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Welcome, ladies, to the Ladies in Your Box, where we explore the women you see every day on TV, what relevance (if any) they have to your life, and what the mean to the world at large. Here, the first installment…

Ah, American Idol. Where young hopefuls go to be ripped to shreds by a Brit, to confuse a talk show host and to find out whether or not America loves them and their goofy smile (and lack of talent…I’m talking to you, Tim Urban…sorry ’boutcha last night). Since the show’s inception, the lady judges have been a rotating cast of characters, beginning with Paula Abdul as the only one throwing down for the gals, and then the introduction of Kara DioGuardi followed by the rapid-fire departure of Paula, who has since replaced by Ellen DeGeneres.

Unfortunately, as the producers have no doubt realized by now, replacing one vagina with any old other isn’t necessarily a winning formula. Paula was nice, like Ellen, but Paula had something critical that Ellen does not: a music background. And where DioGuardi is Grammy winner, and can provide substantial critique, Ellen is, as evidenced by the doe-eyed wonder with which she greets each and every performer, kind of…a fan.

But Ellen stepped out of her comfort zone last night, letting loose with the following vitriol after a tepid (at best) performance by Casey Jones: “I have to be a little tougher now. We’re getting to that point where you have to be great, and you’re consistently good, but I don’t think anyone’s going to be talking about that tomorrow. You have to be great right now, and it wasn’t great.”


Anyway, soft spot as we all have for Ellen, and difficult as this is to say, I’d take one Kara over one Kara and one other token woman. Kara is honest with the contestants while still keeping it classy and somewhat kind. My only suggestion? A little bit less of the apologizing. Last night Kara had a hard time getting any of her responses out without sandwiching them in I’m-sorrys: “I’m sorry Mike, it wasn’t my favorite performance…Sorry! Oops!”

But while we’re on the subject, I’d like to stand behind Kara for the recent flak she’s been receiving over her decision to pose in a bikini on the cover of Women’s Health, following her supposed-to-be-comical-but-really-a-bit-awkward takedown of Bikini Girl last season. I think that for those ladies who have come to be known for something that doesn’t rely on looks — say, singing, or sports, or swiftboating, or whatever — it can be that much more daunting to decide to go ahead and also be smokin’ fucking hot, for fear of being taken less seriously, or ripped apart for what you look like (not that Kara is anything less than gorge). But Kara did just that — and on national TV. And that, ladies, takes balls.

The Ladies in Your Box will be back next week…stay tuned.