"American Idol" isn't having its best year. First, the once-unstoppable Fox institution experienced a 23 percent dip in ratings during Season 11. Then its two superstar judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, quit last week, leaving the show in a state of flux. And now, for the first time ever, "Idol" has been snubbed in the Emmys' Outstanding Reality-Competition Program category. That's gotta hurt.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that "Idol's" biggest rival program, "The Voice," was nominated. Ouch.
Well, at least "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe can take solace in the fact that his other (better) show, "So You Think You Can Dance," quite deservedly earned an Outstanding Reality-Competition Program nomination, for the second year in a row--and that "The X Factor," the show helmed by his arch nemesis Simon Cowell, was passed over entirely. "Idol" emcee Ryan Seacrest also received a nod in the Best Reality Host category--and with "Survivor's" Jeff Probst, who has won that award every single year, surprisingly not nominated this time around, 2012 may finally be Seacrest's year. That'd at least be a consolation prize for "Idol."
But even if Ryan wins, it doesn't bode well or look good for "American Idol" that it was overlooked in this important category at a crucial and unstable time in the show's history. But is this shut-out really a surprise? Well, yes and no. Considering that "Idol" has been in the running for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program every year since the category's inception in 2003, it did seem to be a given that it'd get a pat-on-the-head nomination this year, too. But let's face it, Season 11 was so not "Idol's" best showing. Yes, the talent was there, but viewers were repeatedly turned off by a season packed with desperate gimmicks: the last-minute reinstatement of "surprise" bonus semifinalist Jermaine Jones, the distasteful on-air disqualification of Jermaine only a couple weeks later, the inexplicable presence of Tommy Hilfiger and his weird Erika Van Pelt makeover, the overly dramatic and possibly even staged saving of Jessica Sanchez, the constant pimping and "leaking" by TMZ, the constant J.Lo/Casper Smart PDA. Apparently, Emmy voters were unimpressed as well.
As for which of the actually nominated reality shows--"The Voice," "SYTYCD," "The Amazing Race," "Dancing With The Stars," "Project Runway," and "Top Chef"--should snag that shiny golden Emmy statuette, it'll probably go to "Race" for the umpteenth time, but I'd love to see "The Voice" get a shot, since I have long argued that it is, in many ways, superior to "Idol." (I'd at least like to see a new Emmy cat-egory, for Outstanding Reality-Competition Mascot, be created, so that Cee Lo Green's beautiful rented feline Purrfect would have an excuse to attend the ceremony in a gorgeous Van Cleef & Arpels diamond collar.)
But, barring any write-in opportunities to include the grossly overlooked "RuPaul's Drag Race" and "The Glee Project," the award should really go to "SYTYCD," the best talent show on television. "SYTYCD" has endured its own ratings struggles lately, and an Emmy victory for the show (or for worthy second-time Best Host nominee Cat Deeley) would pretty much ensure a renewal for a 10th season.
And as for whether "American Idol" gets a chance to be nominated next time, that'll obviously depend on how Season 12 pans out--and, presumably, on which judges and producers are in charge next year. Perhaps this Emmy snub is an indication that Fox execs are indeed right to want to drastically retool the show for 2013. Let's hope they make the right choices. So good luck, "Idol." You're going to need it.