two we all saw coming months ago.  But even though Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze are clearly the best of this bunch, neither of them makes a very compelling TV personality.

Speaking of TV personalities, let’s talk about host, Ryan Seacrest.  Or as I like to call him “the luckiest man alive”.  Seriously, what talents does this guy posses?  His jokes are unfunny and often times uncomfortably so.  And his interviews are painfully awkward.  Sure, Lee DeWyze can’t give a coherent answer under the best of circumstances.  But I’d be hard pressed to answer most of Ryan’s dim bulb questions too.

It has been announced that next season the results shows will be trimmed from an hour to a half hour.  This is the smartest thing the producers of Idol have ever done.  I have never watched an American Idol results show without reaching for the remote to fast forward.  They are bloated by reality TV standards.

Trimming the length of the results show is a great start.  But there’s still a lot of fat to trim if you want to return American Idol to greatness.  The show should focus more on the contestants and less on “banter” between Seacrest and the judges.

For the most part, the judges’ comments are pretty meaningless (and often just plain nonsensical).  Even the judges themselves seem bored as Randy trots out “dawg” and “you did your thing” after every performance.  And if I have to hear Kara tell one more contestant that they are “what this show is all about”…

Of course, if you’re going to shift the focus away from the prima donna host and judges, you’ve got to have some contestants worth showcasing.  If Idol can’t do that, it can expect another ratings nose-dive next year when it loses it’s best known (and usually most entertaining) judge.



Posted on May 20, 2010, in TV and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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