The first time I said, "Jumped the shark" when referring to American Idol, was during the final episode of American Idol season 8, when Ryan Seacrest did not say, "This year's American Idol is...Adam Lambert!"
I use the phrase, "jumped the shark" quite often now, when referring to some of my favorite television programs, without ever knowing where the phrase came from.
"The expression was coined in 1985 by Jon Hein, who would later create the web site jumptheshark.com." Hein explained the concept as follows: "It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now on...it's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it 'Jumping the Shark.' From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same."
Additionally, the expression refers to an episode of Happy Days where the gang went to California and Fonzie demonstrated his bravery by jumping over a shark in water-skis.
I guess it is akin to staring at the TV in amazement while saying, "Oh, come on!" These moments happen for everyone at one time or another, while watching their favoriite show.
If you go by the original meaning, I guess there can only be one shark-jumping moment, but when you are talking about American Idol, that is not the case for me.
I first want to say that Season 3 was the season of "jumping the shark" for me. There were only a few, very few, good enough to be on American Idol, a show responsible for a few of the most talented and popular singers today, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and Kelly Clarkson. The few bright spots of talent in AI's season three did not even make it to the finale. Voters booting Jennifer Hudson before Jasmine Trias, was a perfect example of "shark-jumping".
The next time American Idol "jumped the shark" was the year viewers suspiciously voted Chris Daughtry off, leaving three contestants remaining to fight for the title. I say, 'suspiciously' because by that time, American Idol was in its fifth season and viewers knew that to tie a singer to a contract with the AI producers could mean the death of a singer's career. (Exhibit A: Reuben Studdard)
When voters booted Daughtry off in Season 5, I suspected that the viewers' calls were not the only factor determining the winner. While the three remaining contestants, Elliot Yamin, Katharine McPhee, and Taylor Hicks, all had something to offer, Chris Daughtry had the elements of all three contestants combined.
A voice at least as good as Yamin's, if not better; the total package that Katharine McPhee possessed, looks and talent, and the entertaining appeal of Taylor Hicks, that year's winner who won the crowd over more for his humbling personality and 'nice guy' attitude, than for his singing ability. Fans now know a loss for Chris on AI, meant a win for his professional life.
You would think, as the definition of jumping the shark suggests, that nothing could top that moment, but surprisingly enough, three years later, it happened again.
Adam Lambert, in my opinion, was the best thing to happen to American Idol. He had the voice, the talent, the appeal, the stage presence, and he attracted fans from all ages. Everyone I discussed the show with was certain he was going to win. In fact, they all insisted he had to win.
Imagine the collective gasp of shock and awe among its millions of viewers, when Ryan Seacrest announced that Chris Allen was the new American Idol, on the night of the season 8 finale. This season I honestly thought Adam Lambert could not lose. In previous seasons, I always had my doubts, right up until the moment Ryan opened revealed the winner's name.
I think that American Idol voters jumped their own shark when they eliminated Colton Dixon week before last.
If Phillip Phillips goes home before the finale, it will be a loss almost as great, for me, as the Season 8 finale 'shark-jumping' moment of American Idol, when voters crowned the wrong guy.
Watch this performance Adam Lambert gave when he returned to American Idol to mentor the contestants two years ago, something no other Idol contestant has ever done.
After watching, you'll understand why I call Season 8 the "How could Adam Lambert NOT have won" season!