Reality Check Finale: American Idol's Best ('Tasia!) & Worst (Randy?) Ever! Plus: Trent Wins, Allison Rocks & More

This is how Reality Check ends — not with a whimper, but a bang.

Since TVLine’s launch in 2011, we’ve been bringing you a weekly deep dive into all things American Idol — hosted by yours truly, upgraded starting in 2012 by “Season 6 standout” Melinda Doolittle’s mic-dropping expertise and edited to madness and beyond by “the great Jason Averett.” Reality Check was itself an upgrade of Idolatry — an EW.com series that launched in 2007 — and I’d be remiss if I didn’t pause here to thank TVLine’s trusty leader Michael Ausiello for his unwavering support of our Idoloonie agenda.

But, really, enough about us!

The Reality Check series finale — unlike Idol‘s swan song — spares a few moments to break down Season 15’s Trent-vs.-La’Porsha battle, and then reviews the Nigel Lythgoe-produced two-hour finale: The triumphs (Carly! Pia!); the head-scratchers (Kara Dioguardi! Pants on the Ground!); and the outrages (where was the much-needed tribute to Michael Johns and Joanne Borgella?).

After that, what Melinda and I do is go back — wayyyy back — and dish our picks for the greatest performance in show history (and, naturally, the worst); best season; best and worst judges; best post-show experience; and much, much more.

Can you handle almost 40 minutes in the deep end of the American Idol pool? You know there’ll be blasts from the past like Aloha Mischeaux, Mishavonna Henson and Jesse Langseth — but we’ve also got backstage finale footage of Jordin Sparks, Pia Toscano, Kimberley Locke, Nick Fradiani, Joshua Ledet and more!

Press PLAY above for Part 1 — and below for Parts 2 and 3 — of the Reality Check series finale, then share your own Idol memories in the comments. Thanks, as always, for watching, commenting and keeping it real — and goodbye… for now.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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151 Comments
  1. Rob says:

    Thank you to Melinda, Jason, and Michael for giving us these amazing shows. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it’s enhanced my Idol experience. You guys are the absolute best.

    • Sally says:

      Seconded. I’ve been watching faithfully since the ew.com days, and like many others, look forward to these shows more than Idol itself and feel quite bereft during the off-season! Thanks to all of you… for now.

      • Kate says:

        ME TOO, and I was so happy to realize recently that a good number of old videos with Slezak, Kristen and the gang are still viewable on ew.com.

        • Kate, they are? I’ve seen a couple of end-of-Season 7 recaps and everything from Season 8 onward, but not the entire S7 or anything earlier and I have googled. How do I find the oldest vids?

          I had no idea MIchael has been covering the show since 2004.

          • Kate says:

            Go here: http://search.ew.com/?q=idolatry
            In my experience poking through, any link that has a photo next to it still has the video. Of the links that have the ew.com logo, some have video, but in most the video is gone. Can you tell this has been my favorite procrastination in the last few months?

          • Kate says:

            Hmmm my comment didn’t appear, maybe because it had a link? And, whoops, the link was for one of TVL’s inferior competition… In any case, go to EW’s site and search “idolatry.” Of the links that appear, the ones with video next to them still have the original video. Some of the ones that have EW’s logo next to them still have video but most don’t.

        • Alan Dvorkis says:

          Thanks for letting me know. I was going to ask if they are available.

    • I completely agree. These videos were such a highlight of my week. I watched them long after I’d stopped watching Idol.
      And thanks for mentioning Season 7 because there would have been some shoes thrown if you hadn’t … and not in the awesome Melinda way! :)

      Thank you for caring as much as we did … and not being afraid to let your crazy out of the living room. :)

    • Greg Cantin says:

      Rob said it all. I just hope there is a future that includes you guys returning to the web in a similar fashion.
      Thanks!

    • sara says:

      So true. That is exactly how I feel. Looking forward catch you again soon.

  2. I haven’t watched the videos yet but NO, I can’t even deal. The last episode ever? I’ll miss Mike and Melinda talking about the Voice and about any damn thing they please! Thank you and Jason for all your years of service!

    MIchael I hope you continue to promote the music of former idol and voice contestants: several have albums, singles and tours coming out right now: Joey Cook, Quentin Alexander, Haley Reinhart, Allison Iraheta (may your beloved maligned girls get their happy endings…)

  3. sweetsmoke1 says:

    Can we stop already with the best and worst lists now that Idol kicked the bucket? It’s meaningless…just one person’s opinion. We each have our own best and worst lists…the only list that really matters.

