'America's Got Talent' recap: Seattle auditions, yes or no?
It gets better after the audition rounds, right?
After my first night (ever) of watching "America's Got Talent," I feel a little like Sharon Osbourne must have felt sitting between fellow judges Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel and mulling the fate of Mauricio Herrera, the polyester-wearing Ricky Martin wanna-be from Costa Rica who shook things up on Tuesday night's show, in which auditions were held in Seattle.
On the one side, the Morgan side, I've got what functions for the occasion as the voice of reason (or cynicism, depending on your perspective), telling me what a bunch of crud it all is, how painful it is to watch, how I really must puncture the foolish fantasies of the pitiably talentless and spare myself (and others) the distasteful experience of sitting through another embarrassing display of self-delusion.
On the other side, the Mandel side, I've got this little annoying imp needling me that I should really give the show a chance, just for the lark of it, just to get a window into the strange soul of America, and OK, maybe just because I will be paid to watch it. And if the show's would-be singers and dancers and people who do impressions of Kathy Griffin doing an impression of Christina Aguilera (I'm pretty sure that's what comedian Melissa Villasenor was doing) dream of fame and a million bucks, I, like its audience, dream mostly of being able to pay my mortgage and health insurance premium on time.
So should I hit that giant buzz-inducing "X," and scuttle the rest of the season? Or will it be a "yes" from me? Will I follow the show through to the Las Vegas rounds and beyond?
Don't get me wrong. I don't for a minute think I'm above it all or anything like that. Lord knows, I spent many, many summertime hours in my youth glued to "The Gong Show," watching the parade of losers doing strange dances and singing "Feelings" off-key. That's a dark part of my past I simply can't deny. I understand why so many viewers would tune in to a show like this in the lazy days of summer, making it a ratings powerhouse. After all, America has a long (though not proud) summertime freak-show tradition.
Also, I had imagined that, like "American Idol," "America's Got Talent" might be a show that my family could enjoy watching (and discussing) together. And so it is with a mixture of disappointment and relief that I report that my 8-year-old son turned to me after watching the show (also for the first time) and made a big "X" with his arms. "What happens?" he asked me. "Do the judges pick [the winner]? I hope not, because the blue-shirt guy from Costa Rica is horrible!" He loved the Kenyan acrobatic troupe, Zuma Zuma, though, and wasn't sure what he thought of the paper horn guy, whose real talent, it seemed to me, was waggling his fake tooth back into place using his lips. (Also, why is a professional Kenyan acrobatic troupe eligible to participate in a talent show purportedly for amateur Americans? Can someone explain?)
In conclusion, America's got talent (or it doesn't), 8-year-old boys have more taste than you'd think, and I have no professional boundaries.
Please post a comment telling me why the show will be worth my while (why I may even come to love it?). I need to know.
-- Amy Reiter