What’s More Staged: Wrestling or AI Results?

Normally I don’t have anything to say about results except for the obligatory “oh what a shame, ethnic girl #452 went home. I liked her more than pretty girl #26 and talented brunette girl #212 that were in the bottom three with her.” But this week? This week there was surprise and craziness, shock and awe, spectacle and real human emotion. Oh yeah, and there were results and this thing called the Judge’s Save, too. From a television standpoint, it was a pretty outstanding and entertaining hour of programming. From an avid (perhaps a little too obsessed) Idol viewer standpoint though, it felt too meticulously manufactured and wholly unsatisfying.

Let’s start with all the ridiculousness that occurred before the lights were dimmed and the results were read and baby locked them doors. As with any good results show, last night’s episode began with a cheestastic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” group medley. I’m a huge supporter of cheesy group medleys, but this one was delivered with a couple extra sides of hot mess. It was an insane trainwreck-y mess that failed spectacularly on any musical level possible, but that didn’t matter because Stevie Wonder was in the house! Stevie Wonder was his usual awesome self and the only thing that could’ve made it better would be a Scotty MacIntyre duet. Because the only thing better than Stevie Wonder after a group sing is Scott MacIntyre in a group sing. Blind guy group medley choreography for. the. win.

Sugarland performed, apparently. I was surprised to learn that Sugarland was not just a different name for Candy Land. That’s probably the most relevant and positive comment I can make about that. Jennifer Hudson also performed one of the world’s most formulaic and least interesting soul songs known to man. Fortunately, she sounds so good that it was nearly worth listening to. The best thing about J-Hud’s performance was learning that George Huff is still getting work – as a backup singer. (You hear that early Idol evictees? Maybe one day you’ll sing back up for the more successful loser who got booted three weeks before you. You can still dream.) I so badly wanted Ryan to split the remaining contestants up in to two groups and then ask George to pick the group he thought was safe. It’s un-American to have Huff back on a results show without Huff-ing him. He’s become a verb! You’ve got to utilize that.

Of course the absolute best part of the night began when Nigel used his Real World mansion for good and showed us a legitimately entertaining clip of the contestants having personalities. And not “I’m just going to be me and I hope America likes me” personalities, either. Real, honest-to-goodness personalities. Granted, these were personalities spurred on by either a love, disdain or incredulousness towards WWE. The video clip included footage of the contestants beating each other over the head with what appeared to be baking trays and pillows. (Admit it, you were all secretly hoping that your least favorite would get knocked out and be unable to continue in the competition. Actually, that might be an interesting twist for American Idol 11. Instead of having the lowest vote-getter “sing for their lives,” they could have a far less fake wrestling match between the lowest two vote-getters to decide who goes home. I mean, I think that’ll probably keep the girls around longer than the current system.)

Oh yeah, and after the wrestling video clip? Ryan began to give us some predictable results about James and Paul being safe or not safe or something when Hulk Hogan appeared. And then James proceeded to absolutely lose his shit on stage and all hell broke loose. I’m not entirely sure what relevance Hulk Hogan has to American Idol. Or why he would ever agree to be on the show. But I don’t even care. He appeared and Stefano’s jaw-dropped, James spazzed out like Paul on performance nights and I’m sure someone got bleeped at least once. It wasn’t just enough for him to appear, though. He had to demolish poor little Sprinkles Seacrest and then feed him to the hungry swaybots lurking below. (I think Ryan got back at the swaybots by putting resident inoffensive cute boy Stefano Langone in the bottom three. Or maybe that was just some power play in the ever-confusing soap opera-like romantic quandaries regarding Jennifer/Marc/Seacrest/Stefano/screaming teenage girls.) Whatever was going on, it was fantastic and entertaining and the stuff legends are made of.

Okay, on to results. The good news for me was that two boys were in the bottom three! And they were the two boys who probably gave the worst two performances last night! America is actually listening to the performances and perhaps voting somewhat based on merit. I am quite possibly Thia Megia’s only supporter on all the internets. I don’t love her, but she’s no more flawed than any of the other random guys who get praised for being horrifically off-key and lurkingly creepy. I don’t think she should’ve landed in the bottom three last night (I’d have put nearly anyone else there before her), but I don’t think anyone in the world was surprised to see her there. She went early and earned tepid praise on a commendable, but unspectacular performance. So after the bottom three was announced I was stoked. (In fact, I might have key-smashed and thrown a few “Hallelujah, praise the lords” in there when Casey was announced to be in the bottom three. Just maybe.)

Then Casey was told that he had the fewest votes and it had quickly become the best. results. show. ever. I was doing figurative backflips and cartwheels and all was once again right with the world. This was the top 11 elimination, meaning there was no way a save could be used because the tour is only the top 10. And there is no top 10 if you use a save on top 11 night (the Alexis Grace conundrum). So yeah, have Casey go through the motions of “singing for his life” and then tell him, sorry bro, but your continual health problems are too much for us to deal with. We might pimp out your back story but we don’t want to have to pay for it. So Casey goes and starts his going-through-the-motions si- what? Wait. You’re stopping him? To save him? He’s saved? Like, I have to deal with him again next week? And they’re all on tour? And Casey is in hysterical fits of god-knows-what and even his happy emotions are making me uncomfortable? And gosh, I don’t even want to touch on what he’s getting ready to do to Seacrest? Why are all these sentences ending in question marks?

In reality, I’m a lot more jaded and was not nearly as surprised by the outcome as the above might paint. I don’t think American Idol is rigged, but I have an extremely hard time believing that Casey Abrams did in fact get the fewest number of votes this week. And of course, the second he did, the realistic side of me knows that Casey Abrams is going to be taken on to that tour. He is going to be saved. They are going to extend the tour to the top 11. It was all great TV, but everything seemed a little too well planned out for my tastes. Everything from Casey being the lowest vote getter (shocker!) to getting cut off mid-song to be saved (dramatic!) to Ryan shoehorning in his spiel about how it’s been pre-determined that in a “situation like this” that the top 11 would all go on tour (heartwarming!) wrapped up into too neat an entertainment package for me. I would probably be singing a different tune if this was Naima who had been saved. But it wasn’t. And I’m biased. So I came out of this episode being mildly annoyed that Casey received the save so early and that the save still exists at all. (In three years, I don’t think the save has done Idol any good. It produces awkward, desperate performances and uncomfortable let downs. It does not produce entertaining performances or prolong the life of any contestan who hasn’t already stayed beyond their best-if-used-by date.) Oh homely bearded ogre, one of these days I will be rid of you and your snarling teeth and your terrifying beady eyes. One of these days…

Next week the contestants sing songs from the 1980s. Stay tuned as two girls walk the plank!

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