Brace yourself, because we’re about to say something we never, ever imagined we would: Sanjaya was not – we repeat not – the worst performer on AMERICAN IDOL last night. In fact, while it won’t be hard to find contestants deserving of placement in the bottom three, the same can’t be said of the top three. The real question here is not who will walk away a winner when this season wraps up, but whether the Fox franchise – which has propelled the network to the top of the ratings – has been permanently damaged by Sanjayagate.
The fact is, no matter what happens to Sanjaya, the show will take criticism. If he – heaven forbid – walks away a winner, critics from Atlanta to Zimbabwe will declare him the nail in the proverbial coffin for the show, which will lose all credibility. But if the lackluster-at-best singer is suddenly eliminated in the next week or two, accusatory eyes will turn to the producers and near deafening accusations of vote manipulation will be launched in their direction.
Talk about your lose/lose situation.
In the end, however, IDOL’s producers have only themselves to blame. During the audition process, time and again mediocre singers were put through at the expense of those who were obviously far superior. Why? In an obvious attempt to incorporate what might be called the William Hung factor. You can easily imagine the closed-door meetings in which it was decided that if bad singers are entertaining during the audition process, imagine if several were put through to the actual competition stage.
Unfortunately, instead of one or even two klunkers, we’ve wound up with an almost universally bland cast of characters – and make no mistake: As with any reality series, they are characters as opposed to actual human beings.
At this point, the show is maintaining its status as a blockbuster… and one can’t help but assume that this is due, at least in part, to America’s fascination with Sanjaya: What song will he butcher next? More importantly, what will he do with his hair and how will the judges react? But when all is said and done, it seems inevitable that this eventually will become known as the season that IDOL jumped the shark, and the producers will have no one to blame but themselves for having chummed the water with Sanjaya and his equally untalented brethren.