Feb. 15, 2012 at 7:07 AM ET
"American Idol" is generally a tame show, appropriate viewing for all ages. But the group performances in Hollywood are always an exception to that feel-good atmosphere, and never more so than this year.
Group day is when “Idol” channels its inner “Survivor,” studying how alliances form and disintegrate, and pushing the performers to their physical and mental limits. It’s the one time where it lets the audience know how difficult and stressful it is to succeed on the show.
In addition to the usual screaming, crying and contestants failing to play well with others, this season's week in Hollywood also featured medical drama. Symone Black provided the first cliffhanger of the season when she fainted and fell off the stage on the Feb. 8 episode. The situation made worse to many because it came right after DVRs cut off. (This just in: "Idol" does not care about DVR viewers.) Anyone concerned about Black’s health had to wait until the next night to find out she was OK.
That caused much outrage, as did last Thursday’s focus on singers struggling with an illness that made trash cans a hot commodity so people would have something to vomit into. In sickness and in health may apply to married couples, apparently, but not to the “Idol” audience, according to some.
Granted, throwing up never makes good television. But the extent of the "Idol" Plague also shows how deadly serious everyone takes the competition. The hopefuls are clearly desperate not to miss out on their big chance, even if their bodies revolt.
Was any of it a big deal? Not really, but it hearkened back to the good old days when “Idol” could get some easy national attention by making fun of an unattractive auditioner or two. It got people talking about the show for the first time all season, and for things that in the big picture were minor issues.
Black was fine, and in fact made it back later that evening for group night. That was no surprise. Despite Steven Tyler’s initial medical diagnosis, her head did not take the brunt of the fall, the cameraman nearly caught her and it wasn’t a long drop.
Surely, the footage of her fall from grace embarrassed her. But the show has never been shy about making teenagers cry and airing the footage, and if you think about it, that makes sense. These kids really want to succeed and will do anything to get there, even if it means sacrificing their health, sleep and self-esteem. Showing the audience that side of the competition now makes everyone realize what the eventual winner has gone through when the confetti drops in May.
Did you think "Idol" went too far showing Symone's fall and and other contestants getting so ill? Or does it all just prove how much the hopefuls want this opportunity? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
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