This Is It. The End of the Road. We're Not Gonna Take It. Dream On, television networks. How many song titles must we lazily repurpose as rants before you take the hint? Well, we'll be doing it for a while longer. NBC is taking a page out of Fox's playbook: They've just green-lighted a second reality singing competition called The Winner Is. Now both networks inexplicably have two singing shows and this is in addition to the double order of The Voice NBC drafted for both halves of the 2012/2013 season. And did we mention ABC just jumped into the ring with its less-than-successful competition, Duets? The singing show trend has officially been overdrawn. We're calling it: No more reality singing series, Networks. Please.
Despite our exasperation, it's fairly obvious why TV bigwigs keep demanding these dime a dozen series: They're easy to produce and even the ones that don't perform as well as Simon Cowell predicted they would (ahem, X Factor, you missed your 20 million viewer mark by about 8 million) fare better than droves of toiled-over scripted series. It's simply easy money.
And it may make sense, but we still don't have to like it. NBC's latest reduction of the singing show formula has even more confusing bells and whistles than Duets. Singers and musical acts from all walks of life will be paired together, compete against each other before an in-studio panel, and then either negotiate a cash prize payout or decide to stick it out a bit longer to test their fates. Part Let's Make a Deal, part The Voice, part America's Got a Gong Show Idol, The Winner Is proves that the singing show genre is getting wafer thin.
The first sign was the slow shift to the judges being bigger stars than the contestants — something we can trace back to the days of Idol's Paula-gate and her forever-rumored romance with Simon Cowell. The Voice, The X Factor, and Idol all suffer from similar judge-heavy fates. When is the last time a singing competition produced a true Carrie Underwood-level music idol? Well, that would be the year Carrie Underwood won American Idol (that was 2004!). When was the last time all we could talk about was judge Christina Aguilera's perplexing hairstyle? Last time The Voice was on the air, a few weeks ago.
And now, new singing competitions are taking contestants' fates further and further into the background. Duets pairs singers with big name stars, allowing us to almost forget the unknowns aren't just flashy backup singers in the Superstars' (as they are called) plots to take over television. And NBC's The Winner Is seems to be more concerned with the bells and whistles of the game itself than the actual singers. Plus, it was just revealed that Idol is doling out much more conservative deals for its runners up: It's possible that the runner up this year, Jessica Sanchez, may not even walk away with a record deal, a stark contrast to past seasons of Idol in which being second place was almost as good a deal as winning. The "superstar-finding" series don't even appear to be worried about the actual "finding" part any more.
Still, all these grievances don't seem to be stopping NBC. The network just added The Winner Is, from The Voice creator John de Mol, to its schedule. And the beat goes on... and on... and on.
Will you tune in or have you had enough?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
Duets React: So, Wait. How Does This Work?
Does American Idol Need an Electoral College?
Kelly Clarkson Mocks Idol in Duets Poster