  4. Kate says:

    I’m not ready to watch this yet, but I want to say I am legitimately a little choked up about this being the end. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Reality Check may technically be a web show about an aging reality show, but for me, it was a much-needed pick-me-up on dark days or sleepless nights. I’ve watched the episodes over and over, finding new things to laugh about each time.

    Thank you Michael, Melinda and Jason for talking to us like we were as smart and thoughtful as you are, even when Idol treated us like we were idiots. (Remember that wild card “tiebreaker” that only included one contestant?) Thank you for giving light and credit to the true artists that the show sidelined (How IS Aloha Mi’sho doing these days, Slezak?) and holding the judges accountable, even in only in our TV nerd corner of the internet.

    Special props to Jason, who only reinforced his brilliance when he was absent a few episodes. May Brie Larson one day be yours.

    And thanks fellow commenters for the years of banter and discussion. Now let go of your love for Clay Aiken.

    Seacrest, and Kate, out.

  5. imrah says:

    If you ever decide to publish a book about everything you covered in season 8, 2009..all discussion, interviews & all the comments posted by fans of contestants that season. .count me in…you know, u can make a small fortune off of it…think about it…there will be huge demand i bet you.

  6. Thea says:

    Another who has yet to watch, because if I don’t maybe it’s not really over? *sniff* Thank you from the bottom of my Idoloonie heart Michael for all the many years of your commentary, holleration and down right ridiculata. And to Melinda, I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate like I should have from the very first note of your audition. I know better now. (Keep saaangin’ Heffa!!!) I love you both (and Jason and his Buffy clips and Allison-loving), and hope we get something like Reality Check again in the near future. ✌🏻️

  7. AlyB says:

    Omg this actually had me tearing up. I’ve loved watching these since Idoloonie days. You’ve made the entire Idol experience more complete with your humor and insight. Thank you Michael, Melinda and Jason for all the work you’ve put into these shows. I can’t even count how many times I said I couldn’t wait to see what you all would say about something that went on on the show. I know we’ll still have you for The Voice but Idol will always have a special place in my heart as will you because for me, you were an integral part of it.

  8. Lking says:

    Having difficulty playing the three videos as they were stopping so I’ll try to watch later when not so many people aren’t on the site. Last espisodes very well done. I’ll miss you both as much as I miss Idol. Might have to start watching the Voice but really don’t like the show. Idol was special, even the last years when it was struggling.

  9. Brent says:

    Michael, Melinda, and Jason,

    Thank you. For being a part of the Idol journey with us.

    Just…thank you.

  10. Michael says:

    Wow…just when I thought that I had finally moved on from mourning/celebrating the series finale…here comes another giant wave of nostalgia!

    Thank you, Michael and Melinda and JASON(!!!), SO much for all of your hard work and insightful commentary throughout the years. I remember watching Idology (Idolatry?) on EW.com back in high school and it’s so crazy to think about how the show has stayed with me after all these years, as I’ve moved through different stages of my life.

    Part of me wishes that you would still make videos about The Voice, but in reality I understand that this show has and always will be about Idol.

    I wish all the best to both of you and I bid you farewell…for now.

  11. Stanislava says:

    Thank you,Michael,Melinda and Jason for Idolatry and Reality Check!You guys are the best!I’ll miss you more than Idol xx

  12. Tom says:

    I’ve been a regular Reality Check/Idolatry/Idoloonie viewer for years. It’s hard to put into words how much I’ve watching enjoyed Michael and Melinda’s hilarious banter and Jason’s flawless editing on a weekly basis. It was something I always looked forward to, and I’m so sad that it’s come to an end. I just want you all to know how grateful I am that you took the time to do this for us Idol fans, and that this final installment was worth the wait. I’m going to miss watching you guys so much, though hopefully it won’t be forever. And ya’ll better be putting up the Wall of Shade on Twitter during The Voice! :D

  13. Thank all you guys that were part of it, it did became the cherry on the ice cream called Idol (some weeks even more interesting that the real show).
    Slezak most of the times sharing the same favorites than me (and cursing them to be able to win, apart from a couple), funny remarks (the video of Slezak singing This is My Now and the child crying? Never laugh so hard in a while). Jason´s edition and montages, precious!! (lmao at Alisson THE ROCKER).
    And god, Melinda, we knew from her journey on the show how talented she is but what a surprise to see her funny personality, her spot on view on the performances, all ther knowledge (if Idol returns, she should be a house mentor, AT LEAST).

