If this was an American Idol episode of Behind the Music, this would be the moment at which the music would turn super-somber and the shot would turn to slow-motion, as the voiceover began a foreboding "And then..." narration. For the nine years the category has existed, Idol has been a consistent and reliable presence in the Outstanding Reality Competition Program field—it never won, sure, but it was always at least granted the privilege of getting slaughtered by The Amazing Race (or for one anomalous year, Top Chef). It was a sign of respect.
But as of today's announcement of the 2012 Emmy nominations, the series' downward trending has reached a new low: For the first time in the show's history, Idol is not among the nominees for the Outstanding Reality Competition Program category. Worse yet for it, a different music-related program is: The Voice, which has already eclipsed Idol in hype and peak ratings, and now has taken its slot in TV's pre-eminent award show. With no judges currently in place and rumors of a decreased budget abound, this is not exactly the PR boost that the show needs in its all-time most vulnerable off-season.
It's not a complete wash for Idol, at least—Ryan Seacrest does score his fourth nomination (in as many years as the category has existed) for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program, while Carson Daly rightfully remains on the outside looking in. Contract re-negotiation time, Seacrest.