Amy Davis, Garret Haley, Joanne Borgella, and Colton Berry get uncermoniously dumped from Idol

Usually American Idol draws out the contestant eliminations, torturing them in the process. This season, they decided to go for shock, as Ryan Seacrest eliminated someone immediately, just 17 minutes into the show, with no fanfare and no build-up.

Ryan called Garrett, who’s 17, to the stage and engaged in friendly banter that ended with a verbal punch to the neck. “It’s been a quite a journey, hasn’t it been?” he asked. “It’s tough to say goodbye to anybody tonight–and tonight I have to say goodbye to you to start off. It’s over for you on Idol, Garrett.” Everyone, especially Garrett, seemed shocked.

“This night is no fun, believe me,” Ryan Seacrest said sometime during this live elimination show, but the only way he could have made it more obvious that he was having fun was to be touching himself.

For the women, he changed it up, calling Kristy Lee Cook to the stage, and eventually telling her she was safe. Then he turned to the seated women and said, “The person leaving us tonight, unfortunately, is Amy Davis.” For the remaining two eliminations, Ryan called pairs up to the stage, and dumped one from each: Joanne Borgella and Colton Berry. Both were the final contestants selected during the Hollywood round.

Over the objections of Randy and Paula, Simon Cowell told Colton, “Get a good job and then enjoy singing, because I don’t think you’ll make a successful career out of it.” For what it’s worth, the only male contestant who seemed to be bothered by Colton’s elimination was Danny Noriega, who was crying.

Earlier, Ryan Seacrest tried to address this season’s ringer controversy, asking Paula Abdul, of all people, “Some of these contestants are no strangers to this stage. How should that affect the voting at home or not?” Paula said, “It shouldn’t affect it at all. Because, the whole thing is, it doesn’t matter if anything of these kids sing in the shower or they’re backing up someone who sings in a stadium, it’s like they all went through the same lines, all the time, slept in line, had to put up with his stuff. And you know what, by now, these kids are talented, it’s a savvy business; if they haven’t already tried to make a name for themselves, they don’t deserve to be in this competition.”

To summarize, Paula basically said that the contestants consist of back-up singers at best (not quite true), and that those contestants who just sing in their showers and haven’t done anything until now to advance their singing degrees deserve to lose, which means she said a ringer deserves to win. Then again, I doubt she has any idea what she said, so I shouldn’t make much out of it. Plus, she was stressed out over the debut of her video, which filled time during the results show, and wasn’t as bad as one would expect. If Paula’s behavior over the past few years has been an effort to lower our expectations, it worked.

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about the writer

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, 36, 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.