It was announced this week that veteran host and former "Saved By The Bell" star Mario Lopez would be co-hosting Season 2 of the "X Factor." His partner? None other than Khloe Kardashian, one of the famous-for-being-famous Kardashian sisters. That moaning sound you heard at the time of the announcement was the collective disappointment of viewers as they imagined the "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" and "Khloe & Lamar" star in a pair of baggy -- but designer -- shorts and holding on for dear life as she cleared the ramp and began her arc over the shark tank...
That's right. "X Factor" has truly jumped the shark. Already. It's just Season 2 and the downward spiral, which actually started with the false promise of a "mean" Britney Spears as a bookend to the brutally honest Simon Cowell and the editing to show a slew of "mean girls" as contestants, has accelerated. Enter: Khloe Kardashian as the latest Fonzie Fonzarelli stand-in to soar above the shark.
Whereas Lopez has a history of hosting ("America's Best Dance Crew" and "Extra"), Kardashian has none. What she is known for is her unfiltered mouth on her various reality series and during interviews. She has become famous for a relentless presentation of -- on said reality shows and in interviews -- her fluctuating weight, nip slips, being married to an NBA star, talking about her vagina, and being a sister to Kim Kardashian. For the most part, she's known as a sidekick reference to others.
But not everyone sees Kardashian as a host as a bad thing. Entertainmentwise.com listed ten reasons why she should have been given the job. Among those reasons were her feistiness, her sense of humor, her compassion, her honesty, and her fashion sense.
Apparently, she's just what the show needed: an argumentative, smart-ass fashionista...
And Simon seems to be looking forward to his new host taking over the hosting job. He told the "X Factor USA" blog, "She's a fan and she's popular and she's a bit kooky. And, people like her. She's like a normal girl. She doesn't have hosting experience and I think it makes her interesting. It brings a certain amount of danger into the live shows, which I think is interesting."
Danger. Hmmmm... Right. "Happy Days," the popular 70sABC television show, thought that offering a show where The Fonz (played by Henry Winkler) being placed in a ridiculous -- but somewhat dangerous -- situation would be interesting (read: beneficial) for the series. Now it's a the industry's inside joke for shows making questionable programming decisions that can or do lead to a program's ultimate demise.
It is one thing to try and buy your viewers' interest by bringing in younger and more relevant judges (read: Britney Spears and Demi Lovato). That's a tactic used by many television formats to stop ratings slumps, steady them, or, hopefully, raise them. But it is altogether something different to brazenly bring in a gimmick.
If there's a show that has embodied the term "hyperbole," it's the American version of the Brit hit show "X Factor." From the pre-hype about how it would supersede "American Idol" (executive producer Simon Cowell's former show) to the $5 million dollar grand prize (the most in television history), the show has been about inflated and unfulfilled expectations. It's ratings were far below that of "American Idol," Cowell's old show he swore his new show would supplant. It's constant warring with NBC's "The Voice," then coming off as a poor copy and/or lower in the ratings, has not helped.
And as for unfulfilled expectations, Season 2 has proved no different from its predecessor. Even with getting rid of flighty Paula Abdul and paper tigress Nicole Scherzinger as judges and Steve Jones as host, the show has failed to rise to its off-season hype. The acquisition of pop diva Britney Spears has turned out to be a bust. Not that she hasn't turned out to be a decent judge, but the pre-season previews offered her up as Cowell's female counterpart, something she most definitely has shown herself not to be. Demi Lovato, the second judge acquisition, has turned out to be the surprise of the season, giving good feedback and having no problem going up against Cowell with her opinions. However, the obvious interest she showed with the male contestants got old quick...
And still "The Voice" continued to beat "X Factor" in the weekly ratings.
Well, don't expect placing Khloe Kardashian on stage next to Mario Lopez asking vapid questions (a la Ryan Seacrest on "American Idol" and Carson Daly on "The Voice") concerning the judges' thoughts or how the the finalists feel about something to lift the show's ratings. In fact, given that the Kardashian sisters -- especially sister Kim -- have saturated gossip media for nearly a decade, viewers might even reflect Kardashian fatigue.
For "X Factor" fans that were hoping for better for the show, they have little choice but to take solace in the fact that the show is about the talented acts, not the judges, hosts, and/or the soap opera-ish backstage and offstage antics of the celebrities involved. And there's always the faint hope that Khloe Kardashian will be more than the sidekick/opinionated twit she's become famous for being as she assumes her new role.
It's all up in the air now. She's suspended above the shark as the "X Factor" boat pulls her along...
But don't be a bit surprised when television historians and critics look back on this moment and laughingly refer to it as the moment the show jumped the shark.
Kardashian and Lopez will begin their hosting duties in November. "X Factor" can be seen on Fox Television on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. (EST).
(photo credit: Glenn Francis, Creative Commons)