Tonight on the Lifetime Very Special Movie

American Idol

by Michael Landweber

9 February 2010

American Idol has never been accused of being subtle, particularly during the audition weeks. But the number of sob stories being foisted on viewers this season has gotten out of hand. And, yes, I’ve made a list.

This week on Lifetime, the story of a guy/girl who overcame disability/disease/hardship to reach a lifelong dream of auditioning for American Idol and getting that golden ticket to Hollywood.

So far this season, I’ve felt like I’m watching that TV movie promo over and over. Nearly every decent singer that has gotten airtime so far seems to have a tragic tale to tell. It has happened more during the auditions this year than any season in the past, so far as I can tell. The I’m-a-special-person music starts to play, letting us know that the judges will be putting this person through before a single note is sung. Then, the pre-packaged video montage of their sob story. Oh, and if you didn’t get the point, next comes the interview where they actually sob.
Look, I’m not a heartless schmuck—well, not usually anyway. Really, though. Disease!  Divorce!  Disability!  There’s a point where fatigue sets in with all the drama. Or, should I say, Drama!  Usually, I find the bad auditions cringe-worthy; this is the first year I’m feeling that way about the good auditions too.

As a public service, I’ve catalogued all the ailments and misfortune from this young season so far. The cumulative effect is that I don’t remember anything about any of these singers other than the logline for their TV movie. I don’t even recall which are guys and which are girls, so we’ll just stay gender neutral.

  • The One who is a dockworker from the projects
  • The One with Tourette’s Syndrome
  • The One whose parents are divorced
  • The One who had leukemia
  • The One whose parents were involved in gangs
  • The One who bounced around in foster care
  • The One who has a kid with autism
  • The One who is partially paralyzed
  • The One who has been in jail
  • The other One whose parents are divorced
  • The One with the sick kid, dead dad and traffic ticket
  • The One who nearly died from an asthma attack
  • The One taking care of mom with spina bifida
  • The One taking care of grandma with Alzheimer’s
  • The One with multiple brothers with Down’s Syndrome
  • The One with cancer
  • The One who was kidnapped by mom when he was a child
  • The One who was in a bad motorcycle accident
  • The One who was a preemie baby and whose dad died

I’m relieved to be finally moving on past the audition weeks. I can only hope that a lot of the focus on the backstories will disappear in Hollywood Week and beyond and that the producers will just let them sing.

Good luck with that, right?

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