The ratings juggernaut that is American Idol enters its ninth season in 2010 with classic signs of jumping the shark. Questionable talent, personnel shuffling and ratings decline all point to American Idol entering the classic realm of television shows that has jumped the shark. A closer look at the reasons behind American Idol finally showing its age will provide evidence that American Idol has jumped the shark in 2010.
Questionable talent on American Idol
For the last several seasons, the winner has not been as well received as in year's past. Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia and Carrie Underwood are long gone. The most successful artists in the past few seasons aren't even the winners anyway (e.g. Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson). The ninth season has underwhelmed viewers with stale, lackluster performance and cookie-cutter personalities more so than ever before. Either the talent really is substandard or the American listening public is looking for more impact than what these artificially packaged singers can deliver.
The introduction of Kara DioGuardi and elimination of Paula Abdul drained much of the fun and wackiness from the series. This move alone cost American Idol some of its viewing audience in 2010. Ellen DeGeneres was likeable, but seemed miscast in her role of Idol judge and has announced her departure. Simon Cowell seems to still be suffering from Susan Boyle disease and is already concentrating on his next venture with the X Factor. With Simon Cowell already set to bolt from this sinking ship, how long can the boat continue to float? The introduction of new characters as a ratings boost rarely works. Like Cousin Oliver on Brady Bunch, Andrew on Family Ties, or Sam on Diff'rent Strokes this tactic can alienate viewers who see through such an ill-conceived plan with crystal clarity.
American Idol 2010 edition is down in rating from the previous year. It was beaten by the winter Olympics and lost its timeslot for the first time in six years! The ratings decline is relatively modest at around 4%, but that could continue to grow if one or two of the remaining contestants don't blossom into a real musical talent in the coming weeks. American Idol has revealed chinks in its ratings armor and rival stations won't be as fearful to throw more direct competition at it rather than concede the time slot.
The future does not look golden for American Idol. A guest appearance by the ultimate show killer Ted McGinley seems appropriate. Unless some fresh changes are made, this tried-and-true formula will continue to become staler with each passing week. If American Idol has jumped the shark or is merely putting on skis and warming up the motorboat will become all too clear all too soon!