Why American Idol?

20 Jan

I feel I watch TV with discernment. I’m hooked on Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Dexter. I loved Arrested Development, Freaks & Geeks and Better of Ted (may they rest in peace). I’m all about NBC’s night of comedy (esp. Parks & Rec and 30 Rock) and I love Fox’s Modern Family. Really, I’ve allowed a relatively small amount of reality TV into my watch-worthy fold. Ok, I watched a season of The Mole, but it was a slow summer! Anyway, I compliment my own awesome TV taste to announce (read: defend) my addiction to American Idol. As I sat through the (2 hour, commercial packed) 10th season premiere last night, I tried to figure out why I’m drawn to this televised talent show and less importantly but equally as vexing, why I don’t have a DVR player? Read on to see what I’ve come up with so far.

Not the Music

Well, it’s not the music per say. I haven’t bought an Idol’s CD since Kelly Clarkson (and I totally stand by that decision. “Since U Been Gone” = Magic). In fact, I rarely ever vote and I never download the singles on iTunes. Nope! The addicting aspect of the music for me is waiting to see what song each contestant picks each week, and what they do with the song they pick.  Will they refresh a Motown classic? Will they rock up a country song?  Or will they go for the boring and predictable – not forgetting to end with that ear splitting glory note? I’m a fan of understated voices and those are slowly but surely making more headway on the show. So, it is the drama of possibility that gets me to “dial” in week after week.

Not the Overhyped Sob Stories

I get tired, and quickly, of the overly produced sob stories the show loves to highlight. By age 25, I bet most people my age could cite a parents’ divorce story, a near-death experience or a loved one’s brush with cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to downplay these experiences. I’m just not a fan of using these to get ahead. The stories that I love come from the people who genuinely wouldn’t have had a chance in the music industry unless American Idol discovered them. I get goosebumps when I see someone finally living it up on stage when they could barely look at the judges at the beginning of the season. Maybe, to use a tired Idol phrase, I do appreciate a true “Idol Journey.” (finger to back of throat)

Not the Official American Idol Site

One thing that I’ve discovered in the last couple years is the vast number of Idol reviewers on the interwebs. Some are quite entertaining, and the only way you can snicker along with them is actually watching the show.  My favorite used to be Michael Slezak of Entertainment Weekly. He had a genuine love for the show, but he always watched with a grain of salt. I just found out he left the magazine, so I will have to wait and see how the new EW reviewer tickles my fancy. But there are a multitude of others out there: The AV Club, Vulture, and even Yahoo! all have dedicated writers for the show.

Not the Judges

I never watched the show for the “superstar power” of the judging panel. But I will say that I am interested to see Tyler and Lopez in a live setting. That is the true test of judging talent; can they keep it short, pithy and insightful? And will Randy Jackson expand his “dawg” invested vocab? Only time will tell. And I guess, fine, I am interested to see how it all turns out.

So there you go: why I watch and will keep watching. Anyone else inexplicably addicted? Let me know why, so we can all suffer together!

Until tomorrow!

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