Why is a reality TV show so overpowering to people that we think we care about the people on the shows? That we watch week after week and think the people on the screen are like our own family? I stopped watching American Idol a number of years ago (face it, love her or hate her, Paula Abdul was the heart of AI. When she left, so did I).
That said, I do keep my finger on the pulse of Divadom and certainly heard the upset voiced on social media about the voting off of Pia Toscano tonight on AI. The outcry on twitter and Facebook is amazing. It’s as if a member of your family had been done wrong, and you want to know where to find the guy so you can punch their lights out. Some of the tweets:
Was Pia punked ?That is not OKAY! WTF?
I cried so hard when u left. That’s just crazy! That Pia girl is dope!
I am Pissed OFF. I am done with American Idol. Pia Toscano was the mist talented woman to grace that stage.
She did not deserve that.
I have lost all faith in American Idol, can’t believe Pia went home!
America got it SO WRONG tonight … why did you waste the second chance judges???
Yes, folks, we take our television shows seriously. Maybe too seriously.
Musical director for American Idol, Michael Orland, posted this on his Facebook page tonight:
Here’s the deal people – cuz my FB and my phone are going crazy!!!! I never play ANY faves on IDOL – i love ALL the contestants and have been doing so for 10 years now. And at this point of season 10, it’s going to be hard EVERY week to say goodbye to anyone cuz it’s such a strong top 9. But America, i’m sorry to say…. you just got it wrong tonight. Gonna take a while to make up for this one.
Here’s my thought on all of this: reality TV of this type has us too invested in people we don’t know and may never meet! When AI started in 2002, no one knew it would become the behemoth it is today. It was just another show, like Star Search. Because it was so new, we tuned in each week and it was fun to root for the underdog. To see an unknown raw talent like Kelly Clarkson win was magic. We all love the underdog who is so deserving and when they get the prize, it makes us all feel good. Think the Olympics! We watch them because we want that runner to make it to the end, the skater to do the perfect routine, the swimmer to beat everyone to the wall by .0001 of a second. We may not have the ability to do those things, but watching someone else do it lifts us all up.
But AI lost that innocence long ago. Many of the top contenders in the past couple of years have actually been professionals, have had record deals, and the like; everyone seems more polished and ready for their closeups.
I watch very little TV. I confess I watch too much of the news shows at times, but regular sit coms and the like? Not really. I read, walk, enjoy my family and friends and have plenty of social media to tell me what happened last night on CSI or The Good Wife or Celebrity Apprentice. Millions however still tune in each week to AI. It’s tops in the ratings. I don’t get it. Yes, I like rooting for people (see Olympics mention above) but being overwhelmed by a one hour TV show to the point of a feeding frenzy? While I’ve been writing this blog , a thousand tweets have gone by on my feed, all about this last few moments of a reality show.
I love illusion as much as the next person – I’m a big theatre geek – but if anyone thinks reality TV is really reality, well….sigh…you really are living in an alternate universe.
PS I do agree that some amazing talent has come out of AI: Kelly, Carrie, Daughtry, Clay, Jennifer – but those were the early years folks.