Jacob Continues To Bring It Home

14 Jan

Come for the singers, stay for the recaps.

I missed the premiere of American Idol last night – I usually miss most of the episodes at the front, just tuning in a couple of times to get a feel for the folks who will still be around in the finals, when I do find the time to watch.

Though last year was a bit of a wandering, gimpy endeavor, they’ve promised us that this year, things will be different – added will be a new judge, who is apparently some sort of big deal in the industry, gone will be the ugly, endless, borderline-exploitative (I say borderline because, hey – these people did sign up for this) audition rounds, replaced with a longer focus on the singers’ time in Hollywood.  To which I give my hearty endorsement.

But if I’m being honest, the only real reason to watch Idol at all, if you know what you’re doing, is to be able to keep abreast of Jacob Clifton’s unbelievable recaps over at Television Without Pity.

My sister and I have been huge fans of TWoP for the past five or six years – we discovered it while looking for a recap of 24, and, after we figured out the nicknames and format, were hooked.  Like, scary hooked.  It was in the heyday of the site, before owners Sars and Wing Chun (AKA Sarah Bunting and Tara Ariano) sold it to Bravo and left. In a matter of months, Bravo had the staff gutted, the homepage placed under ghastly redesign, and the recaps about 1/3 as well-written or funny. Well done, you fucks.

But, there was a light in the storm – Jacob remained, and remains to this day, and that more than makes the site still worth recommending. He is the immovable object to Bravo’s irresistible force. The man is some kind of recapping savant – a linguistic master, creative to a fault, willing to take readers on one literary flight of fancy after the next, peering as deeply, if not deeper, into the souls of the characters on Battlestar Galactica and Gossip Girl (the two other shows he recaps) than do the show’s actual writers.

American Idol is certainly a different type of recapping for him, distinct from the character-based ensemble dramas listed above, but he is still remarkably able to dig into the motivations of the aspiring singers who populate the cast of Idol, to look into their eyes as they sing “I Have Nothing” and make some sweeping proclamation about the nature of things, a proclamation that is not only beautifully worded, but feels right. It’s really something.

This week, I’m pleased to report that he’s recapping Idol again, and from the look of things, it’ll be another great year.  From his recap of the audition rounds:

Off-topic sort of, but during commercials I have to tell you a very special story that happened to someone I really care about, today. That person was me. The thing that happened to him was that I got an email from a S4 auditioner who was so troubled by what I wrote that he has completely changed his image and started bodybuilding. Yeah. I know. But so the kicker is that he was in Playgirl last year. He even sent me a (censored) in MSPaint, which is the sweetest detail if you think about it) photo of the page on which he is featured. And yes, there has been drastic and discernable improvement in many areas; in fact looking at this Playgirl profile makes the future so bright that I almost feel I should be wearing those proverbial shades you get when you hope too hard.

Do I consider myself a hero? Hmm, good question. Not really. I made a difference in someone’s life, and that’s something special. I made a difference in a stranger’s life, and we’ll always be connected by that, and now he’s been in Playgirl, and I can’t take really credit for it, but I am proud of him. I mean, the work was all him, you know? That’s humbling. So, if for just a moment those footprints on the beach happened to be mine, I just hope he pays it forward. I guess what I’m trying to say is that basically, what I do changes lives.

Awesome. Looks like I’ll have to watch some Idol this year, after all.

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