“The Great American Vote” is one of the dorkiest competition concepts to come along in ages — a “Queen for a Day” update where dueling contestants with silly aspirations and avocations (they’re called “dreams,” but that’s really too generous) ask America to fulfill them. Producer Mike Fleiss has anchored ABC’s reality push with “The Bachelor,” but this latest entry proves uncomfortable to watch at times, essentially forcing the participants to beg for benefits. Not surprisingly, the series stumbled out of the starting gate and doesn’t look destined to make any of the Alphabet’s ratings dreams come true.
Four pairs of contestants make their pitch to the audience in the premiere, including a pair of “prematurely balding dreamers” in their 20s who want hair, two pageant moms, a couple of “crazy animal lovers” and guys who yearn to do something special for their wives.
The problem, almost without exception, is that with a little ingenuity or effort, any of these folks could achieve these “dreams” on their own. Yet there they are, given 15 seconds to plead for their prizes, making them appear slightly pathetic and mostly unsympathetic. (One of the bald guys, remarkably, suggested that he deserved to win because the gift would benefit him, not others — a soliloquy to selfishness that improbably worked.)
Host Donny Osmond certainly gives it his all, gushing over the “next hairless hopeful” or Stepford mom. Still, there’s something decidedly cut rate about the whole endeavor, including a voice-over announcer saying that guests have no idea what dazzling packages await them if they win, which reminded me of that old coffee commercial where they secretly substitute instant for fresh brewed.
ABC must have figured that having a “You get to vote” format with “American” in the title would give the series a leg up, but beyond that, to call this “ill conceived” doesn’t really do the end product justice. And while parts of the name are true, ultimately, the show features pretty lame dreams and there’s nothing great about it.