There is no arguing with the fact that American Idol launched the genre of the modern TV talent show. I was in college when American Idol hit the airwaves in 2002 and it was must see TV. For maybe the last time families gathered together at an appointed time to see who would win. Now the show is returning and, according to producer Trish Kinane, at the perfect time.
Those early years on the show, “the Simon years”, created superstars. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert and others went on to big careers after the show. Sadly, in its last seasons the starmaking train seemed to run out of steam and American Idol went off the air. Now, revived by ABC and Disney, it is ready to provide good wholesome family entertainment again. Kinane says,
“It’s interesting. The ratings when American Idol went off the air was 2.9 in the demo, and the finale had 13.3 million viewers. And even the average was like, 9, 10, 11 million viewers. That’s not a show that needs to go away, I don’t think! Having said that, I think the two years off has given everyone time to miss it a bit. It’s given us time to just take stock, and also given time for the talent pool to regenerate. Idol is just such a positive show, and it always has been. It’s about kids from nowhere in Middle America. It’s positive, warm, funny, relatable. We want it to be a happy watch.”
I can see the need. Our country is very divided right now and a lot of people are anxious and angry. American Idol provides much needed relief from all of that frustration. The show is definitely taking a more positive spin having eliminated the embarrassing “bad auditions” segments. But they don’t just want to make us feel good, they want to create superstars. Kinane continues,
“The judges’ judgments are fair, I think, but pretty honest. They don’t just say, ‘Hey, that was great,’ when it isn’t great. And yet, they’re not mean. … They think it’s not helpful to tell someone they’re great when they’re not. It’s not kind to say, ‘This is your path,’ if they really think it isn’t.”
Producer Megan Michaels Wolflick says of the judges,
“They’re taking their job super-seriously to actually find a superstar. The legacy of the show is something that comes with a lot — I mean, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson. They’re very clear about that. They want to find a superstar, genuinely, and they’re so excited about it. To have that passion 24/7 is unbelievable with these three people”
I’m sure it’s exactly the salve we need and I can’t wait to see what new talent they discover March 11.