American Idol's Elimination Problem: Give Us More Time to Say Goodbye!

American Idol Season 17

For a show that claims to love creating big “moments,” American Idol sure is willfully missing out on some golden opportunities this season.

I’m referring to the show’s elimination process. Once a staple of the Idol experience, it has essentially been reduced to an afterthought. For all the time and energy ABC devotes to endearing its contestants to the viewers, it’s kind of shocking how those same contestants are quickly, unceremoniously booted from the stage when it’s revealed that they aren’t moving forward.

This is a far cry from days of Idol past, when the eliminated contestants were not only forced to watch a video montage of their journey but also had to sing live for America one last time. It was painful, it was devastating, it was… thrilling. Especially when tears were shed. (Yeah, I’m that guy in the coliseum chanting, “We paid for blood!” Sue me.)

For proof of how powerful a proper elimination can be, look no further than this video (with terrible audio, sorry!) of Chris Daughtry’s surprising sendoff from back in Season 5:

In this instance, Idol devoted an entire three minutes — which may not sound like a lot… yet — to Daughtry, giving him enough time to relive his experience and croon a decent amount of Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds,” while his legion of heartbroken supporters soaked in this last big moment by which to remember him. (Little did they know, he’d be just fine.)

One season earlier, nearly six minutes were devoted to Constantine Maroulis’ elimination, a dramatic ordeal that included 30 seconds of judge Paula Abdul struggling to find words:

Now let’s jump ahead to the current season: By the time Ryan Seacrest cued Kieran Healy to “dim the lights” during last Sunday’s episode, only 2 minutes and 45 seconds remained in the broadcast. Two minutes later, we finally knew who was going home, which left only 45 seconds for Catie Turner and Jurnee to say their goodbyes. And by “say their goodbyes,” I mean they got to hug while Seacrest yelled, “Let’s hear it for Jurnee and Catie, ladies and gentlemen!” before throwing them a few pity claps.

I understand that the show may see more value in promoting its winners than its losers, but surely we could be spared a few minutes of the judges’ ramblings — like when Katy Perry spent so long fanning herself over Cade Foehner that the show actually had to cut her off with music, Oscars-style — in favor of giving these talented singers the sendoffs they deserve.

Now that we know Idol is coming back for a second 17th season on ABC, let’s hope the producers do some soul-searching over the hiatus and carve out some time for the eliminations next year.

What say you, Idol Nation? Do you miss the long, drawn out goodbyes? Or am I making a big deal out of nothing? Drop a comment with your thoughts below.

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