Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Well, I'm still alive and my brain hasn't turned completely to mush. American Idol is like a trashy novel: It's better when you skim and don't think too hard. I survived my marathon catch-up by fast-forwarding a lot. The first episode on my list was the first round of Hollywood auditions, which I actually found thoroughly engaging, and a little bit interesting, seeing how the kids handled the pressure and the hotel-induced freedom, the bizarre exercise of making them write a song (not what they signed up for at all). Plus, that pretty boy took his shirt off a lot, then made a complete ass of himself in his audition. What more can I ask for from reality TV?

Next up was the group auditions episode, which so bored me that I stopped and erased it after ten minutes. Then we were into the final 32, which is where my skimming technique came into play. Contestant's background? Don't care. More than one verse? Not necessary. I skipped the results shows entirely and hit the website to see who won. Because Fox needs to milk as much ratings gold out of this thing as they can, and because showing the clips of the bad people's humiliation until the end of time wasn't enough, the cruel producers actually brought some of the nightmare first auditioners into the studio to sing badly live. I hope they got paid.

So now I'm all caught up...and I don't care one little bit. Not even slightly. Well, okay a teeny tiny bit. But mostly I couldn't tell you anything about any of the contestants with a gun to my head. Two of my favorites made it through, but I'm only interested in John as a curiosity (he sounds like Dean Martin, even when he sings Billy Joel), and I only like Amy for her hair. Where's the spark of first season? Where's the guilty pleasure of actually calling in and rooting for an underdog? (I still love you, Nikki!) Where's the heartbreak of Tamyra? The charisma of Justin? The embarrassment of Jim? I'd even take the creepiness of AJ.

The thing is, I felt totally out of the loop last season when I didn't watch the show. It's just become far too embedded in our pop culture. And you know how I love my pop culture! So I feel compelled to give it at least one more week, because a couple of the contestants who made small impressions on me (for being cute or singing songs I like or being named after Star Wars characters) are in the wildcard round. And more importantly (as well as more embarrassing), I hate feeling like I'm missing something.

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