How Should ‘AGT’ Handle Chris Hardwick In The Guest Judge Chair?

Julia Delbel
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We’ve only got one more episode of America’s Got Talent Judge Cuts before the live show starts, and a lot of fans already have strong opinions on it. This is, of course, due to the inclusion of Chris Hardwick as the guest judge of the week.

This won’t be Hardwick’s first stint as a guest judge on AGT – he was previously one during Season 12’s Judge Cuts and ended up Golden Buzzing eventual runner-up Angelica Hale – but this time there will be a dark cloud hanging over his presence that wasn’t there before. Earlier this summer, ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra published a piece about how she’d been abused by a former boyfriend, and it wasn’t hard to connect the dots to tell she was referring to him.

NBC didn’t make any final decisions regarding Hardwick’s employment right away, but after no evidence was found in a review of the case, the network announced his return as host of Talking Dead and The Wall. It also seems they may have deliberately saved his AGT episode for the latest possible airdate (this isn’t a big deal since we know the Judge Cuts shows aren’t always televised in the order they were filmed anyway) in hopes the case would be cleared before it aired.


Now that it has, NBC seems to be going ahead with the episode as planned before the controversy came to light. But this is a very sensitive and complex issue, and as we’ve seen in similar cases, just because nothing official has been found, it doesn’t mean nothing happened, and it certainly doesn’t mean everyone will be willing to accept him back in the media arms wide open. A lot of fans are outraged at NBC for going ahead with the episode featuring Hardwick (some are even threatening to boycott the episode) while many others are pointing out not airing it would be unfair to the contestants featured in that particular show.

The entirety of the Judge Cuts round was filmed back in the spring before the allegations came out, and I’m sure they would have found someone else to fill his guest judge spot had they been released before the episode’s taping. So I think the best possible way for NBC to go about this would be to edit Hardwick out of the show as much as possible, which would actually be pretty easy to do (we barely even saw Martina McBride during her turn as a guest judge last week). While it’s true Hardwick hasn’t officially been charged with anything, there is a tense vibe surrounding his involvement in the industry right now and it’s clear a good amount of viewers won’t be happy to see him in the episode.

The only time editing Hardwick out might be difficult would be the Golden Buzzer segment, but if they keep the focus on the recipient rather than why he pressed it for them I don’t see why they couldn’t manage to minimize him. (Let’s just hope Hardwick’s pick is less controversial than McBride’s choice of ballroom duo Quin and Misha so the show doesn’t need to have him explain himself with his decision.)


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