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Talent Vs. Sob Stories: What Do ‘AGT’ Viewers Really Want To See?

Jill O'Rourke

Jill O'Rourke


Anyone who watches AGT on a regular basis knows that it’s big on what some call “sob stories.” Frequently, the show focuses on the struggles a contestant has faced just as much (if not more) than their talent.

It’s nothing new, but many viewers are tired of the show trying to earn their sympathy, and just want to watch talented people do their thing. Fans on Twitter and YouTube have shared their thoughts on the matter.

Dancer Amanda LaCount auditions for “AGT.”

Are ‘AGT’ Acts Getting Through On Sob Stories?

While some viewers are inspired by the emotional backstories many contestants share during their auditions, others would rather focus on their talent. Dancer Amanda LaCount was one act from this week that had fans (and judges) divided.


Before her audition, the dancer spoke about being rejected for her size. The judges were split over her performance, with Heidi Klum hitting the red buzzer and Howie Mandel arguing that it wasn’t a “million-dollar act.” Simon Cowell, meanwhile, praised Amanda for her talent.

The audience ended up pushing Howie to vote yes, but some fans think Amanda got through more for her story than her talent. One YouTuber argued that there was “nothing unique” about her routine, and she got a “pity pass.”

A Twitter user, meanwhile, shared that if the act had been presented without the story, Amanda may not have gotten through. They urged the show to “get back to true talent.” Another Twitter user agreed with Heidi and said Amanda was voted through because “everyone felt sorry for her.”

Singer Cristina Rae receives the Golden Buzzer from Heidi Klum on “AGT.”

What Do The Golden Buzzers Have In Common?

One area of AGT where some fans have a particular issue is the Golden Buzzer. Very often, the acts who receive this honor have an emotional or heartwarming story to share that makes the moment extra inspiring.

Viewers have tweeted their boredom with this trend, pointing out that all of the Golden Buzzer acts this season (Voices of Our City Choir, Roberta Battaglia, and Cristina Rae) have had stories like this — and they’ve all been singers.

Some viewers argue that emotional stories should “enhance your chances” without being the main reason a contestant is chosen. Others say it earns contestants “sympathy votes.” One fan even mentioned that last season’s Golden Buzzer, Cristina Rae was undeserving of the honor completely, pointing to her story of being homeless as the reason Heidi hit the buzzer.


“She didn’t deserve that golden buzzer. She only got that golden buzzer because of her sob story,” wrote one YouTube commenter. “Not surprised honestly since people don’t get golden buzzers for talent anymore. People get golden buzzers if they can make the judges feel bad for them.”

What do you think? Should the show put less focus on contestants’ backstories? Do you think some acts are voted through based on emotion over talent? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Author

Jill O'Rourke
Jill O’Rourke is a contributor at Talent Recap, writing news stories and recaps for shows like ‘AGT,’ ‘The Voice,’ and ‘American Idol.’ She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and Film Studies, and has been writing about pop culture since 2012, with previous bylines at Crushable and A Plus. Jill spends her free time binge-watching sitcoms and daydreaming about life as a hobbit

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