  14. K says:

    That was the shortest 40 minutes of my life, lol. I’m going to miss American Idol, but I’m going to miss Reality Check even more. The highlight of my week from January to April every year. Thanks for the memories, Michael, Melinda and Jason!

    Also, I wish that the old episodes of Idolatry/Idoloonies/Idology were still up somewhere. There are a couple of them on YouTube, but most of them seem to be gone. In other words, I really wish there was a Idolatry/Idoloonies/Idology/Reality Check box set that I could own, lol.

  15. Bryan says:

    I s this really goodbye???

    ….. for now?

  16. Karen OConnell says:

    Love you guys! Thanks for the years of wonderful work and entertainment, and I’ll always cherish the honor of co-hosting an episode of Idoloonies. <3

  17. So much nostalgia in this!! So many memories. Makes me want to go back and watch old Idolatry videos. Anyone know of a way to see all of the vids from, like, season 6 and 7? Wish they were still available online!

  18. kcostell says:

    Saying this is the final Reality Check is like saying Danny Gokey finished third in season 8. Sure, it’s technically true. But we don’t have to believe it.

    Thank you Jason, Melinda, and Michael. You’ve been a highlight of each week for me for several months of the last several years.

  19. grrrrrr says:

    1. Thank you for another recap. cannot believe this is THE LAST on American Idol!! loved your comments (sometimes!) and all of Jason screen caps
    2. thank you for mentioning Michael Johns. this is the homage he was supposed to get on finale night.
    3. Doctor Who Rocks!!
    4. Allison Rocks!!
    5. too bad you never mentioned the lack of participation of season 15 contestants in the finale. I guess they were just the background for the celebrations. so Michael what do you think of the top 3 after you interviewed them?
    6. Jason Rocks!! loved his screen caps. the best part of these recaps were always his comments below while Michael and Melinda blubber about..

  20. Hannah says:

    This was a perfect finale. I love Reality Check and I always refused to watch new Idol eps until I’d seen the previous week’s ep of your show because you both made me think more critically in the right ways about the contestants and their performances.

    Jason’s edits never failed to make me laugh aloud (or cheer) and I always looked forward to what clips would be included. Melinda and Michael I appreciated how open you both were in each episode and that neither of you were afraid to debate the important issues (like whether or not a contestant actually deserved the grade Michael gave them).

    Melinda, Season 6 was the the second season I watched Idol in it’s entirety and I adored you from day one. Being Canadian, I couldn’t actually vote but I was rooting for you week after week and I remember the complete shock I felt when the results of the vote in top 3 weeks were announced. You are incredible and if I ever get the opportunity to see you perform live, it will make my life!

    Michael, thank you for always bringing your enthusiasm and passion for the show with you in both your recaps.grades and in Reality Check episodes. Over the years I have come to really respect and value your opinion and more than once I stayed up way past my bedtime in the hopes of getting to read your full performance opinions before I slept. Thank you for making Reality Check the amazing entity that it became.

    Michael Ausiello, thank you for making it possible for these amazingly wonderful and talented people to share their passion for American Idol with us week after week. While I’m sad to see American Idol go, I’m ever more upset to see Reality Check end… for now.

    Hannah

  21. Macontosh2000 says:

    Let me add to the “I am going to miss reality check” comments.
    I haven’t really enjoyed idol much since the Haley Reinhart season, but I kept watching because I didn’t want to quit watching your show.

  22. wendie says:

    didn’t want to watch this, it is kinda like not wanting to get out of the car at a funeral, it makes it real that it is the end. And I got a bit teary.

    Been a fan since idoloonie days when I stumbled across one of the clips by accident and I was hooked.

    Michael and Melinda thank you for all the laughs and insights and fun all these years. I looked forward to your show more than AI! Hope you collaborate on something again soon..

    And yes, I still think Jesse Langseth was robbed too, and one of the reasons I never liked Simon. He always pushed his agenda with a contestant and manipulated the viewing audience. He didn’t like her from the start, he did that with a lot of people. If it wasn’t his taste he quashed them. I think he was the reason VFTW picked up steam, keeping people in just to piss Simon off.

    Not to end on a negative note, it’s been a great run and thank you again!

  23. Mik says:

    “This ain’t the end of this… this ain’t the end of this thing. See you later!”

  24. Gemma says:

    Melinda, Michael, Jason – thank you so much for all these years of Reality Check. For a few years now, this has been the only way I’ve watched Idol because I could count on you to bring me the highlights, hilarious insights, and actual critique that didn’t make me want to hurl things at the TV. I’m genuinely gutted and quite emotional that there will not be another episode of Reality Check (for now!).

