Judges all but declare Crystal Bowersox is the winner months before American Idol will end

If American Idol 9 concludes around the same time as it usually does, we have about two and a half months to go. But it seems like the judges have basically already settled on a winner: Crystal Bowersox.

“Please stay healthy. We need you here,” Ellen told Crystal, who performed first (a Creedence Clearwater Revival song) despite being hospitalized yesterday. Simon Cowell then praised her because “you didn’t play the whole sympathy thing” (no, the show did that for her by changing its schedule for her!), and then comparing her to Kelly Clarkson and saying, “I think we’ve got a really serious artist.” At the end, he said the women’s performances included “some marked improvements and some horrific performances” and said Crystal “stood out.”

Yesterday, after changing the schedule for Crystal, executive producer Ken Warwick detailed their decision-making on Ryan Seacrest’s show, and addressed the fairness issue without making any sense. He said, ‘We came to the conclusion really that the fairest thing to do overall — because I’ve got three of four other girls who got sniffles and the flu — that if the boys were okay with it, we put the boys on…” Yes, I’m sure it was really the boys’ call.

Lilly Scott was about the only other person to approach Crystal levels of praise; the others got eviscerated to varying degrees. Didi Benami couldn’t even speak after her critique because she was about to bawl.

Crystal and Lilly as frontrunners are interesting, because they’re atypical Idol contestants, as far away from the Adam Lambert and Kris Allen model as you could get and still have them on the show. But it’s not going to be interesting to watch this level of competition–which is to say, not much competition at all–for the next 10 or 12 weeks, as they and one or two guys move toward becoming the inevitable finalists.

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.