So You Think You Can Dance has a lot of things going for it, primarily its exceptional talent. But its now-permanent judge Mary Murphy makes the show fun thanks to her occasional insanity, and helps to make the show better than American Idol.
The Los Angeles Times profiles her, and among the revelations are that her mother has “a laugh twice as loud as mine: first it’s a scream and then a laugh,” she says. Also in the piece, fellow judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe compares her to Paula Abdul, and himself to Simon Cowell. “Murphy is to Lythgoe what Paula Abdul is to Simon Cowell, [Lythgoe] said with a laugh, noting that Murphy is ‘very adept at defending herself and standing out.'”
Ignoring the fact that the non-paraphrased quotation contradicts the paraphrased part–Paula Abdul is adept only at standing out–the comparison alone is very, very wrong.
First, except for his ego and arrogance, Nigel is no Simon Cowell. (In fact, he’s actually much more articulate and interesting; Simon Cowell basically regurgitates the same comments over and over again.) Second, Mary Murphy’s true appeal is that she’s both a smart critic and crazy fun at the same time. When she transitions from her critiques to shrieking, she’s fun; at best, Paula Abdul was primarily entertaining (emphasis on the was; she was excruciatingly boring last season) only when she’s unintelligible.
Lythgoe may wish that his marquee show was as substantive as the show he judges, but there is literally nothing similar about Mary Murphy and Paul Abdul except for the fact that they both occupy the center judges’ chair on a Fox reality competition series, especially because Paula’s substantive comments are about as regular as someone who’s chewed up and swallowed an economy sized bottle of Imodium AD.