ABC’s American Idol: The Nicer American Idol

In 2016, Fox Network’s “American Idol” came to an end after 15 seasons. When the show ended, there were rumors circulating about bringing it back in 2020. Fremantle Media, the producers of “American Idol”, was not interested in doing so after its low ratings leading up to the farewell episode. Fremantle then made a deal with ABC to bring the show back in 2018 with a new set of judges. The show is now making its return with a second season on ABC in 2019.

ABC’s “American Idol” has the same format as it did when the show was canceled from Fox. However, the reboot is taking a bit of a new approach: encouragement instead of exploitation.

Fox’s “American Idol” was notorious for its original panel of judges. Simon Cowell, in particular, drew in a large audience with his blunt and sometimes offensive remarks. Many viewers of the show looked to Cowell as a source of humor.

When the show made its return on ABC in 2018, it was easy to tell that the mood had changed. The new star-studded panel of judges– Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, brought more uplifting and light-hearted energy to the show.  


“We really encourage them,” Perry told People. “There’s no dismissing and just sending off and saying, ‘You suck.’ That’s not how we roll. I think in the past there was some of that and maybe taking advantage of people; their actual skill sets for comedy. We don’t do that anymore, but we still laugh just as much.”

The judges take a different approach to humor by poking fun at each other, rather than at the contestants. To encourage this, “bad” auditions are no longer aired. The producers have made it clear that they do not believe in exploiting or making fun of the contestants. The screening process makes it so that the judges only see the more advanced singers.

"It doesn't feel comfortable to put borderline unstable people up on stage and laugh at them," said American Idol producer, Trish Kinane.   

The show has also brought more attention to the stories of the contestants. This has given the judges and the audience an opportunity to connect with each singer.

Although the audition process is not as degrading and cut-throat as it once was, not everyone will get a golden ticket to Hollywood. The judges still believe in being realistic with the contestants, as well as giving them constructive criticism.

The minor changes that have been made to the show help bring the focus back to the original purpose: finding the next American Idol.

The second season of ABC’s “American Idol” premiered on March 3, 2019.