American Idol takes two excruciating hours to name seven of the top 24

American Idol 9 has seven of its top 24, and those of us who watched have 120 fewer minutes in our lives during which to do something worthwhile.

The two-hour episode was nearly all filler in the form of recaps of contestants’ journeys so far, which wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t been watching recaps of contestants’ journeys so far throughout all of Hollywood week. When there was content, it was a few seconds of the contestant’s final performance, followed by lots of of footage of people sitting in one of three hotel ballrooms, waiting to hear their fate. It took an hour for the judges to eliminate one of two rooms, and another hour to say yes to seven people and no to a few more.

Ryan Seacrest’s plodding narration kept insisting how stressful that was, pointing out, for example, that they were silent in anticipation. Yes, because they’re not allowed to talk! At one point, he even narrated the judges drinking out of their special Hollywood round Vitaminwater Zero cups. At best, it was an hour-long episode that shouldn’t have been expanded into two.

The seven people who made it through to the top 24 are:

  • Didi Benami, 23, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lee Dewyze, 23, Mount Prospect, IL
  • Katelyn Epperly, 19, West Des Moines, IA
  • Todrick Hall, 24, Arlington, TX
  • Casey James, 27, Fort Worth, TX
  • Aaron Kelly, 16, Sonestown, PA
  • Michael Lynche, 26, Astoria, NY

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

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.