"American Idol" this week received the most publicity it has in years — but not necessarily in a good way.
The day after "Idol" aired the audition of 16-year-old Claudia Conway, daughter of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and anti-Trump dad George Conway, social media and TV critics assailed the show producers for their choices, especially given her age.
"If the show is concerned that Claudia lost what has elapsed so far of her youth, the way to redress it would not be by having her spend some small portion of her teen years practicing her persona for millions on TV; if it wanted her to be able to suss out who Claudia is, it might allow her to do it elsewhere and then come back for season 21," wrote Daniel D'Addario, Variety's chief TV critic. "[Katy] Perry tells Claudia to calm the storm around her, while the show, putting her through to the next round, whips it up."
There was no shortage of comparable complaints from folks on Twitter, who accused the show producers of exploiting a dysfunctional family dynamic.
Claudia was already a TikTok "social influencer" before auditioning for the show last year. She has 1.7 million followers on the platform.
The nine-minute clip of the audition is available on YouTube.
The judges are given a head's up on who is coming in, so as soon as Claudia entered the audition room, judge Katy Perry asked her: "Are you OK?"
"No, but yes," Claudia says. She explains who she is and says, "I only want to spread love I do agree to disagree with my mom and my dad."
The judges look bemused. Then we see a video packaged back story where images of her mom Kellyanne Conway with former President Donald Trump appear. Claudia talks to her mom via a big video screen before the audition and says she's nervous. "You should be nervous, honey. It's a humbling experience," her mom said. "This is your time to shine. Remember, winners are people who are willing to lose."
George Conway, who accompanied her to California for the audition, is then shown tearfully expressing his pride for his daughter.
Claudia performs "Love on the Brain" by Rihanna with her eyes tightly closed, but she's unsteady. Katy said she "lost it" and asks her to sing another song. Claudia's back-up song is 'When We Were Young" by Adele.
Katy advises her to channel her own sadness of losing her youth because of "all the noise."
Claudia does a better job with the Adele song, but she has a bad habit of not opening her eyes while singing.
Luke Bryan said she's limited by her range. Lionel Richie said she took coaching well and liked some qualities of her voice. "There's a lot of noise in your life," Perry said. "You have to calm the storm around you. Before you sing, you need to get off your phone and stop reading your comments. Push it aside. If not, you may not ever rise above your dad or your mom. It's your choice."
Luke said no, but Lionel and Katy gave her a ticket to Hollywood.
In some ways, this type of storytelling isn't new for "Idol."
In fact, during the same episode as Conway's appearance, another contestant wrote a song about her mom abandoning her and broke down. There was also an overbearing dad and a singer with Tourette syndrome.