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The Trope Codifier of televised talent shows and an entertainment staple for those who grew up in the 1980s, Star Search was an American television series that pitted hopeful competitors against each other in front of a panel of judges in the hope of launching successful entertainment careers and winning.

So yeah, it was pretty much American Idol before American Idol was a thing. More on that later.

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In its original run from 1983 to 1994, competitors were grouped in one of ten basic categories that varied from season to season:

  • Female singer
  • Male singer
  • Junior singer (Second half of the season)
  • Teen singer (First half of the season)
  • Group vocal
  • Dance
  • Junior dance (First half of the season)
  • Teen dance (Second half of the season)
  • Spokesmodel
  • Comedy

In the 1992-1993 season, Star Search moved to a daily format, with each day focusing on one of the competitor categories, but poor ratings resulted in that idea being discarded as the show went back to its usual weekly format.

Star Search was revived in 2003 in the wake of American Idol’s success and ran in a simplified format for one year, covering four series of competitions before being canceled in 2004.

Hosts

Judges

Contestants Included:

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