By Adam B. Vary
Updated December 19, 2019 at 11:55 PM EST

The Idolosphere has been all kerfuffled today over an interview that Simon Cowell gave London paper The Daily Mirror in which he hinted that he would leave American Idol after his contract is up this year. A record label exec with three performance competition shows on his docket — two of them, London-based Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor, as a producer as well as a judge — Simon wondered out loud whether he “can keep this schedule up.” Turns out those Idol audition shows where Simon had to leave early because he “had to catch a plane” weren’t a euphemism for “just sick of the bloody auditions” after all. “I am not sure we can sustain me doing three shows a year,” he said. “They involve a lot of traveling.” Then Simon dropped this bomb: “One may have to go. I don’t know which one. That is the problem, I like all of them. I can’t imagine not doing Britain’s Got Talent and I can’t imagine not doing X Factor. But I guess America is more likely to go because I have got one year under contract. Maybe that will be the end.”

The most shocking thing? I’m not shocked at all. I can’t remember ever seeing Simon on Idol become as genuinely thrilled and just plain happy as he was during Susan Boyle’s recent — and now instant-classic — Britain’s Got Talent audition. That’s actually not entirely Simon’s fault. The Idol cameras never cut to the judges during the contestants’ live performances, leaving all four judges to natter on with themselves instead — to the contestants’ continued vexation. But that’s also part of the problem: Standing-Os for Adam Lambert aside, Simon seems disengaged from the Idol circus more than ever this season. It could be because his early favorite Lil Rounds has consistently disappointed in such a spectacularly boring way. It could be because new judge Kara DioGuardi is sucking up valuable screen time while never once saying “I agree with my dawg Simon” or pretending to be a coloring book. (Sorry, colouring book.) Or it could just be that after eight years of wading through an Olympic-sized cesspool of third-rate miasma to find a Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood (or, horrors, Taylor Hicks) on the other side, Simon is just kinda over it.

Sure, the Grey T-shirted One’s approval still carries more weight than Paula, Kara, and Randy’s words combined (faint praise, alas), but tell me, P-Dubs, would you really miss the guy if he was gone? Could the show survive without him? Or, if Bob Barker can leave The Price Is Right, will American Idol be just fine without Simon Cowell?