First episode of American Idol 6 was “sad and painful” and “a disappointment”

Ryan Seacrest opened American Idol 6 by pretending we’re all a big happy family, saying, “Together, we’ve created a phenomenon. Together, we’ve changed lives and discovered remarkable talents.” Together, we’ve also laughed at the morons who populate our nation, but not so much last night.

American Idol‘s auditions have always approached the border between humor and discomfort, but they usually stay on the side of humor, keeping us entertained by delusional or attention-starved and camera-hungry people.

Not last night. While it started well, with a woman singing an orgasm, basically, most of the rest of the auditions in Minneapolis were just uncomfortable, and lingered far too long. One contestant spent a few minutes crying in front of the judges, and then the editors made us watch her cry for a few more minutes outside. Worse, rather than take her to therapy, her stupid family members told her, “There’s next year, baby.”

That parade of the truly delusional was not well received by TV critics, nor was the first episode itself. Last night’s show “wasn’t exactly an explosive start to the year. The top contestants weren’t that great, and the bad ones weren’t amusing enough to be worth the energy it takes to mock them,” MSNBC’s Craig Berman writes.

Other critics agree. The show “was for the most part sad and painful,” the New York Post’s Linda Stasi says, and “went from a high-note finale last season to a very sour-note season premiere … with contestants breaking down in real tears of despair. Hello! That’s entertainment? Why not take us to the real dawg pound and watch the dogs get ready for euthanasia.”

And The San Francisco Chronicle’s David Wiegand says the show “was a disappointment — not because it lacked its share of tone-deaf contestants in Minneapolis, but because all three regular judges were either seriously off their game, or have just gotten tired of themselves.”

Midwest proves to be Midworst on ‘Idol’ [MSNBC]
American Tragedy [New York Post]
Grouchy “Idol” Judges [San Francisco Chronicle]

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.