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American Idol's "comeback" twist bringing back a 2020 contestant creates controversy -- as expected

  • “Last night you picked your Top 9,” Monday's show began. “But there’s room for one more.” Idol revealed that Season 19 will devote one slot in the Top 10 to a 2020 contestant as a  way of making up for last year's COVID-impacted season. “These kids didn’t get their big moment in front of the audience,” judge Luke Bryan explained. “And you know what? We feel like that is kind of unfair,” Katy Perry added. “Plot twist!” But judging by Twitter reactions, the twist ticked off a lot of Idol fans. “This isn’t fair to this year’s contestants, someone had to lose a spot in the Top 10," one Idol fan tweeted, according to The Washington Post. “This is so wrong and unfair to the new contestants, the three that went home last night were robbed," added another, while another wrote: “This is a HORRIBLE twist and completely unfair to the contestants of this season. … This is one of the worst things you guys could’ve done, especially this late in the game.” As Emily Yahr notes, the frustrated fans "made valid points. It’s the same reason there’s frequently an outcry when other reality series with a competition element, such as The Bachelor or Big Brother, bring back cast members from past seasons. It may theoretically help the show’s ratings if viewers tune in to see someone they have enjoyed before, or just to witness the drama. But it’s simultaneously frustrating because the contestant already has a clear advantage, given they know all of the tricks from the show from their first appearance...The show presented the comeback as a 100 percent amazing opportunity. ('I want to say this to you and to all of the alumni coming back in: To make it to this point, you already won,' judge Lionel Richie told Faith Becnel, who placed in the Top 20 last year.) Yet there’s no way producers didn’t know that it would spark controversy. Of course, that is generally the exact point of the polarizing TV twist. A move like this may delight some and enrage others, but at least people will be talking about the show — especially the further the comeback contestant makes it in the competition."

    TOPICS: American Idol, ABC, Coronavirus, Reality TV