    I’ve been watching Reality Check since it was called Idolatry on EW and apart from some of the talent to come out of Idol, it has by far been my favorite part of the Idol viewing experience.

    Thank you so much for your humor, your talent, your rewarding of contestants that did not get rewarded on the actual show (Haley Reinhart, to name one of many), and for providing the greatest recap show on the internet.

    And as a last thank you, I was just as disappointed/furious that the Idol finale didn’t manage to acknowledge the passing of Michael Johns, so thank you for covering it and making me smile and cry in the process.

  25. ely says:

    Thank you Michael, Melinda, and Jason. No other Idol reviews mattered other than yours and the entertainment and humour you cooked together is the dessert after a buffet of the main idol show. Your ingredients are so sweet, tasty, spicey and sinful that you need to have another show.

    Thank you. I hope you are all well paid.
    (or i bet someone from idol is paying you to do this show?!!!)

    Ely

  26. JAO says:

    Michael, Melinda and JASON … you guys made my week so enjoyable watching Reality Check. I felt like I am part of your family as well. Thank you for a most enjoyable ride. Thanks too, TVLine & Ausellio for this feature. Hope we can do this again…

  27. Elisa Owen says:

    Thank you so much Michael, Melinda and Jason for a wonderful enhancement of my Idol experience! I am a longtime viewer (I actually used bootleg internet to watch Reality Check from China because I refused to miss it) and fan and this journey has been a great one.

  28. Mary says:

    Darn it you made me tear up guys but it was worth the wait. Thank you ALL for the time and devotion it took to make RC happen. I was actually ready for a break from American Idol, but I will miss the many hours of laughter you brought every week. We made not always have agreed on things but you made it so enjoyable. Till we meet again. Thank you.

  29. Muriel says:

    Watching this made me all chocked up! Thank you for bringing us this awesome show for all these years!

  30. Kathy says:

    Thank you, Michael, Melinda, Jason and Michael for allowing me to witness this after-Idolloonieness known as Reality Check.

    As for me. I gotta stop eating onions right before these finale shows. Such as this one. I always seem to tear up.

    That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  31. karenb says:

    Can’t watch right now, at work, but just wanted to say that I love the Kris/Adam screen shot. S8 was the best. Idolatry was hysterical too. Ah, the memories

  32. lori says:

    Well, this has been all of American Idol that I have seen since Pia Toscano got booted, but I’m sure it was better than the show itself. I’ve never missed this, and I still laugh about the whole Kristen with Glasses segments done on the other news outlet. Anyway, thanks, I will miss you and thanks for the laughs. I hope you will consider continuing with The Voice maybe?

  33. KR says:

    Thank you Melinda and Michael for the reviews. I gave up on American Idol after Simon left, but I always watched Reality Check for the recap and insight. Thank you Jason for the terrific editing.

  34. Lauren says:

    Ok, I just shut the door to my office and unashamedly stole 30 min of my work day to watch this! PRIORITIES. I love guys so much thank you for all the insight and entertainment these last few years. I’m going to miss Idol even more because I’m also missing Reality Check. Blerg.

  35. Leena says:

    These listings really don’t make sense since everyone has his or her own opinion on whose performance was the best or performances were the best. I only watched since 2006, so I haven’t heard all of those performances. I certainly didn’t agree about the order of the top 10 since my favorite was not no 1, but for me he is and will always be the best American Idol. All of his performances are the most important and best performances for me.

    As for American Idol itself, I will miss very very deeply. It’s been my favorite TV program since 2006 and I’ve been happy to see my favorite winner in the show so many times after his season. I do hope AI will return in some form or another. Thank you very much for all these years.

  36. Larc says:

    Michael, Melinda and Jason, huge thanks for your wondrous gift of Reality Check. I would have a hard time deciding whether I liked Idol or RC better. The weekly editions made Idol so much more for me than it would have been otherwise. Note to Michael: Bringing Melinda on board was a total stroke of genius!

