A man stands alone, wearing a designer suit and a shit-eating grin. An anonymous skyline occupies the backdrop behind him, imposed on a green screen. On occasion, some scuzzy-looking dude wearing a bikini top pops into frame. For over ten years, that has been the vehicle that delivers bite-sized pieces of TV at its trashiest right into your home, sealed with a snarky one-liner and a kiss.
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With American Idol withering away to obsolescence in its twilight years; The X Factor failing to take hold in the States; and The Voice plateauing into background noise, the moment is ripe for a new singing competition show to ascend to the top (or bottom) of the heap. Something brave and brash and incisive, a new popcultural watershed and bellwether. A show that says as much about what we’d like to become as what we’ve actually become. A show that addresses directly what we (de)value most as a society; that addresses the concerns of what it’s like to be alive right now, in 2013, in America; and, mostly importantly, a show that addresses and answers the singular vital question of how much humiliation and torture an individual is willing to endure for a chance at winning, at most, ten grand.