Adios American Idol, Hello All-Stars Edition?

Well it finally happened. Fox execs finally cut the cord on American Idol, and they announced on Monday that the show that brought you everyone from Kelly Clarkson to the Pants on the Ground guy, will be ending next year at the end of its 15th season. FIFTEENTH. Over the past few years, AI has been one of those shows that when you hear about it, you might be like, ‘That show is still on??’ I admit that I fall into the other category, because I’ve more or less watched every single season since the beginning.

American Idol debuted the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, and that summer just so happened to be the same summer that I visited some family members in Los Angeles. Since it was still the first season, I got tickets to the live show fairly easily, and long story short, I was in the audience for the Top 7 performances, I made a sign for *justin*, I was briefly on TV, and I met Mario Lopez (yes, AC Slater). I had to dig deep for this video footage from 13 years ago, but here it is. You’re welcome, Internet.

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started from the bottom… still at the bottom but maybe a little higher (and we’re here)

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that I have a long history with the show, and I used to be a hardcore fan who knew all the contestants’ names and hometowns and went to their concerts and bought the CDs and made YouTube playlists of everyone that’s sung I Have Nothing. I drank the Idol Kool-Aid. That fangirl turned into someone who kept stating to people, ‘I’m not going to watch this season because everyone sucks!’, but still do anyways (this season is actually really good, y’all). So next season will be bittersweet in a way, even though I’m not quite as crazy as I used to be.

Fox bosses said that next year will be a “season-long celebration”, hinting at surprises and appearances by former judges and contestants. To me, that seems like a good deal. One last hurrah and Idol is off to reality TV heaven with The Swan and Temptation Island. But the mention of former contestants got me thinking – there are plenty of aspiring singers who I was rooting for but never made it to the top. Where are they now, and can they get a second chance? While I 100% know this would never happen, maybe a decade from now, Fox can use this idea for an American Idol: All-Star edition and bring back the folks who were so close to winning, but never did. Also to clarify, the people on this list are Idol alums who deserve a second chance at stardom, I.E. you won’t see Chris Daughtry or Jennifer Hudson on this list. Also not on the list: Justin Guarini. While I bet a bunch of Idol losers still eligible to audition will return for the fifteenth and final season, here are some that won’t get to make the cut, but one can only dream.

Kimberly Caldwell

{season 2 – seventh place}

Ok, so with these early contestants, you have to consider their talent with a grain of salt. Production was shotty, people still didn’t know what they were auditioning for, and most times the performance ended up being too *karaoke*. But back in season two, Kimberly Caldwell was better than most. She had a deep, raspy voice that wasn’t as belty as third-place finisher Kimberley Locke’s, but she had that blonde, ‘stylish’ look that would be admired in a pop star. Speaking of which, note Paula’s critique: ‘Your hair, your whole outfit, right on the money’, WHICH TO BE FAIR, PROBABLY WAS IN 2003.

Jasmine Trias

{season 3 – third place}

As a young Filipino girl growing up in Western New York I didn’t really recall seeing many people like me on TV (#RepresentationIsImportant). Jasmine, a Filipina, was a big deal not only in my house, but for the Filipino community in her native Hawaii and back home in the Philippines. Which is probably why her voice is more suited to be an Idol back there and not in America.

Mario Vasquez

{season 4 – top twelve/withdrew from competition}

Mario Vasquez was kind of controversial. Not Corey Clark controversial, but controversial in the sense that he was considered a frontrunner, then quit during Top 12 week, citing “personal family issues” as the reason for his departure. He later admitted that he wanted more artistic freedom than what he would’ve been given as winner of Idol, and that’s why he signed a deal with J Records shortly after leaving – the same label of Fantasia and Ruben Studdard. He had like one or two mediocre singles after the show, but whatever really went down, IDC. He had a great voice and for better or worse, he knew it.

Elliott Yamin

{season 5 – third place}

Ah. Elliott Yamin. While the majority of American Idol voters like ‘White Guys With Guitars’ (I enjoy them as well), my personal favorite sub-genre of singers is ‘White Guys With Soul/Could Be Black’. I was actually studying abroad during this season, so I only watched a variety of clips on YouTube, but I did watch every single video of Elliot’s. I get why he didn’t win (I still don’t get why Taylor Hicks did), but gosh, does Elliott have some pipes on him.

