How ‘American Idol’ 2022 Could Be Different Than Previous Seasons

American Idol

ABC/Eric McCandless

ABC’s “American Idol” is set to return for season 20 in early 2022, and the show has made a few changes behind the scenes ahead of the monumental premiere.

Following the season 19 finale, which aired in May 2021 and pulled in around 6.5 million viewers, “American Idol” made a change in showrunners, according to Deadline.

There are also changes made to who is allowed to audition for the show. Read on for details about what might be different in the upcoming season.

‘American Idol’ Pulled In a New Showrunner

According to Deadline, Trish Kinane is retiring from “American Idol,” and Megan Michaels Wolflick, who has been an executive producer on the series, will be taking over.

A showrunner on reality TV, according to Reality Blurred, focuses on deciding which stories to bring to the forefront and deciding which contestants to focus on, so it’s definitely possible that this change will be apparent when the show comes back on air.

Kinane has been in the role of showrunner since before the show was canceled by Fox and picked up by ABC, meaning the upcoming season 20 will be the first on ABC that is being run by a new showrunner. Kinane was also an executive producer on every season of the show thus far, meaning her influence likely penetrated each episode. Luckily for viewers who like consistency, Kinane is staying on as an executive producer and consultant for at least season 20.

“I am happy to have been instrumental in the continued success of ‘America’s Got Talent’ and to have refreshed the ‘American Idol’ format, shepherding it through its last years on Fox to its new home,” Kinane told Deadline.

The new showrunner, Wolflick, has been a part of “American Idol” for 15 seasons.

Nearly All Previous Contestants Are Eligible to Audition Again

Following the 2021 season of “American Idol,” ABC released a new contract for people auditioning for the upcoming season that had a pretty big rule change.

Contestants must still be between the ages of 15 and 29 during their time on the show, and they must not be contractually obligated to not compete through any record deal, according to the eligibility page.

The significant change, however, was in the form of contestants that are able to return to compete.

According to the 2021 eligibility rules, “You are ineligible to participate in the Program if you competed in any previous season of ‘American Idol’ and placed first in the competition.”

That means that any contestant who did not win can now come back and try again, which is new for the franchise.

In-house mentor Bobby Bones spoke with Us Weekly about some of those exits and talked about which contestants he thinks should return for the upcoming season. He said Pike was definitely welcome to return.

“I don’t think any of us saw Wyatt leaving until it was time for him to go,” Bones said. “I haven’t spoken to Wyatt since he left, but sure. If he wants to come back, we’d love to have him come back again.”

He later added, “You know, he’s so good that maybe he doesn’t have to come back. Maybe he goes in and decides to pursue it and maybe get a record deal. Who knows? I root for him.”

Plenty of other contestants may also come back and try their hand at winning the show again, which could lead to season 20 of “American Idol” looking completely different from previous seasons.

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