‘American Idol’ is a show that essentially needs no introduction. Not only does it feature amateur singers with exceptional vocal prowess fighting it out for a chance at stardom, but the platform has also produced many household names like Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, and Carrie Underwood. Naturally, its impact on pop culture and the entertainment industry is one that cannot be ignored. Having said that, there is one question that seems to be on everyone’s mind – is ‘American Idol’ real, or does it feature moments that are pre-planned? Well, we decided to unravel this mystery for you.
Is American Idol Scripted?
Since its inception in 2002, ‘American Idol’ has captivated the fancy of all viewers for an array of reasons. The fantastic performances and the quirky chemistry of the judges leave us wanting more each week. With every passing year, the show solidified its place on our TV line-ups. However, in 2015, Fox canceled ‘American Idol’ after 15 seasons, only for it to be eventually revived by ABC in 2017.
Consequently, some changes were made to the format of the show. Most notably, the segment where the less-than-average singers would be mocked was removed. It showed us that the show’s producers are keeping up with the times, with showrunner Trish Kinane stating, “We want the humor, but we don’t want the exploitation.” Considering that such moments used to bring in millions of views, it seems as though the once-pivotal moments on the show weren’t scripted.
Furthermore, at the same 2018 Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, the show’s recurring host Ryan Seacrest said, “What was important to me (about the reboot) was that there were going to be stars on the show that were going to come on to collaborate and take this seriously and give the franchise what it deserves. The legacy of this franchise is important to me and to its fans.”
However, given that the genre is marred with controversies, it would not surprise you to learn that various reports have surfaced, which imply that ‘American Idol’ may not be entirely real. Former contestant Michael Barnum went on the record to state that he had been asked to answer a questionnaire so that the “beginning elements” of his backstory could be worked upon. Furthermore, Ju’Not Joyner stated, “It’s fixed. It’s manipulated. It’s scripted; it’s not a talent competition. They show you who they want to show, and that’s just what it is.”
It would be one thing if just the participants had a bone to pick with the show. However, legendary singer and former judge Mariah Carey vocalized her feelings about her time on ‘American Idol.’ The “Obsessed” singer refused to return to the show, calling it “the worst experience” of her life back in 2015. She explained, “It’s so boring and so fake, I’m sorry. When I say it’s fake, I mean, I have to make up things to say about everybody. Half the time, the performances are good, you’ll just be like, “It was good.””
There is also the infamous Textgate scandal which was all anybody could talk about in the wake of the season 8 finale in 2009. Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, both talented singers in their own right, were the final two participants who faced off to win the coveted title. However, it was actually the former that emerged victorious. But with his triumph emerged another scandal – AT&T, ‘American Idol’s official “communications partner,” gave free mobiles and texting services to some of Allen’s fans who resided in his Arkansas hometown.
However, the official statement put out by Fox claimed that the integrity of the voting process had been kept intact and that the result was “fair, accurate, and verified.” Many speculated it as a homophobic move because Lambert identifies as gay. It is also pertinent to note that Allen learned about the scandal at the same time as many of us.
Keeping all these arguments in mind, it seems as though ‘American Idol’ has had its fair share of highs and lows, especially as far as the veracity of the show is concerned. It is hard to deny the allegations that portions of the previous iterations of the show could have been scripted, but it seems that going forward, ‘American Idol’ plans to ensure that the moments we see on our screens stay as authentic as possible.
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