Julia vs. Kimberly – The “Rivalry” Pushes Julia Ahead

Fox couldn’t have planned it better. Julia and Kimberly fought when they were placed in the same foursome during an earlier elimination round. Julia came off as the victim while Kimberly came off a bit snotty. Now Julia has advanced to the final round while Kimberly has not – at least not yet. Coincidence? Yeah, right.

Could Fox have planned it better? Last week we saw Julia DeMato and Kimberly Caldwell placed in the same foursome to perform before the cuts. Julia wanted to practice but Kimberly and the other two wanted to go eat. Through whatever set of circumstances, Julia ended up waiting and waiting – and the other three never showed up. Then the next morning the other three – in particular Kimberly – acted like it was Julia who was doing something wrong when she didn’t come to practice with them. Kimberly even made a remark about it being a threesome now.

Overall, Julia was portrayed as the victim. She practiced on her own. Her sister even had to come in to get everybody to work together. Kimberly was portrayed as one of the people causing the problems. She made several remarks and even got Julia’s sister annoyed enough to tell her to be respectful.

So was it a coincidence that both Julia and Kimberly were in the same group – the first eight to sing? I doubt it. Was it a coincidence that Kimberly went first and Julia went last? I don’t think so. Indeed, even after both of them said on Tuesday’s show that the whole fight thing was in the past, Wednesday’s recap looking back at the previous night called them “rivals” (which, technically, they all are – but then why point it out specifically for these two?).

Fox didn’t have control over who the voters would choose, but they did have control over how they would reveal that information. They must have been jumping for joy when both Julia and Kimberly got into the final two. OK, so it would have been even better if they could have played this out over the course of more episodes by getting both of them into the top 10, but hey, it still played right into their hand.

As usual, the results were dragged out, leaving us with Julia vs. Kimberly at the end. All of the judges picked Kimberly. Personally, I had picked Julia. And so did Sting7 (in fact, our views on them were so similar regarding the performance of these two on Tuesday that he threatened to charge me rent if I didn’t get out of his head!). When I viewed their performances, I rated them solely on those performances. Did I have in the back of my mind that they were the two who had fought? Sure. But that wasn’t what left me cold about Kimberly’s performance or made me think Julia had the right stuff. Indeed, I really wanted to see Kimberly do well, if only because I liked her choice of song better.

However, can we say the same for the majority of other voters? We have seen before how important it was to be portrayed well in the early shows. Singers who showed up in a positive manner there were more likely to make it. Those who we never saw before were much more likely to be voted out. Julia was portrayed in a positive light. Kimberly… not so much. Julia was voted to the next round. Kimberly… was not. Coincidence? As I indicated earlier, I think not.

But don’t count Kimberly out just yet. I fully expect to see her back for the Wildcard round. There are three more groups to go, so whether or not she makes it is certainly a chapter yet to be written. But if Fox has any say in things, I would bet that she’ll be put into the Final 10. It takes the whole “rivals” thing to a new level – real or not. Just think of how they could portray it: Kimberly was beaten by Julia in the first round – even though the judges thought she should go on – but now she’s back and determined to show that she deserves to be there at least as much as Julia does! Sure, it’s not Nikki-beating-Tamyra big, but it would be a conflict, and we all know how much viewers love conflict on reality TV.

So congratulations to Julia for making it to the final round. Congratulations to Fox for planning this “conflict” so well. And I’m betting we’ll see Kimberly again…

David Bloomberg is the Editor of Foxes On Idol, and can be reached at rno@pobox.com.