Kristy Lee Cook goes home as American Idol’s producers get cruel with David Archuleta

There was not another surprising result on American Idol 7 last night. Instead, Kristy Lee Cook went home, after landing in the bottom three for the fourth time in just six weeks. She was joined by Syesha Mercado, who went to safety first, and Brooke White.

The biggest surprise was that, after five weeks of treating the contestants like human beings and sending them to safety or the bottom three one by one, the producers reverted back to their mind games, because screwing with emotionally vulnerable people is fun, especially in high definition.

Ryan Seacrest split the contestants into two groups of three, leaving David Archuleta backstage through two breaks, where he probably was hyperventilating thinking that he was the one eliminated. But no, he was safe, and Ryan Seacrest asked David to stand with the group he thought was safe. That wasn’t exactly a new idea; producers did the same thing last year on the night Sanjaya Malakar was voted off and asked Melinda Doolittle to choose. (Is it mere coincidence that producers chose the two nicest, most agreeable contestants to screw with?)

But just like Melinda Doolittle did last year, David Archuleta simply sat down in the center of the stage. This didn’t work for Ryan Seacrest, who was in full asshat ringmaster mode and started to freak out that his little puppet wasn’t going to play along. (I confess that if someone offered me $12.5 million a year to be an asshole to some kids, I’d have trouble saying no.)

Ultimately, Ryan Seacrest tried to get David Archuleta to go to the safe side, and in working so hard to get David to do his bidding, totally killed the dramatic reveal. Take that. The safe contestants even joined David and sat down on the stage with him in solidarity. Eventually, Ryan regained control (practically lifting David up to force him to stand) and sent the safe people away. Do the millions of people who tune in and vote because they’re passionate about the contestants really want to see their favorites jerked around?

If anything, these games appear to be our consolation prize for sitting through a waste of an hour. And speaking of that, what a genius move, Fox: Expand the most useless half-hour in television to a full hour to try to get back those viewers you’re losing.

The Sing-Off loses its star

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Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.