Due to my work schedule, I regretfully found myself unable to couch potato this past Tuesday. And as you know, that momentous night held a reality show/singing competition finale. Scratch that, it was the finale of my favorite reality show/singing competition. One that I have followed religiously for the past few months. One that has precipitated a weird, scary devotion from me.
And I missed it. Sniffle. But my mother watched it, so that’s… ugh.
Life. Sometimes, it’s just so, so cruel. So very unfair.
So why am I upset? Well, for the past few… ahem, years, perhaps… I’ve been a fan of The Voice. My mother knows this all too well, since I’ve made her watch YouTube videos of my favorite contestants and such. I know, I’m such a teenage girl. But admitting that proves my masculinity… right? Shut up.
Anywho (not helping the manly case), my mother and I would chat over cocktails or Arby’s about “my show” when we could no longer talk about Game of Thrones or quirky felines. Well, I would chat. As soon as I said, “so on The Voice this week,” she would sigh, roll her eyes and devour her French Dip roast beef sandwich or extra-salt margarita. On a good day, both.
For years she has ignored me, belittled my taste, sat in boredom as my grandmother and I discussed Blake Shelton’s coaching methods. I have endured it for years. And on the night of the live finale, I miss the entirety of the program. Meanwhile, she’s sitting at home watching Michelle Chamuel and Danielle Bradbury duke it out (I assume). Probably with a margarita in hand, to add salted insult to an already grave injury.
Afterward, I got her review.
“Yeah, I watched the whole thing. It wasn’t that bad.”
It was the most positive review I could have imagined. But for another one, I went to The A.V. Club.
As Myles McNutt wrote in his recent review, “As the finale progressed, there was something strikingly genuine about the whole affair… When you watch Usher talk about what it would be like for Michelle to win the competition, or as you watch how much fun Blake was having playing the goofball with his team, you realize this is fun and meaningful for them.
“The relationships the contestants speak to with the coaches don’t feel like a construct of the Mark Burnett machine, but rather genuine human connections, reinforced when the season’s final image is all of the coaches and the three finalists on stage with winner Danielle Bradbery’s family, as though they’re all part of the same family in the end.”
Or, to put it a bit more bluntly, The Voice is one of “realer” reality shows.
I think that’s why I enjoy it. Whereas American Idol quickly became an empty-eyed shell of it’s former self, The Voice skyrocketed due to a good-natured adhesion to personality. Idol could only survive for so long on schadenfreude. The Voice replaces false sentiment with quirky character and a higher level of signing talent, while keeping an admittedly-false sense of grandeur (it has yet to produce a lasting star, after all). In essence, it has become the pinnacle of singing competitions.
And yes, a pile of manure still has a pinnacle, thank you very much.
The Voice is both different from it’s peers and surprisingly genuine underneath all the makeup layers. Most of the time, the show is packed with good singers of various genres attempting to capture our attention. And like the AV Club’s Mr. McNutt, I believe the people on The Voice are having fun entertaining us. Something about that is pretty infectious.
To be fair, all the bloated corpulence of signing competitions remains on The Voice. Judges are still useless in criticism, you still have “hosts” trying to make a social media footprint, you still have the desperation and predictability and the popularity games. But you also have glimmers of reality beneath the brown sheen of reality TV. Any time a “reality” show has any claim to that word, I consider it praise-worthy.
It’s not perfect, but it’s also not deserving of out-right scorn. “Hating” this show is not fair. It may not be great, but it’s “not that bad.”
And yes, I know you read my blog. I owe you a trip to Arby’s.