Paula Abdul was surfing the top of the Twittersphere on Wednesday. She had posted — and the American Idol producers confirmed — that she is not going back to judge her ninth season of Idol.
Far be it from me to pass judgment on a professional judge, but here's my verdict: I'm amazed Abdul lasted this long. Half the time, she's incoherent or just plain nuts.
You would think the only possible logical conclusion here is that her departure is the best thing that could happen to Idol. Now the show's young musical talents can finally have the sober-minded assessments they deserve from Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell. But when has logic ever ruled American Idol?
What makes Idol isn't its integrity as a talent show. It has none. Its true appeal is its ability to prompt mass rubbernecking in the absence of talent and integrity. No one delivered train wrecks better than Abdul. Sure, Cowell has memorable put-downs from time to time, but what really got people talking at the water cooler was Abdul off the rails. Exhibit No. 1: the time during the 2008 season when she complimented Jason Castro's second performance, which was odd because he hadn't sung it yet.
Abdul's ability to self-destruct isn't Idol's biggest liability; it's its biggest asset.
This is bad for Fox, but what is the network really risking? In the worst-case scenario, the show takes a dive without her and needs her again. Is she going to go somewhere where they can't win her back? She has tried her own reality show and failed. That's the advantage in negotiating with an unpredictable loon. Just because she's gone, doesn't mean she'll have somewhere else to go.
Andrew Wallenstein is a television critic for The Hollywood Reporter.