American Idol starts the judge shenanigans to compensate for weak singing

If something doesn’t change soon, this is going to be a long two and a half months. The American Idol 9 men’s performances weren’t much better than the weak performances the women gave Tuesday. As with the women, there were a few stand-outs, and perhaps there were a few more attempts at originality, though the always-frustrating judges thought it was too original for, say, Todrick Hall to rework a Kelly Clarkson song.

Because the singing sucked, the show ramped up the judge stupidity, and it’s a little early in the season fro that. Kara seems to have become the new Paula Abdul, which is highly disturbing, because she was a vast improvement over Paula. She and Simon have started to goof around, and Simon seems to be attempting to make Kara laugh like he used to do with Paula, although it doesn’t work quite the same way. While critiquing Tim Urban, Kara mentioned something about people standing up for him, and Simon whispered, “they were trying to leave”; instead of giggling, Kara just repeated it so everyone could hear.

Ellen DeGeneres wasn’t great again, which doesn’t bode well. She was often in disagreement with the other judges, although at least once, she and Simon both liked a performance that Randy and Kara didn’t. She kind of tried to critique the music, but deferred to others, like when she told Michael Lynche that he had “a few little pitch problems that you’re going to hear [about] later.” (Gee, what judge would comment about pitch problems?) That left her to offer Paula-ish critiques, like when she told Alex Lambert, “I like that you’re holding onto the mullet.” At least that was coherent and funny, unlike Paula’s comments on clothes and hair.

Worse, Ellen joined in on some of the judge nonsense, like when everyone gave Kara a hard time about having a crush on Casey. “It was very hard for me to hear. I could feel Kara undressing you with her eyes,” Ellen said. Kara joined in that, too, telling him, “I don’t recognize you with your shirt on,” and saying, “it was hard for me to listen to that–I’m married, honey, I love you.” All of this is innocuous enough, except imagine what it must be like to be the contestant who has to stand there and take this.

Seacrest even joked about its inappropriateness: “Just looking ahead at the schedule, as you know, tomorrow, results, and then Friday is Kara’s HR meeting. It’ll be a two-hour live event,” he said. Kara stepped on the joke and said, “I’ll get a lawyer for that.”

Simon also tried to get things going with Ryan, telling Joe Munoz, “It was all a bit limp, a bit forgettable, rather like our host.” Ryan, incredibly, didn’t take the bait.

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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.