American Idol 2 concludes tonight.

American Idol 2 concludes tonight.
Clay Aiken or Ruben Studdard will be crowned the winner of American Idol 2 tonight. Both have many fans, so the vote is likely to be close. The fun begins at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, and will apparently include a performance by Kelly Clarkson. If the new winner follows in Kelly’s footsteps, the transition to successful, true-to-himself pop star won’t be easy, Slate’s Jon Caramanica
. He writes that Kelly’s debut album proves “how difficult the transition can be and how raw talent can sometimes be a hindrance to pop palatability, and vice versa.” Reporting from the set of the final performance show, Entertainment Weekly’s Jessica Shaw writes that “Clay owned the night” and argues it will be close, but Clay will win. Bookies seem to disagree: Ruben is the favorite, according to Online Casino News, which summarizes the odds. Regardless of who wins, the program “sends an admirably heartfelt message of hope” because it shows that “no matter how many pounds you carry, no matter how dorky your hairstyle, no matter what the color of your skin, you can succeed,” The Boston Herald’s Monica Collins argues. But The St. Petersburg Times’ Eric Deggans isn’t convinced, saying the show improved, but is still “a manipulative, hokey, exploitive billboard masquerading as a talent competition.”

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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.