American Juniors
Summer 2003

The Premise - American Idol! But for kids!

It's as simple as that. American Juniors promises to be essentially a more depraved version of American Idol. The program selects from kids between the ages of six and thirteen and searches for the raw singing talent needed ... "to become the next AMERICAN IDOL!" The commercial gleefully documents the world's descent straight to Hades, replete with nine year olds singing their hearts out so that their parents won't beat them senseless backstage.

Can you tell I don't like it?

American Idol is one thing -- it's a healthy outlet for competitive and exhibitionist urges, and more importantly: it's composed of consenting adults. American Juniors displays children left and right, putting them on a soapbox and forcing them to perform. The program loves its ability to showcase these kids, but even more it loves its ability to showcase their parents. The "American Juniors" parents are vicious. The commercial portrays them in the harshest of lights, shouting at their kids and emulating Hockey Dad as "concerned fathers" threaten the judges.

Everyone knows that the appeal of reality TV is the harsh revealing of what life is really like, blah blah blah. All that I can say is that thrusting these eight-year-olds into the scope of the nation is the kind of thing that screws up hundreds of eight-year-olds for the rest of their lives. Imagine the grief that the kids that lose once they make the show will have to go through.

No, screw that -- imagine how much grief the kids that don't make the first cut will have to go through. Thousands of parents living through their kids will go home and maybe take it out on them for the rest of their lives.

Performance parents can be like that. Is it really within the bounds of television's power to screw up so many people?

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