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American Idol and Survivor – Too Much Power with the Producers

Open up your ears, Harry Connick Jr. -- this guy is a star!

Awards Circuit Staff Writer Joseph Braverman has done an incredible job this year of weighing with the “American Idolrecaps while Mark Johnson has been bringing “Survivorthoughts just moments after the credits roll.  Both shows I watch religiously (thanks to the power of DVR), but both have taken on new realms of uncomfortable traits that’s beginning to steal their own creative life.

Beginning with “Idol,” this past week the top five took the stage, coincidentally taking on the theme “America’s Choice” where fans were able to send in song choices for the competitors to sing (I sent in “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles for Jessica Meuse but she opted for something else).  At the end of the evening, it looked as though both Jessica Meuse and Sam Woolf were on the chopping block.  On Thursday night, host Ryan Seacrest opened the show by saying there is an “Idol Twist” that could shake up the competition.  Immediately I thought that we were in for a shocking elimination like Caleb Johnson or Jena Irene getting the axe, the latter of which would be horrific for the show.  Ryan announces that the top five competitors will vote on whether someone would be eliminated this week.  The vote would have to be unanimous but if they choose to keep someone, then two of them would be eliminated the next week.  Simply put, this was uncool.

After the dust settled, and the commercial breaks ended, three competitors votes “Yes” while two of them votes “No.”  Seacrest then reveals that the person eliminated from the competition is Sam Woolf, the recipient of the one “Judges’ Save” of the season.  Anger erupted in many areas of the internet including Twitter.  It was pretty obvious that the producers attempted to save the “teen heart-throb”  of the season a second time.  It was later revealed that the two participants that voted against the “save” were frontrunners Jena Irene and Alex Preston.  

Listen to them making sense:

Over Idol’s thirteen seasons, they have opted to not send someone home a handful of times.  In Season 2, following the disqualification of Corey Clark, in Season 6 after the “Idol Gives Back” performances (something we didn’t mind), and last year when the “save” wasn’t used, either Amber Holcomb and eventual winner Candice Glover were spared.  We, as viewers, have to feel like our votes count for something.  If the contestants had voted yes on Thursday’s results show, I, and probably half of the viewership would have never voted again.  What’s the point?  The producers are going to what they want to do anyway.  I know they’re desperate for ratings at this point, and I’m on an island that believes that Idol is still so much better than “The Voice” which still hasn’t produced a successful recording artist, and I don’t mind it.

And then we have the fiasco that occurred two weeks ago on this season of “Survivor.”  Over the years they have introduced “twists” that include immunity idols, which hasn’t been around since the beginning, and secret team switch ups, and so forth, but NOW, they have introduced an “idol” with secret powers.  Contestant Tony (who comes from Jersey City, my current hometown), finds this “secret” idol and it is revealed that you can USE the idol AFTER the votes have been read.  What the hell?  Granted, I’m rooting for him (probably more Spencer), but that’s just unfair and takes away everything that is special about Survivor.  And to top it off, Tony found ANOTHER idol (with regular powers).  He assures himself AT LEAST the next two weeks, right up until the Top 5.  The beauty of “Survivor” has relied on #BlindSide and going home with Idols in your pocket.

Both of these shows, arguably two of the best reality shows in the past twenty years, are getting desperate to keep their audiences.  It’s okay to change things up but let’s not change the dynamics of the game that eliminates your audience.

Superstar in the making...SERIOUSLY!

Just to end, my predictions for “American Idol” are a Alex Preston winning moment.  I think his lack of ever being in the Bottom 3, being an artist, and being for the most part pretty solid every week puts him out front.  I believe Jena Irene will challenge him for the top spot and I actually believe the show NEEDS someone like Jena to win to stay relevant.  Caleb Johnson is posed for a shocking elimination, which I believe will likely come next week.  His entire trajectory has been that of James Durbin from Season 10.  Caleb has his first big misstep this past week with “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” the same week Durbin has his first big misstep with “Closer to the Edge” from 30 Seconds to Mars.  Jessica Meuse is slowly becoming the Haley Reinhart of the season.  Stellar vocals, muted praise from the judges, and a fan base that is coming to her rescue.

On the Survivor side, Spencer is looking like the winner based on how the show is currently being edited and if anyone is smart, they will vote him out soon.  If he’s in the final three, he wins hands down, even next to Tasha.

Share some of your thoughts in the comment section.


What do you think?

72 points
Film Lover

Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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