Commentary

The Voice's Return Has Made Me Irrationally Happy — Here's Why

the voice season 19 comfort food feel good pandemic therapy

Usually, when a new season of The Voice rolls around, I get nervous — partly because I’m a generally nervous person, partly because covering the show is a big weekly time commitment. Plus, even though I’ve been recapping it since Season 12, I still have to look up how to format posts for the Blinds vs. the Battles vs. the Knockouts. Every. Single. Time.

But as Season 19 got underway Monday (read my recap), I realized something strange: I wasn’t anxious at all, I was relieved. I was excited. I was… Wait, was I happy? In fact, I was. This year, I don’t need to tell any of you, has been a s–t-show of epic proportions. A lot of us have surrendered so completely to our fraught new normals that we’ve forgotten what normal-normal even feels like. The Voice reminded me.

Yes, there have been changes to NBC’s sing-off. After just a single season away, coach Gwen Stefani, who’s yet to steer a contestant to victory, has reclaimed her swivel chair from Nick Jonas, meaning we’re back to her and significant other Blake Shelton cooing at one another and fake-fighting over the talent. (I reckon half the audience finds it adorable; the other half, annoying.) And we’ve been shown on air some of the steps that are being taken to protect the coaches, crew and contenders. (John Legend’s handshake hand on a stick — not to mention his dissatisfaction with it — is particularly amusing.)

But for the most part, it’s been business as usual: starry-eyed wannabes going from smartly edited backstory packages to singing their guts out while Kelly Clarkson runs through a series of facial expressions that are all but made to be GIFs. While the performances are occasionally extraordinary — Tamara Jade’s, for instance — the iconic red seats, the playful smack talk between the coaches, the “all” of it all has seemed fantastically ordinary.

And how much I’ve savored it has been a revelation. I didn’t have an inkling of how majorly I was craving “ordinary” until The Voice returned. Now I’m not only aware of it, but my craving is being satisfied. I hardly even roll my eyes anymore at Stefani and Shelton’s canoodling; the familiarity of it is a relief, a comfort. I might not even be too mad if the wrong contestant wins. Heck, that in and of itself would feel normal since the vocalists that most impress me rarely come out on top. (See also: Addison Agen, Kennedy Holmes, Katie Kadan… )

What do you think? Am I bonkers? Or are you, too, finding yourself devouring the comfort food that the show is serving up?