No singing, cliffhangers help American Idol’s ratings rebound and beat Big Bang Theory

American Idol may have figured out the secret to its ratings slide: replace singing with illness and life-or-death cliffhangers.

Thursday’s episode, on which there were no performances and which the mystery of whether Symone Black was killed by her fall or not, increased its viewership from last week’s final audition episode: Fox’s research division reported that the show was up four percent among adults 18 to 49, and 3 percent in overall viewers, going from 17.4 to 17.9 million. That was enough to beat the Big Bang Theory, which has been beating the Fox competition recently.

Hollywood week is my favorite part of the entire process, and although some were upset about the lack of singing, I didn’t really notice or care. The episode was heavy on the melodrama, stoked by decisions producers made (like forcing them to abandon their friends and form groups with people they didn’t know) and also the contestants’ behavior, from fighting for spots to illness. But that was pretty entertaining, and gave moments far more memorable than any we’ve seen so far this season—such as when one contestant screamed, “Get your fucking ass up here if you want to sing ‘Joy to the World.’”

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