American Idol’s desperation leads to a life or death cliffhanger, cut off by some DVRs

For weeks now, American Idol has been teasing a contestant’s fall from the stage. And during Wednesday night’s first Hollywood week episode, that continued, with Ryan Seacrest’s voice-over suggesting this could be life or death for the teenage auditioner. How spectacular! Let’s anxiously wait to see if a kid died or not! Injury equals ratings! Clap clap clap!

But in a double dose of failure, the episode ended with 16-year-old’s Symone Black fall–making it another cliffhanger. Yes, that’s how respectful the show is of viewers: not at all. They don’t give a shit about your time as long as you tune in, and that’s as insulting as it is predictable.

In perhaps some perfect irony, that took place just at or after 9 p.m. My DVR cut off during her performance. Others reported the same thing on Twitter and elsewhere. I’m not sure if that was another ratings-grabbing strategy or just an accident. The final moments are on YouTube, and show her stumbling before falling off the stage, where a crew member almost seems to catch her. Dramatic music accompanies shots of people gathering around her and other people looking horrified as executive producer Nigel Lythgoe calls for a medic.

After that aired, Nigel tweeted, “I know you’re all going crazy. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow. That’s why I’m a mean producer.” And, as I replied, why they’re losing viewers. He even joked, “It’s not a “cliffhanger.” She didn’t hang, she fell.”

Oh! How funny! A joke! Get it?! She fell off completely! Bravo, Nigel, and Bravo Fox! You know how to produce television and make jokes no one else! Yay!

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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, 37, 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.