Image Courtesy of Michael Becker, FOX
For those unfamiliar with the phrase “Jumping the shark,” let me explain what it means. It is an idiom that is used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery. The phrase is also used to refer to a particular scene, episode or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of “gimmick” in a desperate attempt to keep viewers’ interest. If that doesn’t describe what is happening to “American Idol,” nothing does. Idol actually began to “jump the shark” on the ninth season in 2010, when they brought in Ellen DeGeneres as the “gimmick” to attract viewers, and we all know how that ended. Well, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse. Entering season 12, producers in their attempt to rescue a sinking ship, have retooled the judges’ panel with pop star Mariah Carey, country star Keith Urban, ostentatious star Nicki Minaj and American Idol stalwart Randy Jackson, who is the only remaining original judge.
Fox is apparently emptying the bank by paying Carey a reported $18 million for one season and Minaj $12 million. Urban’s representatives have not released what he is being paid for his deal. Carey, who is hoping that her career will benefit in the same way as Jennifer Lopez’s did, is at least a legitimate singer with credibility. The same cannot be said for Minaj, who at best is a rapper. Which begs the question: “How can a person who can’t sing judge a singing competition?” Urban also brings talent and experience to the panel, even though the “country singer” addition seems to be an effort to create a team similar to the makeup of “The Voice,” their rival over at NBC, which is fresher and hipper by the way. And you can’t blame Randy Jackson for continuing to pick up a paycheck; he was virtually an unknown to the public before American Idol, and will probably return from whence he came once the show finally runs its course. Which I estimate will be quicker than you can say “Jump the Shark!”