Show: “American Idol”
Reel Rating: 3.5 of 5 Reels
Airtime: Wed., 8 p.m. ET on Fox; results show Thurs., 8 p.m. ET
FCC Rating: TV-PG
Genre: Competition, Reality
Cast: Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban
Ok for Ages: 9+
I admit this household hasn’t watched “American Idol” faithfully in its entire 12-season run, but we decided to get back on track this season. It’s been worth it. My whole family (hubby and two teenagers) loves tuning in each week to see the performances and cast our votes. The talent is amazing, and it’s been a while since a female has won (the last was Jordin Sparks in season six). That’s a sure bet this year, because the boys were all booted out early on.
Here are the top five girls in season 12 – from left to right, Angie Miller, Candice Glover, Janelle Arthur, Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb.
There are other talent competition shows — “America’s Got Talent,” “The X Factor,” “The Voice” and others — but there’s something about “American Idol” that feels comfortable. Ryan Seacrest is one of the best hosts on TV (such a natural!), and he just seems to know what to say at the right time — even during those awkward moments. In fact, one night during the auditions, I tweeted, “New Show: Small Talk with Ryan Seacrest,” and he (or more likely, his people) retweeted it and I got a bunch of new followers. He really does know how to make small talk with the judges, the contestants and their families.
But Ryan isn’t the only reason I like “American Idol.” The show keeps revitalizing itself to keep it current, like adding different judges through the years and offering more ways for us to vote, like their new iPhone app.
Ok, that totally sounds like a commercial for the show, and if there’s one annoying thing about “American Idol,” it’s the rampant product placement, from contestants driving Fords everywhere to the bright red Coca-Cola glasses on the judges’ table. But I understand that these shows don’t run themselves — they need sponsors, and the show is doing an ok job of blending them in here, there and everywhere. I kind of miss the fun Ford commercials the contestants have done in the past, so I’m all for bringing those back.
As far as the show itself goes, it tells kids that if you have a dream and work hard to make that dream come true, it can happen. On the flipside, it also shows that even if you’re not the ultimate winner of a big talent competition (or whatever your dream happens to be), you still have control over your own destiny and can make things happen. Just look at the contestants who didn’t win, and yet went on to have great success in their careers, like Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Katherine McPhee, Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry and Kellie Pickler.
On the judges, I actually miss Simon Cowell’s straightforward critiques, though there’s no doubt he could be harsh at times. This year’s judges — Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj — are an interesting group with a diverse fanbase that appeals to a lot of different people. It’s fun to get to know the personalities of these stars that we otherwise don’t get to see, and I appreciate that they really seem to want to help the contestants get better, not just in their singing, but also the emotional aspects of having a career in show biz.
Sometimes, life in the spotlight is not all it’s cracked up to be, and sometimes, it exceeds all expectations.
Parents Should Know: “American Idol’s” TV-PG rating is mostly on target, though the auditions can venture into TV-14 territory when the rejected contestants respond with bleeped obscenities, weeping, hand gestures and sometimes even physical violence.
But host Ryan Seacrest tries hard to keep the show upbeat and family-oriented. Sometimes the judges fight, which I suspect is choreographed and edited to bring more buzz to the show. Also, the judges’ feedback can be harsh and unforgiving, though it’s much gentler than the Simon Cowell days.
Once contestants make it onto the show and start working with a stylist, their outfits are generally well put together. But during the auditions, they often wear sexy or inappropriate clothes (remember “Bikini Girl”?) and even flirt with the judges at times. The female judges’ clothes can be a bit risque, too.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great show!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.