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Please excuse the temporary interruption of my usual green and crunchy blog with this pop culture missive. It’s what I wanted to write tonight, so I am being, as Simon likes to say, self-indulgent.

I’m having a problem with American Idol. To begin with let me say that we never really got into American Idol until recently. We were weird, I guess. My husband and I resisted it forever. We used to laugh at other people who watched it. How could someone care about a television show so much that they would dedicate two or three whole nights of TV to it? (Overlooking the fact that we were instantly hooked by So You Think You Can Dance, which is another two-night show.) And then somehow during season seven we accidentally watched one episode. We cautiously liked it, too. Today we are converts, I guess. Not rabid fans. Casual fans since — I must admit — we are liberal with the TiVo remote. We watch two hours in about 35 minutes. Tonight’s 35 minutes were pretty bad from a singing perspective, but I’m not writing about that debacle. Instead, I’m writing about the bigger problem: What’s going on behind the host table.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me give you more background. The first season we watched the show it was great. We liked the stage. We liked the contestants. David Cook! Syesha Mercado! That stoned-looking guy Jason. (Must admit I was never a David Archuleta fan.) We liked Paula, and how sweet she was. We liked Simon and Randy, too. Great chemistry. Season 8 was weird with Kara being added in. I can imagine how hard it must have been for long-time viewers to accept her since we’re still getting used to it, and we only watched the show for a single season before her arrival. Still, it was okay. But then all hell broke loose and Paula was out and Ellen DeGeneres was in.

And there’s where it started: Swapping Paula for Ellen. I understand why the producers did it that way. Ellen is the Queen of Nice. They needed a queen to take over for the Princess of Sweetness and Light. But while the queen is really nice, you can absolutely tell she’s just being nice because that’s supposed to be her role on the show. She’s there to temper all of Simon’s honest and usually spot-on comments. She’s the professional fluffer of sorts. Just the fact that Ryan went back to her for a comment after almost every one of Simon’s especially brutal comments during the first live shows proves this. But — and here’s my problem — she doesn’t really mean all of what she’s saying. You can tell.

Paula, on the other hand, meant every wacky comment, every “I just loved it,” every raised hands sway. She really did. Maybe she was stoned. Maybe she was drunk. Maybe she was high. Or maybe she’s one of those people who can truly see something good in everyone she meets. But she did. She meant it. So to have to go from that to Ellen, with her striking blue eyes and fake-sincere expressions — nah, I don’t like it at all. It will only get worse next year when Simon leaves and the panel is down to one original judge. (Who I happen to really like, but still…) And so I say this, American Idol: It was nice meeting you. Sure, we’ll stay for a while more but when this season is over, we’re probably out of here. Unless they bring Paula back. Maybe.

Do you watch Idol? Do you agree? Will you keep watching next season? Let’s hear it.

3 Responses to “American Idol and the “Nice” Factor”

  1. I have seen AI once, but it was so out of date that I already knew who won. I did quite enjoy it though. Alas, here we don’t seem to get anything current. I did see Paula, but could not stand her – it infuriated me that she always found something positive – in some cases the glass really was totally empty, and I only know Ellen from a really old series set in a book shop I believe.
    I am however utterly amazed how these reality shows seem to reach everybody in the States. Is it really that good? Maybe I’m just jealous…

  2. MarthaandMe says:

    I have watched every single season of this, first with one child, then with another. I’m finding it REALLY boring this year. In fact. we DVR it and my son and I just fast forward through most of it. It’s not fun anymore without Paula. I adored her craziness.

  3. Lori says:

    I am oddly addicted to the show, but I couldn’t/wouldn’t watch it if it wasn’t via my DVR. I couldn’t bear to let AI rob me of that much precious time.

    From experience, it’s always pretty bad the first few weeks of the top 24 because I don’t know anyone well enough yet and therefore I am not vested in them. By the time the top 12 episodes start up, I usually have a favorite or two which makes watching the show a bit more fun.

    As for the judges; there are so many things to say. I love Simon’s honesty, but sometimes he goes a bit too far in his comments. Is being brutally honest with people at British thing? He can be so crass at times. Kara is a nut bag this season with all the drooling over Casey James. It’s as if she is taking over for Paula. I also liked Paula, but found her ramblings a bit embarrassing to watch and always finding something good to say about every contestant was a bit tiresome. Randy is a good solid judge and very predictable. As for Ellen; I love Ellen. But what I love about Ellen is her stand up and we are not getting much of that so I am not sure I see her value. I do love the way she layers her clothes though. ;)

    In the past I have written many posts about AI and one in particular stands out as something I find myself thinking over and over again. If you are interested you can read it here:
    http://gavintiegirl.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/an-open-letter-to-american-idol/

    I hope you don’t mind the link. :)

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