Exactly 10 years ago tonight, American Idol: The Search for a Superstar concluded on Fox, its first season giving television another shot of reality TV-fueled adrenaline that has lingered to this day.
The show debuted on June 11, 2002, having been preceded by ads featuring Simon Cowell being rude to auditioners, which back then was absolutely shocking. Season one also featured a co-host, Brian Dunkleman, and the return to popular culture for former idol Paula Abdul.
Summarizing everything that Idol has wrought would be impossible, from the copycat shows to its own drama to the careers it launched. That is perhaps the best illustration of its success, power, and impact on the world.
Go back in time 10 years with these clips, which make the first season seem like it happened in a previous century, not decade, from Kelly calling Simon “the British man” at her audition to the nearly juvenile set design at the auditions. How new and fresh and weird it felt back then, compared to how tired it all feels now.