Little Mix The Search: have we heard too much from reality TV?

Ceri Doyle

On September 26th, 2020, Little Mix: The Search premiered on BBC One. The reality television music competition follows Little Mix, who won The X Factor in 2011, as they create six new bands who will compete for the chance to support them on their 2021 Confetti Tour.

Following the release of similar talent competitions such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, it is time to ask if we’ve seen too much of these repetitive programmes, or if Little Mix: The Search offers something new?

A reason that we’ve outgrown series’ such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent is that we’ve become tired of patterns and formulas that made these shows into manufactured machines. Little Mix addressed this problem when speaking to RadioTimes, with Jade Thirlwall saying that: “when (they) created The Search, (they) wanted to make sure it was a new dawn of reality TV where authenticity is key”.

Having competed in a similar competition themselves and being immersed in the entertainment industry, they knew that “smoke and mirrors”, were not working anymore. Little Mix: The Search is a breath of fresh air in the world of talent competitions; straying away from scripts, sob stories and forced drama that ultimately led to the downfall of its rival programmes.

Competing on The X Factor gave Little Mix knowledge of the entertainment and music industries, as well as the experience needed to judge a music competition like The Search. Although some of the judges of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent have had success managing musicians, the majority do not have the vocal training Little Mix has, nor have they competed in a singing competition themselves.

Due to these qualifications, the band can provide engaged, hands-on mentoring for their contestants. In contrast to the detached coaching on its fellow programmes, Little Mix: The Search has quality, dedicated judging that makes it unique.

Little Mix: The Search also has the warmth that its rival series’ lacks. Rather than watching a competition where the judges are battling for the attention, we are following four friends with genuine personalities as they put together six bands of talented people we are naturally compelled towards.

The contestants are encouraged by Little Mix rather than exploited for melodrama, with Jesy Nelson reminding an emotional contestant to, “compose (him)self”, in the second episode. Learning from their experience competing on The X Factor, the band has also prioritised aftercare for their contestants since, as Nelson told RadioTimes: “(they) didn’t really get that”, making Little Mix: The Search far from a soulless music-making machine.

It is true that we are suffocating in televised competitions such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, which have sacrificed authenticity for ratings, but that is not Little Mix: The Search.
Based on how much promise The Search has given us in the few episodes that have aired, it’s obvious that transparency, quality judging and heart is key; and frankly, we haven’t seen enough of this.

Ceri Doyle

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