American Idol, but maybe not for the reasons you'd think.
I mean, I don't hate reality TV. Sure, everybody says that reality TV has put scripted TV into a slow-but-inevitable death spiral. But frankly, if you ask me, there are larger forces -- the general economic slowdown, mass-media fragmentation, funny youtube cat videos -- that are hammering the nails in that coffin. If it hadn't been reality TV, it would have been something. (Hell, before it was reality TV, it was news documentary magazines.)
No, I hate how American Idol has made FOX lazy. "The Death Star" (as it's named by TV critics, for its ability to demolish anything else in its time slot) has basically made FOX the #1 network year-in and year-out. So FOX has gotten bloated and complacent. I miss scrappy FOX. I miss underdog FOX. I miss FOX that was broadcasting shows that were decried as indecent, when they just didn't care because they were in fourth place.
Instead, they just sit there, watering their AI money tree, churning out mostly pabulum, while if anything, FX does the interesting stuff with minuscule budgets and nonexistent audiences. Granted, American Idol is no doubt the reason we now have Glee. But I get the feeling that a hungrier, AI-less FOX would have given us a half-dozen Glees by now.
 Web weirdness: I received this question a few days ago, and then it disappeared. Sorry, anonymous questioner, you don't get the auto-notification that I answered this. :(
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