  37. Sebastian says:

    Love you guys so much, really really gonna miss this

  38. Hmmmmmmmmmmm says:

    It’s so unreal that Reality Check is over. The best part of the Idol experience, in my opinion. So much greatness from you two. I am sad that it’s over (for now) but thanks for being awesome. I dont like getting invested in a lot of these social things but Idology is def. one I love. I remember seeing Melipenda at a Michael W. Smith concert a long time ago and have been a fan since. Michael is hilarious and such a great personality and really needs to get more shows cause I’d watch ’em.
    To end the final season of Idol and Idology, my list of top Idol contestants are:
    1) Kelly Clarkson
    2) Fantasia Barrino
    3) Candice Glover/Jessica Sanchez (I can’t choose)
    4) Hailey Reinhart
    5) Joshua Ledet
    6) Carrie Underwood
    7) Melinda Doolittle
    8) David Cook
    9) Allison Iraheta
    10) Jennifer Hudson
    11) Laporsha Ranae
    12) Jordin Sparks
    13) Ruben Studdard
    14) Chris Daughtry
    15) Trent Harmon
    16) Michael Johns
    17) Elliot Yamin
    18) Clay Aiken
    19) Elise Testone
    20) Kree Harrison

    • Alan Dvorkis says:

      I am shocked at the Trent Harmon love. I totally do not get him. In many ways, that is what made Idol great.

    • gary says:

      I pretty much agree with the top 20 list. I did enjoy Crystal Bowersox and i would put her in the top 10.

  39. Annabelle says:

    I don’t understand why you two can keep recapping shows forever. I’m so sad this is over. Thanks for everything.

  40. Glenn Franklin says:

    Thank you Melinda, Michael, and Jason for making a show I loved even better! Your show in all of its forms (idoloonies, idolatry, #RealityCheck) is why the internet exists.

  41. Christine Solomon says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have enjoyed you, Michael and Melinda, more than I can put into words. I have smiled, laughed and now cried knowing I will not get to enjoy American Idol Reality Check again.

  42. Woodmeister says:

    Jason, Michael, Melinda. Thanks for everything. Reality Check will be missed.

  43. Does anyone have a fix for the video being stuck on “loading”?

  44. Spitey Spice says:

    Thank you Michael, Melinda, and Jason. The Michael Johns tribute was just perfect. Thank you Melinda for sharing your experiences with him–he sounds like exactly what I expected. :) I’m sad to see Reality Check go, but I suppose my productivity thanks you…

  45. I thought I was done crying about the end of Idol and then the last Reality Check came along.

  46. You won’t be continuing Reality Check for The Voice?

  47. fatalsin says:

    why not do the voice?

  48. lizzieB says:

    I know the Idols are always gonna be around making music and I’m there to support them, but I’ll always miss the way I got to know them on my screen, what they brought to the show, and the beautiful moments they had.

    Will never forget Melinda’s amazing run on the first season I religiously watched. Cook (LOVE his new stuff!) and Archie, and Syesha, Carly and Michael Johns and Brooke and Jason on my most favorite season ever (I rewatch parts of it still today).
    Matt Giraud (I love ya forever Matt! <3) and Kris Allen (I still get chills when I think of his Falling Slowly performance, was obsessed with the movie Once around that time and went nuts when he sang that on the show), and of course Adam Lambert, his royal awesomeness.

    After that I couldn't watch the show regularly anymore, but still look to it for new artists I can follow and support like Colton, Kree, Candice, Clark, Rayvon, Quentin (still cannot believe he isn't signed, he has such a current sound!), Joey Cook and now Trent! Haley Reinhart has me most excited for more stuff she'll be doing in the future. She's too amazing for words. Her new single Better is great!

    Thank you Michael and Melinda, Jason and TVline for this super fun segment. To me, Idol made much more sense because of you guys. Whenever I got a bit frustrated with the show, I could always turn to Idoloonie, Idolatry, Idology and Reality Check for a good laugh and some really great insight. Thank youuuu!!!

  49. John says:

    Damn y’all for making me cry by ending w/Melinda singing “Home.” Damn you!

    I know it’s the end, but to paraphrase the 10th Doctor, I don’t want you to go! Thanks to all three of you for all that you’ve done to extend the joy that this show has brought so many people. Y’all have been a voice of reason when it seems like the Idol world is turned upside down (Haley!). And Melinda, you need to tour more! Jus’sayin…

  50. Alan Dvorkis says:

    It is hard to not feel send when there is an end. Even though Idol lost its way, it still had enough entertainment, enough potential surprise to make viewing mandatory. Reality Check has become must watch for me also. I was late to the party. I am happy to read that many early shows are still available. I feel privileged to have watched the last three years with Michael and Melinda. Even when the editor was not around, their talks brought joy. I join the others in saying “thanks” for making at least a bit of my day a bit brighter. American Idol may have deteriorated over the last several years, but the final week, the final three shows were all very special. Unlike Idol, your talks with Melinda were always that way.