The powers that be at American Idol want us to think that Mariah Carey and Nicki were at each other's throats from the get go, in one of the most ostentatious diva battles pop culture has ever witnessed. Footage from the relatively harmonious first day of filming (when Mariah wore this) was moved to the end of last night's Season 12 premiere to make way for the subsequent bickering that happened as the divas got more comfortable with each other and/or were told by producers to ramp up the animosity. (The first hour of footage that was aired, by the way, was described as the first day of filming.)
Of course, the deception could be all around. As soon as the beef between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj conveniently leaked in October, it seemed like a publicity stunt. At the very least, it behooves the women to spar, as it's good for the show, keeps producers happy and gets people to watch so that Carey and Minaj can ultimately continue to shill their brands to the widest possible audience. Sometimes when it is in your best interest to publicly dislike someone, cognitive dissonance causes you to begin to dislike that person for real.
So, it would be impossible to unpack the "authenticity" of this rivalry between the old guard and the new, but even if we read it as completely contrived, I love the idea of two pop divas essentially flinging themselves into the realm of improv theater. On last night's show, Mariah and Nicki bickered about Mean Girls (in a moment tailor made for gay boys and other diva enthusiasts of all walks of life). Twice. Mariah mocked Nicki's hat (which, to be fair, was an absurd drum major thing). Nicki called Mariah a "bitch" and made a strangling motion behind Mariah's back. It was all very...pronounced.
While Nicki seemed fairly sharp and self-aware throughout, Mariah simply could not restrain the type of eccentricity that comes from being a global superstar for almost a quarter of a century. Even at her most normal, she is a delightful weirdo.
This show is, in a word, riveting.