Chris Sligh

{season 6 – tenth place}

Chris Sligh had me at hello. Once he made a reference to David Hasselhoff crying in the previous year’s season finale, I knew I was going to like him. Then he started singing and I was a fan for the rest of the contest. Like a lot of contestants, Chris unfortunately peaked early, especially during the infamous Hollywood Week, when he and three others had one of the best group performances ever. EVER.

Matt Giraud

{season 8 – fifth place}

I’m gonna be honest with you. Part of the reason I even decided to do this post was because of Matt Giraud. He is ‘The One That Got Away’ in terms of my relationship with Idol. He also falls under the category of ‘White Guy With Soul’, so you might be noticing a trend here. Whenever I think of Idol contestants who should’ve been more successful/won the show, he is at the top of my list. He can sing saaang, play piano, saaang and play piano well at the same time, and has a great personality. Although Matt was the recipient of the first ever Idol Judges’ save, it couldn’t save him on elimination night when it was down to him and Adam Lambert. But no bitterness here. Just enjoy all the videos of Matt Giraud instead. Like him singing Part-Time Lover, or another unforgettable Hollywood Week group song with winner Kris Allen, or the time he sang Let’s Get It On on Ellen and she laid on the piano while I swooned at home.

Andrew Garcia

{season 9 – eighth place}

Andrew Garcia, a YouTube star who, like Chris Sligh before him, peaked early and got a little too adventurous for the judges’ tastes with his reimagining of pop songs. This was and still is one of the best covers on the show. Too bad Paula wasn’t there to dance and clap along to it.

Didi Benami

{season 9 – tenth place}

Didi didn’t have the conventional pop star/belter voice like a lot of other contestants who go through the Idol bootcamp. Her soft tone was destined for her not to win, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t go far or make her mark. Again, my favorite performance of hers comes during Hollywood Week, when she covered a song written by judge Kara Dioguardi (remember her??), and later sung better, IMO, by S5 runner-up, Katherine McPhee.

Johnny Keyser

{season 11 + 12}

Johnny tried out for Idol season 11, which is when I became obsessed with this audition. I remember making a big deal out of him and he promptly got eliminated. Then he came back season 12… and got eliminated again. He kinda came across as cocky on TV (both seasons), but there’s no denying his audition is pretty hot. And gave J Lo the goosies.

Michael Simeon

{season 14 – top 24}

To me, Michael was poised to be the resident ‘WGWG/heartthrob’ of the season, but like the Chris Slighs and Johnny Keysers before him, he used his best material for the audition, as seen in this clip in which he serenades J Lo with Sam Smith while they slow dance and Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. serve as his backing band. It’s probably for the best that he didn’t make it, because this season proved to be chock full of talent. When the winner is crowned on Wednesday, the other two runners-up will automatically be added to this list. Because they’re all just that good. Seriously. And even one of them is a White Guy With Soul AND White Guy With Guitar!

Wildcards:

The ever dramatic Tatiana Del Toro, American Juniors ‘winner’ Danielle White (still listen to this song from time to time), season one host Brian Dunkleman in a face-off with Seacrest, just for funsies.

I Believe In Fairy Tales: A Plea To #RenewMindy

Every year around this time, fans of TV shows that are “on the bubble” hold on for dear life and cross their fingers that network and cable executives renew their favorite shows. This wishin’ and hopin’ and prayin’ has become more of a dire straits situation over the past few years, since the television landscape has changed so drastically. It used to be that shows weren’t in danger of getting cancelled unexpectedly, even if the finale was a cliffhanger. But now, showrunners of bubble shows have to decide whether to make the season finale a combo platter of a series finale as well. Parks and Recreation executive producer Mike Schur has talked about how every year they thought they were going to get canceled, and that they wrote episodes in season three, four and twice in season five, that could have doubled as series finales. That’s the kind of TV world we live in now.

In saying that, it’s always sad to see a show get canceled before its time, or when you know that the material is better than the ratings report. Like how me and many others are still pissed off ABC bosses cancelled Happy Endings. In an effort to not repeat history, here’s my plea to save one of my personal favorite shows on the air, The Mindy Project.

