Tonight marks the 10th season of America Idol and while the show is just as popular as ever, this year it’s missing its infamous tell-it-like-it-is judge, Simon Cowell. While families all around tune in, tomorrow the talk in the schoolyard will no doubt center on the lucky and talented few that stand out early in the competition mixed will those poor souls who were utterly hideous and will forever be known as such. Then there will be those crazy stories like Sanjaya Malakar and the unforgettable General Larry Platt’s “Pants on the Ground”? Surely, we all had to tune in to see how Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler would do.
In the past ten years, the show has become synonymous with finding gifted young people who proceed to secure successful recording careers. Most of these young people sing wholesome music that is popular with children, and parents usually have no trouble letting their kids listen to Kelly Clarkson or Jordin Sparks as opposed to other raunchier artists, but is American Idol 2011 still a family show?
It comes on at 8pm, which is a bit late for the younger set, but obviously loads of young kids are tuning in because Kindergarten kids are talking about the show every year. It’s also entirely possible that with DVR, parents are taping the show for their younger children.
I remember a few years ago, when my oldest daughter was younger, we watched the show together and as it proceeded to the later weeks when competition was narrowed down, we voted. It was of the few family shows on TV that we watched that was just fun without being too racy which is rare on popular evening programming. Children can listen along and recognize the good singers from the poor ones. Through week after week progressions, kids witness the hard work that goes into fostering a talent and the sometimes inevitable critiques in life.
It remains a program that kids can enjoy with their parents. Some of the contestants are as young as 15 years old so it’s not a stretch that kids aged 5 or 6 would be interested in watching. Contestant after contestant related stories tonight of how they wanted to be Jennifer Lopez since they were in Kindergarten.
Wondering how Simon’s absence would affect the show, I had my doubts about Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, but the first episode tonight was great. They both brought the experience of being music veterans to the judging table without any mean spiritedness. In this way, the show might be even better for kids to watch.
What I also like are the behind the scene stories, like tonight’s story of 16-year-old Robbie Rosen who was paralyzed as a child and says singing has been his dream since he was just seven years old. Rosen sang a beautiful rendition of the Beatles “Yesterday” and went through to Hollywood unanimously. Another 16-year-old, Melinda Ademi, a war refugee from Kosovo, also got three thumbs up from the judges and is on her way to Hollywood. The most heartwarming story tonight might have been Brielle Von Hugel, whose father was diagnosed with throat cancer and didn’t know if he’d make it to see her sixteenth birthday. The judges had Brielle bring her father to the judging room when they announced she had made the cut.
My son watched the beginning, promptly got tired fifteen minutes into it, asked me to tape the rest and went to sleep. Tomorrow he’ll catch up on who made it through… if he doesn’t hear about it in school before he gets home.
Do you let your kids watch or do you think it’s strictly for the older crowd?