Entertainment TV Farewell, old friend: what we learned from American Idol
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Farewell, old friend: what we learned from American Idol

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When American Idol first hit television screens in 2002, it was a true phenomenon.

Pulling an average of 30 million viewers per episode, it paved the way for copycat shows like The VoiceThe X Factor and even So You Think You Can Dance.

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Sadly, the reality singing series will wind up in 2016 following a 15 season run.

It’s a testament to the watertight formula that the show survived for so long in an era of half seasons, pilot-only runs and piracy.

What’s more, American Idol and its chart-topping spawn taught us some important life lessons.

Judging people is fun

Before Idol, people’s ability to critique others based on talent, appearance and general personality was limited to high school.

No longer! Idol and its sister shows allowed scathing evaluations to run rampant online.

A perfect example of this was William Hung, whose cringeworthy season two rendition of ‘She Bangs’ went viral.

You can lose a reality show but win an Oscar

Jennifer Hudson came seventh in Americal Idol season three. She lost out to Fantasia Barrino.

Two years later, out of the blue, Hudson appeared in Dreamgirls alongside Beyonce.

Unlike her turn on Idol, she stole the show, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Today she’s a regular feature on movie screens and the radio.

Meanwhile, Fantasia Barrino is nowhere to be seen.

Ryan Seacrest is the ultimate television host

Not only did American Idol mark the reality TV revival, it also launched the career of one pint-sized, sandy haired television star.

Ryan Seacrest was just another 27-year-old when he was hired to host the reality show.

It soon became clear Seacrest has that special something – a combination of non-threatening good looks, effortless charm and expertise in defusing awkward moments.

The now 40-year-old has a net worth of around US$300 million and a radio and television empire which includes the highly lucrative Keeping Up with the Kardashians series.

If you can’t make it, put other people down

Particularly in the first season of the series, those judging the nervous, timid contestants were substantially lacking in, ahem, talent and fame.

In fact, it was really the show itself which jump-started the careers of Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell.

Before that, they were essentially just a burnt-out dancer, a lesser-known Jackson sibling and a grumpy English guy.

The irony of having three random D-listers telling others they won’t make it in the industry was too good to resist.

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