Matt Sayles/associated press


Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson says American Idol left her feeling “abused, misled and brainwashed.”


REALLY MEAN: Reality TV is taking a beating just a few days into this short month, beginning with former Idol finalist and Dreamgirls star Jennifer Hudson telling Essence magazine that her time on the show that made her famous was a nightmare.

“On American Idol, you go through this mental thing; you've got to get yourself back together. You've been abused, misled and brainwashed to believe whatever they want you to think," Hudson told the magazine.

“You become a character – I became the girl in the turkey wrapping." This is apparently a reference to an unfortunate outfit that slipped past the show’s stylists, which prompted judge Simon Cowell to opine that “You look like you should be something you should wrap a turkey in.” Cowell’s quote – and Hudson’s reference to it – are all that’s left of the incident, which Hudson has breathed life into again with by reminding us of it again.

"I just knew I had to sing my way out of it,” Hudson told Essence, in a story that’s already all over the web like, well, a turkey wrapping. “I don't believe in looking back, and I didn't look back." Except in Essence magazine, or course.

Much more sordid is a story printed last Friday in the Orange Country Journal, which featured columnist Frank Mickadeit’s interview with Josh Waring, the son of one of the Real Housewives Of Orange Country and an unhappy participant in the notoriously tawdry Bravo US reality show. His mother crowed on the show about the Brady Bunch-like merging of her family with that of her new husband, George, a wealthy developer, but her son claims the show has turned his mother into a monster.

“She has changed," Josh told Mickadeit. "She's a different person. I don't know if the show went to her head, or what. At one point, she went off to Europe (with George) and left me with the home and the car. I don't think she wanted to parent me."

“My mom was willing to expose (my problems) but not willing to handle it. It was public entertainment, which pretty much disgusts me ... If turning your son into a disposable item was necessary for success, she was willing to do it. If you watch this season, it's disgusting the lies I put on for my mom. I don't know why I put that face on for her. Maybe I was hoping she'd spend time with me."

The horrible thing is that this just makes me want to watch the show, despite whatever sympathy I might feel for Josh; Mickadeit obviously empathized with the young man – the interview ends with the writer giving some of his old clothes to the Josh, who’s living with his stepdad’s ex-wife and hoping to re-enroll in college, having lost his place when his mom kicked her out of her house. If all reality TV needs is damaged, needy people to grease its gears, then I think we can count on the genre being around for another millennium or so.