“Star Academy”: why the show is making a triumphant return

At the time of end of the adventure More beautiful lifewe thought we had definitively buried the flagship programs of the 2000s. That was counting without the “Star Academy”, which made its big comeback on TF1 a decade after having disappeared from the small screen, and which ends on Saturday November 26.

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For this tenth season, the musical program welcomed thirteen young candidates to the historic castle of Dammarie-lès-Lys, for six weeks of competition, against fifteen previously. While it ends on Saturday with a final where the “academicians” Louis, Enola, Léa and Anisha will face each other, it has met with great success over the weeks with the public, attracting an average of 1.9 million viewers each evening between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and 4.2 million during weekly prime time.

The world looked at the reasons for the success of this comeback television.

Sweet scent of nostalgia and attraction of a new audience

The revival of the “Star Academy” first surfs on a sweet scent of nostalgia, responding both to public expectations and to a fashion effect, on which the channel and production have capitalized. The fans of the first hour never recovered from the cessation of telecrochet broadcasting in 2009 by TF1, due to constantly falling audiences, nor from its failed revival on NRJ12 in 2012-2013.

According to media sociologist Nathalie Nadaud-Albertini, a specialist in reality TV programs, this expectation of a return of the show was revived during the confinements, with the “putting previous seasons back online and circulating excerpts on social networks”, which allowed, according to her, “to stir up fan memories and bring the show to a younger audience”.

At TF1, the click came a little later. “We were convinced to take the plunge after observing the success of four special evenings that we devoted to the twenty years of the “Star Academy” during the year 2021. What surprised us was to see that we attracted not only the nostalgic, but also a younger audience who had not been born when the show launched”underlines Rémi Faure, director of the group’s flow programs.

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From the historic castle to the starry decor of the set, including the return of host Nikos Aliagas to present at prime time, the channel and the producers have chosen to take up the concept and aesthetic codes of the show to the letter. , to be sure to revive the original soul. Nothing was won in advance, however, notes Nathalie Nadaud-Albertini:

“We had to perceive the filiation with the previous seasons, without the public having a feeling of deja-vu. The new professors had to succeed in replacing mythical teachers (Armande Altaï, Kamel Ouali…), and the academicians, to exist alongside the memory of former students, such as Jenifer, Grégory Lemarchal or Nolwenn Leroy. »

The gamble of bringing audiences together around an intergenerational program seems to have succeeded in terms of audiences: TF1 prides itself on having brought together “ on average 41% of 4-14 year olds, 48% of 15-34 year olds and 42% of women under 50” during the first five “prime times”.

A reality show that transmits values

Added to this link established between generations is the success encountered in recent years by new variety shows, such as “The Voice”and the trivialization of reality TV.

The channel and the show’s producers (Endemol and DMLS TV) have capitalized on the singular identity of “Star Ac'”, at the crossroads of these two types of programs, to occupy a special niche on French television. . “The show is centered around the values ​​of self-sacrifice and hard work, conducive to artistic development. There is a desire among viewers to see students progress and to reward them according to their efforts.analyzes Nathalie Nadaud-Albertini.

Sociologists François de Singly and Pascal Duret already noted this singularity of the program in 2003. According to them, this school, whose goal is to transform raw talents into artists, is a “cousin of the school institution”, operating on an intensive learning process. In addition to the restrictive framework (courses, timetable and regular assessments), teachers play a central role in initiation.

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It is precisely because ” the notoriety encountered by the candidates of the “Star Ac’” is presented as resulting from the talent and the effort that it appears to be more legitimate than that of candidates from other shows”, explains socio-anthropologist Gabriel Segré, who has worked on the reception of reality TV shows. In this sense, the “Star Academy” is perceived as a less divisive and more socially acceptable program.

Less competition between students, more “benevolence”

The last season thus responds to new public expectations in terms of content and form, as Rémi Faure attests. :

“Reality TV as we know it today was an anti-model for us, and benevolence, a sine qua non. The goal of this program is to be inspiring and to be in a joint listening of the public. We therefore chose a slower and more authentic style of writing and decided to dedicate 95% of the day to student learning: course follow-up, performance feedback, meetings, etc. »

According to Nathalie Nadaud-Albertini, this orientation results in the absence of disputes or conflicts between candidates – which makes some say that the program is boring – and in the enhancement of friendships between students. “The casting and staging put more emphasis on the coexistence of different personalities and artistic qualities between students. We are thus seeing the disappearance of a more competitive culture, which could have existed during the first seasons”, she adds.

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In its effort to embrace the times and a younger audience, “Star Academy” 2022 also makes visible for the first time the fluidity of gender identities, through the expression of personal journeys and the teaching of new disciplines at the castle. Dance classes in heels given by Professor Yanis Marshall, star of this discipline, have emerged, as have classes in voguea practice born in New York’s LGBT+ clubs.

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The World Workshops

If the fans do not fail to also point out the imperfections of this last season, like the microphone problems encountered during each “prime” or the too low number of international artists present during prime time, and Apart from their disappointment at seeing the competition only last six weeks (due to the World Cup), their expectation of an eleventh season seems very strong. Faced with the success met by the “Star Academy” during this return, it is difficult to see what would prevent it from seeing the light of day.

“Star Academy”: why the show is making a triumphant return