American Idol viewers have left its judges questioning their faith in America.
On Monday, viewers voted for six of the 10 contestants who would advance to the next stage of the reality singing competition. Troublingly, five of these six singers were white, which left the remaining contestants — including the only two queer performers of color — to sing for their lives.
Ada Vox, who has brought powerhouse performances as the first drag performer to make the Top 14, saved herself with a rendition of "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going" from Dreamgirls. Judge Katy Perry, consistently impressed by Vox, made the "executive decision" for her to stay.
Perry also expressed frustration that Jurnee, a lesbian performer, was not voted as safe. "Never have I ever seen a more qualified woman for the job and still not get the job. What’s the disconnect, America?" said Perry, before Jurnee was saved by the judges.
Even judge Lionel Richie seemed befuddled by viewer tastes. "There is a time when I have never questioned my country, but America does not know what they’re doing!" he exclaimed after Dennis Lorenzo, a talented singer of color, was not chosen for the safe zone.
Users on social media were more frank in their assessment of what they perceived as bias in Idol's viewership.
. @katyperry Here’s the disconnect. Jurnee is a woman, she’s black, and she’s a lesbian. In much of America she has three strikes against her. One of the best singers on the show.
— David Hoffman (@atDavidHoffman) April 24, 2018
Apparently the people voting on #AmericanIdol are the same idiots who voted to put Trump in office. A big NO to the biracial lesbian and the Asian drag queen. #Jurnee and #Ada, SHINE ON! You are both amazing! @Jurnee @AdaVox
— Truth Monger (@TruthMonger4) April 24, 2018
Ada Vox is just not gonna win american idol because she’s a drag queen and america is still homophobic and conservative, it’s sad man :(
— fernando (@heartedkaty) April 24, 2018
Welcome to White American Idol #AmericanIdol
— Don (@liberalguy53) April 24, 2018
#AmericanIdol I am a white woman and I am offended by these picks.
— Jeannine Guay (@jeannineguay) April 24, 2018
Historically, Idol has been known for its conservative bent. The reality show infamously chose guy-with-a-guitar Kris Allen over the maquillaged Adam Lambert on season 8. In fact, in its fifteen seasons on Fox, Idol has never crowned an out singer. The competition now airs on ABC, but it appears to have carried over its conservative base.
In a Monday interview with The Advocate, Vox, who identifies as gay, was frank about her chances of winning the reality competition. "I'm not sure that the majority of America is ready for someone like me to be on that platform of saying that I am the next American Idol," she said. "But what I do know is that there is a big part of America that is ready to accept me into their hearts. It's the people that love what I do that are the reason that I do what I love."
Perry and the other judges cannot save Vox and Jurnee each week alone. Tune into American Idol Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern. Vote for your favorites on the American Idol website, app, or by phone.