Mel B’s laugh is infectious. Whenever I felt my interest in this show waning, all she had to do was let out a loud, deep, howl and I was back in. Heidi Klum continues to prove that she’s adorable and lovable. Both new judges have great chemistry with the guys. Everyone seems like friends and everyone’s having fun.
Now, I have to mention Howie. My dear, dear, Howie Mandel. His job seems to be pointing out how to assemble all the puzzle pieces that will make this show work. He constantly points to where each contestant will fit in the narrative of the show. He gets it. He knows, like we all do, deep down, that America’s Got Talent speaks to a very specific kind of American dream. It’s the kind of American Dream where we want everyone to fit into narratives of how we believe people should and deserve to achieve success. We want to hear the story of the young kid who’s just bursting with talent, waiting to be discovered. We cheer for the man from far far away from Hollywood who has been working with his hands his whole life, but dreams of being a star. We love the woman who gave up on her career to be a stay-at-home mom, but is now given a second chance to shine. As much as I know the formula that goes into what I’m watching, I still eat it up! I don’t know why, but I do. So while I started out feeling snarky, I definitely cried a couple times. And while I understand that our culture’s obsession with fame might lead to our downfall or at least our ultimate unhappiness — and that wishing to be famous and noticed isn’t the same as wishing to have a happy life — #GirlPower forever.
Moving on to the show like that lame countdown clock that started after the show had clearly already begun. Nick Cannon dances in his most patriotic attire to “Living in America” in an opening number that was clearly a PA’s nightmare. Let’s give a shout out here to all the Production Assistants, medics, and producers who are living their dream of working in television by making sure that all the judges Snapple cups are facing label out.
Dreamers came from all over to win a million dollars! Our first auditioner has rattlesnakes! Here’s what we saw:
Name: David “The Cobra Kid” Weathers
Talent: Existing around a snake
Thoughts: Okay, first: this guy said he’d been bitten three times. That alone sounded bad. But then later he said he had done this 15 times. Soooo… He has a 1/5 chance of getting bit? It’s tense in the sense that you aren’t really sure what you’re rooting for, but in the end all he does is blow up a balloon and avoid a snake attack for a bit until he actually needs the snake to attack. He’s also been on TV before.
Judges Notes: Heidi worries if she’ll be bit, Howard says he’s suck the venom out of her. Uck! That’s as bad as it gets.
Results: Going to Vegas.
At this point I had to ask “Why did I agree to watch two hours of this again?” And then…
Name: Marty Brown, 47, Carpenter
Talent: Singing “Make You Feel Me Love” to his wife. Loving his wife. Making America instantly love him.
The American Dream-ness of it: I mean this is as by-the-book as it comes when you talk “American Dream.” A carpenter who just loves to sing to his wife — who tricked him into auditioning so the world can hear his voice — and is excited just to be there now has the chance win a million dollars. Howie makes a comment about judging a book by its cover. But honestly, based on the set up you knew this guy was going to be good. Still, did I cry when his wife did? Of course. I’m human.
Results: Going to Vegas!
[Editor’s Note: Commenters are pointing out that this guy already was on a record label! That kind of changes his story, but I think we’d all be happier to live in the distorted narrative the show set up for us. So, he’s a carpenter.)
Name: Miu, Student, 31
Talent: Trying to be Lady Gaga… only succeeding in the weird part.
Results: Nope from everyone, but Howie. Afterwards Howard tells Howie that he has to start taking this show seriously. Yes! Seriously! Sure.
Acts where we don’t get an individual story: a straight-up Alien yodeling, a guy contracting all his muscles or just screaming like a maniac, and Avant Garde Noise Music. Love the last one! Nick Cannon calls it “Avant-Garbage” when they make fun of him. How many writers thought of that?
Judges Highlights: The backstage stuff all feels a lot like Spice World. Howie tries to speak German.
Name: Catapult (dance group)
Talent: Optical illusions. Dancing.
Thoughts: Amazing! I liked the helicopter and the woman climbing the face mountain (not what it sounds like).
Dream it fulfills: The group leader gave up making money as a dancer to follow his passion. He also needs this moment, to pay the bills. Let’s just hope all these guys get paid now.
Results: All yes!
Name: Hype (dance group)
Talent: Charmingly breakdancing a routine they choreographed in a “day.”
Thoughts: Basically everything about this is fun, funny, charming, and impressive. Did they actually make this dance up in a day? Who cares!?
Dream it fulfills: Talent winning out above all else.
Result: All yes! Going to Vegas.
People who don’t get a full story: A yoga teacher does a pretty awesome aerial strap routine. A comedian has a performance art piece with a sex doll (or just a lady doll). A kid performs a dance with his hat and gets so excited when he is picked that I cried again. Guys, it’s still hour one.
NEXT PAGE: A man eating a pepper, #10yearoldstar, #CallMeMaybe, #Booty