If you’re like me, you probably are a big fan of NBC’s flagship summer show, America’s Got Talent. Touted as the country’s biggest variety competition, AGT boasts an impressive panel of celebrity judges and high-end production that reflects the budget and faith the network’s higher-ups have invested into it. AGT has all the tools it needs to have a successful run, but as a viewer I find myself continually disappointed and frustrated with the show.
A few weeks ago I shared a post dissecting and explaining all of the problems I had with AGT, which you can check out HERE. In it, I touched on how I as a viewer and fan expect so much more from what the show is currently delivering. I just can’t fathom how AGT continually trips over itself year-after-year over the same simple mistakes that could be easily remedied. I feel like a few simple changes and tweaks to the show could go a long way in making a much better product, which is what I’m here today to talk about.
With the offseason currently upon us, I’ve been spending more time than I’m comfortable sharing mulling over how I would fix AGT if I was a producer. Rather than let these ideas fall into my memory dump, I decided to write them all down into a list, which I have share for you below. Some of my alterations may seem ludicrous to the average viewer of the show, but damn it all in this scenario I’m one of the show’s producers and I’ll do what I want! Please keep in mind though while perusing the list that this content is solely meant to be a lighthearted, fun piece to hopefully start a discussion about how to make AGT better; not all of my hyperbole is meant to be taken seriously.
Anyway, here’s the list.
1- Overhaul The Judge’s Panel Completely And Replace Tyra Banks– Though I understand that there are many viewers who enjoy Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel’s antics, I’m not one of them. I personally found Howard Stern to be the panel’s only saving grace, and now that he’s gone I find little redeeming in qualities in what’s left. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the mess that is Tyra Banks’s hosting skills. I say ditch all of them (especially Tyra) and start fresh next season.
2- Eliminate Solo Singing Acts From The Show– This is a gripe I’ve had with the show for years. I’ve always been advocating that it’s incredibly unfair to have solo singing acts (thus exempting novelty acts and bands) competing against dance crews, and I stand by that assessment. For a singer to be allowed to just pick a song off a list while an act like a dance crew has to spend days perfecting their routine to get it up to AGT‘s impeccably perfect standards, is just ludicrous to me. I used to say that these acts should be forced to show some creativity by only performing original songs, but to be honest if it was entirely up to me I’d do away with them completely. If you want to be a solo singer, there are perfectly fine other alternative shows for you.
3- Bring Spontaneity And Unpredictability Back– I’m just going to say it: AGT has become predictable and formulaic. The past two winners seemed set for their coronation from their auditions, and without the next season even beginning pre-production, I can already tell you that the last act of night one of the auditions will get the Golden Buzzer. These things really bother me, and they make the show a lot less fun. When everything is so easy to predict, it dampens the viewing experience for me and makes my cynical towards the show as a whole. This is basically me during an episode: “Whelp, it’s 9:54 on night one of AGT auditions and here comes Johnny Whatshisface. Oh, and there he goes talking about his traumatic experience growing up with his parent being trees. Just get to the Golden Buzzer already, we all know where this is going.” If it were up to me, I’d do away with the Golden Buzzer, but if it must be kept in for continuity’s sake, I’d make sure it was always used at unpredictable times and didn’t always go to the biggest sob story.
4- Switch Up The Format– The AGT producers have clearly never heard the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Aside for the insane cut from 24 to 6, season 7 had a great format, which was replaced with the mess we’re left with now. This past season’s auditions went on for 6 weeks. 6 weeks! That’s insanely excessive, and is precious time wasted that could have been put to much better use. If it were up to me, I’d limit auditions to 4 weeks, and spare any excess for a longer live show process. I say, go back to the season 8 format, but cut auditions back a week or two so that 24 to 6 cut doesn’t need to happen.
