Monday, January 15, 2007

stupid people should not be allowed to produce television

Perhaps it's because I never watched, and thus never got sick of, American Idol, I'm semi-enjoying "Grease: You're the One That I Want," a new talent show that has gotten rather poor reviews. What appeals to me is that the judges have a real decision to make and that they are the people to make it. They are casting a Broadway show and their goal in the first episodes is to make sure all the finalists will do a decent job, because they know that once the American public gets to vote on who should win they will certainly vote for one of the lesser talents, as is always the case in talent shows (like Dance With the Stars) that allow the public to decide who is better at something.

So I think there is something inherently interesting in the show, but apparently the people making it disagree, because they are gimmicking the hell out of it. It's not just the standard gimmicks of showing you the deluded no-talents or building auditions into little stories or having meaningless cliffhangers before commercials in which we are left in suspense and something absurdly trivial; they also use the movie Grease as a crutch, pulling out scenes from it to remind the presumably dim-witted audience what Grease is and interviewing Olivia Newton John.

Which isn't good, but isn't horrible. But Grease manages to stick in a really grating, moronic gimmick, which is to bring its co-hosts in as some sort of audience surrogates. They actually have these hosts standing on the wings, making faces of horror or approval as the contestants sing. It's horrible. It's embarrassingly bad. The hosts will whisper to the camera things like, "who, I hope he gets through, I really like him." To which I would say, who the fuck cares. Do I really need a host to tell me whether a performer is bad or is cute?

And that's the problem with the series. It doesn't trust the audience at all. It thinks they're brain dead idiots. And I'm sure many of them are. But the fact is, the reality shows that show the most respect for their audiences, like Survivor or, in the first couple of years at least, The Apprentice (which seems to be getting stupider and more gimmicky each year) are usually the most successful. The most pathetic, desperate reality shows, the ones that throw a constant barrage of cutesy tricks at the audience, usually die early deaths. Unfortunately a lot of television producers don't get that.

I'm feeling borderline on this show right now precisely because of all the stupid stuff. I am generally inclined to keep watching, but if they keep having the hosts mugging the camera and being "personalities" then I will probably give up on it. Watching this show is going to be a week by week decision.

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