5 Reasons You’ll Be Watching ‘American Idol’ Tonight

American Idol Judges 2011American Idol makes its return Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, and if you’re like me you approach this day from two different angles. First, you’re excited the show coming back. You start inviting people over for snack foods to nibble while you proudly throw snarky comments towards the little people on TV.

Then comes the shame. You are actually excited for American Idol. You went to college; you have a degree; you pay bills and take your dog to the vet; you’re a grown up. How could this be you? (Okay. Maybe that’s just my dilemma, but just go with it.) The third step is acceptance. Yes, you happen to get excited for American Idol. So what. It’s just who you are.

And to help you get that point of acceptance, I’ve compiled a few reasons you definitely shouldn’t miss the premiere out of embarrassment. Besides, it’s not like your house is bugged. If you’re that embarrassed, maybe just don’t Tweet or Facebook or Tumblr about every little thing you’re doing – it’s just a two-hour show.

1. You secretly love the audition rounds we all complain about.

By the time we get to week three of the auditions, we’re a little weary and ready to move on to the part where we get to vote, but you’ve got to admit the first few episodes of auditions are always fun. The judges are fresh and full of quips. We’ve had enough time away that Randy’s “yo dawg” and “____ is in it to win it” catch phrases aren’t annoying yet. Plus, we get a mindless couple of hours to watch plenty of people make fools out of themselves. I used to feel bad about the mockery, but there have been 10 Idol cycles at this point – these people know exactly what they’re getting into.

2. Your other 8 p.m. choices are Whitney and One Tree Hill.

One Tree Hill should have sung its swan song two or three seasons ago and Whitney is the kind of show you have on while you finish making dinner. Just do yourself a favor and don’t resist the Idol temptation so much that you turn to one of the alternatives. Just watch the auditions, and thank me later.

3. You enjoy the delicate balance of pretending you don’t care about a contestant’s backstory while secretly choking back tears.

We’re all big saps at heart. That’s why – even though the series is totally exploiting personal tragedies for ratings – when we see a talented contestant who’s overcome bullying or bad parents or some other disaster, we’re secretly enthralled by every word (and every note). Of course, we’d never tell anyone that.

4. Ryan Seacrest messing with contestants’ parents while their children audition is accidental comedy gold.

I don’t think Seacrest knows why many of us find him funny. Or perhaps he does, but he just doesn’t care. His attempts at jovial, humorous conversation with parents as they wait outside the audition room is always awkwardly entertaining. It’s often like they’re carrying on a conversation while being separated by a Plexiglas wall – the interviewees never seem to be able to get on the same page as Ryan, and he either doesn’t notice, doesn’t care, or he knows how much this dynamic makes us giggle.

5. Steven Tyler.

If you read our recaps last season, you know that I’m a new Idol convert and that my sponsor is none other than the raspy rapscallion himself, Steven Tyler. There’s no Simon-reincarnate on the new Idol, but the show doesn’t need one. Tyler’s got the shock factor covered by virtue of his complete insanity. His commentary rarely makes sense. (See: “One hand clapping!” or “I’ve never hear anybody squeeze that song, but you squeezed it so slow it sounded like vanilla fudge singing ‘Eleanor Rigby.’”) Even if the contestants fail to wow us, Tyler will always be there to stop us in our tracks, make us guffaw and occasionally charm us.

Why else will you be watching Idol? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter (@KelseaStahler), and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our full recap of the season premiere!