5- Let The Audience Vote On Wildcards– The way AGT handles their wildcards are a mess and all wrong. I’ve touched on this in my previous post, but for some reason producers never use their wildcard picks to bring back acts that the viewers actually want to see again (with a few exceptions). For the most part instead, we’re reintroduced to bland acts that most viewers have probably already forgotten, while the ones that were unfairly cut and robbed are left at home seething at their television sets. If the producers are bringing back such weak acts as wildcards, what’s even the point of them to begin with? The answer is so that they can be used as filler to fluff up a show and be a number simply to go home again. Though it’s an awful way to think about it, that’s really just how things are. If it were up to me, before the live shows began I’d let viewers vote on every act that was cut just before the live shows (emphasis on “just before the live shows”), with the top 4 being the wildcards. This would keep viewers invested with the show, and ensure that the acts people are ready to vote for got a second chance. Also, I’d bring back the wildcard live show episode, but that’s an entirely different argument.
6- End Producer’s Agenda And Bias– I hate that this is even an issue to begin with, but I still want to touch on it. Lately, producers have been shown to have a clear narrative and idea for the way a season is supposed to go, and it’s something that’s really bothered me. Whether it’s ensuring Grace VanderWaal wins, or that a hopeful is humiliated for a TV moment, producer’s bias and agenda is clearly present if you look at the show a certain way. I say, let the best compete against the best, and may the best act win. You’ll get no shifty behind the scenes sabotaging or favoritism from me as a producer.
7- Stop The Overproduction– “You get a sob story! You get a sob story! Everybody gets a sob story!” AAAAAHHH! It’s to much! I hate how overproduced the show has become, and everyone’s intro package seems normalized to always include a tear-jerking backstory. What this does is craft a narrative and set a tone for the season that your backstory is an important factor in whether or not you’ll be advancing. It’s an awful thing when you really take a moment and think about what the show is doing (exploiting a story for ratings), and I think it’s entirely unnecessary. I say, keep the intro packages light, but informative, and let the contestants advance on the merits of their talent, not backstory. The overproduction needs to end.
8- Cut The Judge’s Choice– While I could debate for hours if there’s actually any legitimacy to the intended nail-biting finisher of a live elimination episode, the whole thing just seems like an obnoxious ploy by producers to ensure that they get their intended outcome. I think it’s unnecessary and overly indulgent. In my produced season of AGT, an elimination show is 30 minutes long and the intended acts advance without being forced to listen to Howie Mandel’s longwinded explanation for why he’s sending them home.
9- Superglue The Judges To Their Seats– This is 100% wishful thinking, but if I was the producer I would instill a rule that would severely handicap the amount of standing ovations the judges are allowed to dole out. The fact that they are done so often dampens what the meaning of one used to imply in the days of Simon’s early days of judging on American Idol. Now it just means you were slightly better than the rest of the acts, and that producers are trying to give you a push to help you advance, as if saying: “Look! We’re on our feet! That means you should vote for this act!” In my produced season of AGT, judges are allowed 3 standing ovations per season each. This would raise the significance of receiving one, and would make them a lot more rare. I don’t know, I think it would make for a much grander moment when a contestant gets one. Nowadays they just seem accepted and normal. Contestant don’t even always advance after getting one.
10- Stop Telling The Viewers What To Think– This concept is very prevalent in the early rounds of a season, and if you go back and watch some auditions you can tell that there is a certain tone in the air when a contestant steps on stage and starts performing. This is done through clever editing tricks and the music being used in an act’s intro package. As a way to convey to the audience how producers want you to be receiving the act, there will be reactions shots to the judges and audience members sprinkled throughout the performance. If the performer is someone who the producers have high hopes for, such as Grace VanderWaal for example, you’ll probably see lots of smiling cutaways to the judges or family members. On the other hand, a contestant performing badly will have edited cuts of people standing up and booing. Personally, I see this as a dirty tactic and a way the producers say that they think we aren’t smart enough to figure out if a contestant is good or not on our own. They’re trying to make the viewers think a certain way about the contestants, and that would have no place on a season of AGT that I’m producing.
In summation, yeah, AGT has problems, but that won’t stop me from watching it and being a fan. Like I said earlier, I watch the show for the contestants, and as long as they keep introducing us to really impressive talent, I’ll keep watching. AGT is a guilty pleasure of mine, and as long as it’s on the air I’ll continually be holding my breath and praying that for the upcoming season production will finally get their shit together.
So those are the thing I’d change about AGT. Do you agree with my ideas, or do you like a certain facet of the show that I touched on the way it is? If you were in charge of replacing the panel, who would you want as a judge? Let me know in the comments below!
Until we meet again in another post, later!