Nicki Minaj is the only reason to watch American Idol

American Idol is in its Hollywood round, and there is only one reason to watch: Nicki Minaj. While even Hollywood is the same-old, same-old, Nicki’s comments are the one bright spot.

Nicki is an improved version of Simon Cowell with some Kara DioGuardi, Steven Tyler, and Jennifer Lopez added in. She’s insightful, direct, witty, and unflinching. It’s no surprise the editors are using her comments so frequently. “You are too complacenet now,” she told Idol’s first openly gay contestant, Papa Peachez. “I’m pretty sure that flame is now completely burned out. I’m so disapponted. … I can’t believe you allowed this competition to just suck the amazing quality out of you.” Ouch.

But I really loved her smack-down of Glee Project contestant Matheus Fernandes, who lied that it was his “first time playing with a live band like that,” which he totally did on the Oxygen competition when he performed for Ryan Murphy. He insisted on Twitter that he didn’t perform with a live band, but here’s more footage of him doing just that. (Update: In a vague Facebook post, Matheus says that he isn’t lying because “LOTS happens behind the scenes to an extent where the audience is NOT very aware of all circumstances.” So I guess that means the band was fake or not live, but he’s not willing to just say that?

Nicki didn’t call him out for that, but instead made good on her promise not to just send people through based on their sad stories, telling him, “Sometimes things can go from being inspiring to becoming you wanting a pity party. Once you’re great, we don’t even notice your height. You don’t have to milk that ever again. Ever. Be you, be great, and just rest in your talent after today.”

With comments like that, what are the other judges even getting paid for? Does Mariah Carey do anything other than shake her head and look exhausted? Or was everything she did just not worthy of being included in the edit? Either way, she’s nearly useless as a judge. And Keith Urban is flat and lifeless.

Whoever cast Nicki Minaj should get a raise, and the other judges should give their checks to Nicki for making the show more than just dead air.

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.