Warning! The following contains spoilers for the American Idol audition episode that aired Sunday, February 28. Read at your own risk!
Since its reboot kicked off on ABC, I've been pretty high on American Idol's format and how the singing competition has streamlined and improved its process since the Fox years. Removing most of the jokey and incredibly bad acts was a big plus, but the series has leaned pretty heavily on another way to fill its two-hour episodes. American Idol has been bringing out families way more as of late, and I think it's time for the series to cool it.
The latest episode of American Idol was a particularly bad example of this, and the second hour seemed to give every competitor a chance to bring a family member in to share the news and meet the judges. Sometimes, as in the case of Samantha Sharpe and her musically inclined family, the loved ones were part of the act. In other instances, the segments just involve super-jazzed parents like Alanis Sophia's fam, who specifically had a sad story to tell that made for good television.
The problem is, while positive examples definitely exist, American Idol is throwing too many of these moments at us in each episode. After seeing those two, plus Mary Jo Young, Hunter Metts, and others also welcoming their families to meet the judges, I had nothing left to give when Ronda Felton brought her mother out at the episode's end. It was a performance so great that it moved judge Lionel Richie to tears, and yet as soon as Ronda's mom came out to sing The Commodores with him, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at what was probably an amazing moment for her.
I love seeing great singers, and I love that American Idol wants to show me what their personal lives are like. We already have a preview video that details a large chunk of that for every 5-6 minute audition, however, taking the time where another promising Idol competitor could've been shown. Even if these other people aren't making the cut, it would add back a bit more mystery than the 1-2 people an episode who don't make the cut for reasons that feel a little arbitrary.
While I know American Idol likely operated adhering to all the appropriate COVID-19 restrictions, it seems a little odd that the show would make such a spectacle of allowing large groups of family members to hang around and meet people. Obviously, I completely understand the comfort added having a family member or two close by, but keeping them in the hallway would seemingly be the best way to limit exposure to the judges and others on the staff in the freak chance someone was sick. Not to mention saving viewers from yet another segment featuring star-struck parents.