I think since American Idol “revolutionized” the whole “send in your text messages to vote” most of America gets involved in the show. Average Joe and Jill like to fantasize about being on the show, and enjoy making fun of the bad contestants. Makes them feel superior. It also helps that the show did make successful pop singers, who get a CRAPLOAD of radio, iTunes, and Yahoo! LaunchCast coverage.
However, I do feel that the show jumped the shark. I don’t think it’s fair to say the show jumped since Day 1 due to the amount of money made and culture impact (for better of for worse).
I can see the argument that Sanjaya ruined it; basically he was a very bad Indian singer that made it very far into the competition due to the Internet Mutants and Howard Stern wanting to have the biggest loser win American Idol, and to get a recording contract. Sanjaya showed how fragile the entire show was.
Having the TV on downstairs I can hear the judges walking on eggshells in making fun of the contestants, perhaps due to the suicide and stalkers of the rejected singers. Last year, they eased up on the insults, too. It amazes me how more people don’t sue or try to kill the judges.
Ultimately, I think the #1 complaint fans of the show have is Paula Abdul. Paula is too nice, too drunk, and just not professional enough to judge talent. Simon…well, I generally hate Simon. Randy Jackson…whatever. They made the right call to inject new blood by getting another judge- Kara DioGuardi, an objective songwriter. Host Ryan Seacrest? He’s always great, of course, although I’m tired of him playing the good guy all the time.
Reading this post, I feel gay. But the fact is that tens of millions of homes watch this CRAPFEST, and I want the hits.
Bottom line: It’s weird to me that this show is not a fad. I would have never guessed how long it would last, especially since FOX usually has shows that last 2 episodes. Then again, The Simpsons lasting 20 seasons is also mind-boggling.