As most of us already know, the brilliant Mindy Kaling landed her own show in 2012, one that she stars, writes and executive produces. It was a real Girl Power moment when the show got picked up, and as the show built up an impressive arsenal of hilarious episodes, the fan base grew fervent and here we are three seasons later. However, The Mindy Project, while acclaimed by critics and beloved by fans, doesn’t do so hot in the Neilsen ratings, which is obviously important to people like Fox. Although the viewer numbers don’t show the strong fan support, there is a prominent group of folks clamoring for a fourth season. And this post is to show my support. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think Fox execs would actually cancel it, so you know this is serious. Here are just some reasons why we need The Mindy Project to live on, this upcoming season and seasons after.

Morgan and Tamra Reunion

Mindy (Kaling) has compared Morgan and Tamra to Ryan and Kelly from The Office – they’re in constant limbo in their relationship and it’s always a fine line as to whether they’re dating or not. But just like Ryan and Kelly, I feel like Morgan and Tamra’s walk into the sunset is inevitable. They’re both crazy in their own ways, but together, the crazy kind of balances out?

More Danny Dancing

The first time Dr. Daniel Castellano broke out into a dance to Aaliyah’s Try Again as a Secret Santa present for Mindy, I’m pretty sure I blacked out. My mouth was agape and I remember fanning myself with my hand to cool down the hormonal feels. It didn’t work. And then those sons of bitches upped their game with the season three premiere, in which Mindy finds out Danny used to be a stripper named Diamond Dan. Yeah, it was actually possible to top the Try Again scene. I’m still crying from his striptease (as seen above). If they can manage to up their game by using Pony, I can only imagine what they think of next.

Guest Star Potential

Starting with the pilot, TMP has seen its fair share of impressive guest stars, from Mindy’s Office pals Ed Helms and (soupsnake) BJ Novak to James Franco to Kris Jenner to Shonda Rhimes and Stephen Colbert, it’s like celebs are lining up to appear on the show. It reminds me of when Will & Grace had the most unexpected guest stars (hello Michael Douglas) but everyone wanted to be on the show because it was that good. Even in the finale, we got just a taste of one of my faves, The Mother herself, Cristin Milioti, who will probably end up dating Dr. Reed if it gets picked up for season four. And we need that. We need Cristin to have a run on a successful show!

We Need A Rom-Com

Mindy Kaling has said plenty of times before that she loves rom-coms. Her favorite movies include You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally, which are two of the most iconic films in the genre. Her love for this ilk comes through in her own program, and there’s really no other show out there currently that is doing what she and the writers do, done in perfect execution, with such well-blended humor and heart.

It Only Gets Better

This is a promo shot of the season one cast:

Three of those actors aren’t even on the show anymore. Cut to season three promo shot:

Look, I’m not saying by any means that TMP was a bad show in the beginning or that the cast members no longer with the series made it bad. I’m just saying that it takes some time to find your groove. To reference The Office again, season one had a few great episodes (including Diversity Day which Mindy wrote), but it wasn’t until season two and three when it really hit its sweet spot. Same thing for Parks and Rec. Sometimes it takes a little bit of tweaking to find the best version of a show, and I think season three was it for TMP. They found their footing, the characters’ voices, and fans and critics responded positively to that. It would be a shame to throw that all away.

Representation is Important

Thanks a lot in part to people like Shonda Rhimes and Mindy, there’s (finally) been an upward trend in diversity on network television. But we’ve still got a long way to go. I mean, just name one other show with a female Indian-American lead. And it’s not just that we need a non-white person to share their culture in mass media, it’s that media shouldn’t just be dominated by white folk. Constance Wu from Fresh Off The Boat (another bubble show that deserves a second season) said it best when casting actors of a different race changes the idea that a white person is always in the lead because it’s the norm. It’s time for a new normal.

Mindy and Danny Endgame

Look, I just need to know that Mindy and Danny are going to live happily ever after. Or just, ‘ever after’. When ‘will-they-won’t-they couples’ get together on TV shows, it can either be the start of something new or a jump the shark moment. Not only were the Mindy writers brave enough to put these two together long before a possible series end, but they kept pushing the line and went one step further with Mindy’s unexpected pregnancy. They were able to keep Mindy’s story interesting even though she landed her dream man, but just like life, she keeps getting thrown curveballs, and the fans deserve to see what’s next. Plus, a baby. Mindy and Danny as parents. Just picture that.

#RENEWMINDY