WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017 | 8:00AM

Should we be sobbing through an entire episode of [insert name of televised talent/variety contest here]? Asking for a friend. Aren’t those programs supposed to be escapism at its best? Something to make you forget all of the real reasons to cry in actual life? They should rename all those shows to “America’s Got Backstory” or “Backstory Idol” or “American Ninja Backstory”. Because it’s all about the backstory.

It’s been a slow evolution to get to this point. In previous years, you would watch people sing and get mildly-moved when they hit the big note. Then, slowly they began peppering one contestant with a dead family here, one cancer survivor there.  Nowadays it’s not uncommon to go through an entire box of Kleenex in one hour (not including commercials)… So my friend tells me. It’s literally all of the contestants. Does anyone not have a happy story? Part of me  my friend gets into it and loves it, where the other part would like to see just one episode where everyone on the show has had an ideal upbringing. Would that even work? Maybe it’s the ‘Intervention’ effect where it’s meant to make you feel better about your own circumstances. In any case, people eat it up.

It has become this way for a reason, obvi. The formula works. So much so that now it becomes a contest of who has had the worse childhood trauma and you end up finding yourself comparing this one’s backstory to that one’s. Sometimes the producers reach for something and you get the opposite emotion. Contestant comes out, cue back story: “..When I was fourteen, my parents got a divorce…”
“Puh-leaze, the last contestant has no arms and legs”, you find yourself thinking. Which isn’t right because obviously a divorce is horrendous, but not compared to going through life as a stump. The Voice takes it to a whole other level, they will produce this crazy backstory, go the the person’s hometown, have a slideshow, interviews etc. Then, the performance we’ve built up to and are fully invested in and not a single judge/coach turns their chair around! Yeesh! Harsh, ‘The Voice’. Oddly, well played. Didn’t see that coming. And weirdly I respect them for being able to see through the dramatic story and do what they are there to do; judge the talent.

Julien