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Thursday, March 5, 2009

"American I-dull": Why titillating Tatiana should've stayed—inappropriate giggles, indeterminate psychoses and all

As Don Knotts' ever-restrained Ralph Furley would say, "Daaaaaaaaaaaaaamn!"

American Idol was so close to casting the equally-reticent Tatiana Del Toro among its Final 12 (or 13) this season. So very, friggin' close. She was the perfect reality TV warts-and-all whack job poised to revive a show that has suffered recently by resembling the musical Annie: Too many loveable ragamuffins-to-riches stories, and way, way too much rose-colored-glasses-wearin', Kumbaya-singin', everybody-loves-everyone-espousin', sun'll-come-out-tomorrow-trumpetin' tomfoolery.

This show needs palpable tension. It needs tragicomic desperation. It needs unpredictable, uncomfortable, unspeakable batshit crazy.

It needs Tatiana Del Toro.

As Idol's resident antihero(ine), the absurdly self-involved Tatiana was cocked and primed to bring a raw Hey Paula sensitivity and love-to-hate-her soapiness to this aging hit. Clearly, Simon, Randy, Kara and especially Paula -- who was getting free infomercial air time whenever Del Toro flashed Abdul's '80s-riffic Home Shopping Network jewels -- wanted Tat to make the final cut. They gave her a second chance. They talked about the need to cast stand-out characters. And they let her wear that ugly-ass patchwork dress while indulging her maniacal laughter.

And then she went and sang the same damn song she'd already sung for them twice before.


Not that the Tatinator didn't kill, or at least maim, with Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You." But three times? And in the you'd-better-knock-it-out-of-the-stadium wild card round?

Tatiana, what were you thinking, you Big Hot Bipolar Mess?

Maybe, just maybe, Anoop will be sidelined with laryngitis. Or the super-photogenic Jasmine will get a giant pimple and bow out. Maybe Ms. Del Toro will once again rise from the "AI" ashes wielding one of Paula's HSN honkers high in the air while screaming, "FOR THE HONOR OF GREYSKULL! SHE-RA! MU-WHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!"

With Tatiana, anything seemed possible. Inappropriate guffawing. Inconsolable sobbing. Indeterminate psychoses. And now it's all flushed away, because she didn't just sing the stinkin' theme to The Bodyguard.

I know I'm not alone in wishing I could've seen Tatiana narrowly escape the reality TV ax week after week, hysterically dropping to the ground to thank God -- or Ryan Seacrest's crotch -- while completely ignoring and upstaging the devastation of her excommunicated competitors. What wildly uncouth, refreshingly real Me-Me-Me candor we could've witnessed each week. Punctuated by Big Hot Mess meltdown upon meltdown.

THIS is the real Hollywood. THIS is the true product of an Idol-izing culture.

Sadly, though, THIS is not this season's American Idol.

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