Duets’ Attempt To Do Something ‘Different’ Totally Backfires

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Last night ABC debuted their new singing talent show Duets to great fanfare. For what feels like forever the celebrity judges and host talked up the new show and proclaimed just how incredibly different this one would be from all the others. In a somewhat cocky interview with Wetpaint this week, host Quddus said that this show  would stand out from all others because “it’s heads and shoulders above the rest.” However the two-hour season premiere just proved how fill-in-the-blank these shows have all become.

Throw in a charismatic host, a few celebrity judges (bonus points if one’s mentally unbalanced) and wacky outfits and you have a hit show on your hands! Or so these producers want to believe.

In this day and age where every talented nobody believes that they’re one audition away from becoming famous, the concepts completely lost its novelty and adding in the twist of celebrity duets didn’t re-energize the format. Rather it made it all too clear that we’ve all watched way too many of these shows. And yes, I’ll speak for all of us throughout this lovable rant about reality talent shows.

11 seasons ago American Idol debuted the concept of an American talent show to the country. People from all over could come and audition for their chance to become famous for their incredible musical talents. The concept may not have been novel, but at the time it seemed amazing. Suddenly that girl from 9th grade choir who could really sing was now competing for a recording contract on national TV. Bonkers!

But now, years later so many other shows premiered with such similar concepts, that it’s hard to tell them apart. How many sob stories can we hear about talented teenagers who overcame the odds to perform in front of America? If I sounded jaded, it’s because I am.

Not only did Duets not manage to re-energize the concept, but they actually did damage to it. In their quest to do something “different” they shone an extremely bright light on the fact that random Americans might be talented, but they’re nowhere near as talented as our actual beloved performers.

The entire concept of the show rests on the four celebrity judges — Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Nettles, John Legend — searching America for talented singers who can perform comelling duets with them on stage. And that’s the problem. Sure they found talented people who can really sing. But none of them managed to sound as good as their celebrity duet partner, making it incredibly clear that there’s talent and there’s talent. There’s that guy who starred in all the musicals throughout high school and there’s John Legend. There’s a distinction between the two and we observed that very distinction last night.

The other talent shows work because you’re comparing nobodies to nobodies. So yes, you can tell who really stands out among all the singers and who really deserves to go to the next round. But with this format, that’s almost impossible. Everyone’s overshadowed by their duet partner and I couldn’t stop focusing on that fact. In all the meetings that must have gone into this show, how did no one pick up on this glaring problem?

By the end of the two-hour premiere, I couldn’t tell you which contestant was my favorite or who I’d be rooting for all season. All I could tell you was that I missed The Voice and Cee-Lo’s shag wig. Sorry Duets. Unless Robin Thicke starts wearing live animals on stage, I just don’t think I’ll be tuning in.

(Photo: Buddy TV)