Reality is full of failure.
And part of the appeal to ‘Reality TV’ is the frisson of expectation where it could all go wrong in front of millions. An essential ingredient to the sub-genre of ‘Talent Shows’ is the judging of these failures when they explode. It’s not the showcasing of the winners. Variety shows have spotlighted hot new acts for decades. What reality talent shows do is show us the losers as well. And the very public disappointment is not a sadistic form of schadenfreude when done properly, but instead an insightful contrast to the often very hair-splitting gradations that separate superb from superlative.
X Factor has learned this to their chagrin with the countless attempts to re-juggle the judging panel when cornerstone Simon Cowell stepped back. When the king of judging left with him a bit of X Factor’s own x-factor as ratings dipped so much that it was pipped by rival Strictly Come Dancing. And what made ‘Mr. Nasty’ so special was his ability to identify and dissect the failures.
I’m an unabashed fan of Strictly as well as Dancing With the Stars, the ‘Got Talent’ versions both sides of the Atlantic, and especially Sky’s ‘Got To Dance’ which just launched into its live semi-final stage last night It simply one of the best produced talent shows there is rivalling DWTS with its attention to detail, creativity and production choices.
And the centrepiece is the judging panel. While Cowell seems to flit from one ‘personality’ to another trying to find the right judging chemistry, GTD ‘nails it’ with three talented pros who are as balanced and precise and engaging as Bendy Kate. They balance the Leadership of extolling the upside triumphs, as well as Management of addressing failures firmly, fairly and friendly (no posturing put-downs to play to the cameras).
What’s more is, like Cowell himself, they seriously know this craft and business of dance. A classic comeback line to a red ‘X’ or star by a disgruntled contestant is ‘I’d like to see you judges to this?!’ Well, on GTD, the judges can and do.
Last night, we got to see ‘Chuck’ do his “superhuman” routine once again and the post performance judges review was a gem of embracing failure.
- Ashley: That hurt to watch.
- Kimberley: I feel like I’ve spent most of my career making sure that I don’t fall straight on my face or flat on my back, but you’ve spent yours making it amazing. How did you discover that you could do those things?
- Chuck: It started off as an accident. I was doing a flip and I felt in the air that I was going to fall wrong to I just relaxed by body. And I was about this high off [5 feet] the floor. Smacked my face,. Thought I broke something. Realised nothing was hurting. Started giggling. Thought I’ll do it again properly.
- Kimberley: Does it hurt?
- Chuck: No it doesn’t hurt. I’m crazy, but I’m not stupid. If it hurt I would stop doing it.
- Ashley: Evolution is mistakes that create the anomaly. And that’s exactly what that is. Your style alone could actually help move along what people think they can do with their body. I actually genuinely believe that you are a trendsetter.
Not all GTD ‘failures’ produce such spectacular results, but one of the greatest ‘bombs’ of all time ended up being a viral delight for its unadulterated, unfettered expression of…well, ‘Happiness,’ that the judges rightfully applauded and praised for its trueness of spirit…