Fox’s The Four: The show our hyper-interactive world deserves


Fox’s new reality singing competition The Four sounds super complicated, but also right in line with the times.

Remember when viewers chose Kelly Clarkson to be the first American Idol? It was so exciting and novel. You could actually call a number on the bottom of the TV screen, wait on a busy signal, and then vote from your own living room.

Now, if a reality show doesn’t involve an interactive aspect, it feels strange. Even on contained programs like Survivor, viewers have an increasingly vital role in the forward motion of the series. They rally for future contestants and live-tweet the episodes. The space between screen and us is getting smaller every year. It’s kind of like that scene in The Ring when the girl crawls out of that creepy VHS right into that dude’s apartment. But way less unsettling. Fox’s new reality singing competition The Four is going to push the interactive component to a whole new level.

According to Variety, the show will buck the usual reality trend of starting with many contestants and whittling them down to instead start with four dynamite finalists and pit them against a new challenger every week. The new interactive piece? Challengers could be fans plucked mid-season. Fox has yet to announce if any of the judging or elimination will have an audience component, but tearing down the viewer/competitor wall is fairly groundbreaking.

This shift in reality TV is unsurprising. It’s rare that people actually unplug for a full hour or even half-hour of viewing time. We like our phones, tablets, computers nearby to multi-task and interact.

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Who knows what kind of doors this will open for other reality TV? Imagine some guy in his man cave deciding he would be a better fit for the current Bachelorette and then actually getting on the show? Could an amateur chef watching Chopped Instagram a better recipe and suddenly be on television? Who knows, but the possibilities are endless.