It's the end of an era, everyone, and I'm not even sure how to feel about it. While American Idol's ratings haven't been the best in recent seasons, certainly not to the heights that it once achieved when it was churning out stars like Kelly Clarkson and Jordin Sparks, the show seemed like a pop cultural staple that would last forever. Except for how American idol is ending after Season 15, according to E! News. The final season, which will premiere January 2016, will feature Ryan Seacrest as host, as well as returning judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban. It seriously feels like my childhood is ending here, so I understand if you need a moment to process this news.
The final season is slated to be a celebration of all 14 seasons of the show, which is all the detail that we're getting about it. There's no word yet on who will be featured, on how many episodes there will be, or on how many boxes of Kleenex we'll need to get through the show's last hurrah. The only thing that we do know for sure is that the tissues will be needed. Whether you were a huge Idol fan, whether you lost interest after a while, or whether you think star search reality shows are unnecessary, American Idol is iconic.
I was a member of the middle camp. While I remember fondly the season that turned Kelly Clarkson into a star, as well as the season that introduced me to Clay Aiken, there came a time when I began to find Simon Cowell horrifically rude rather than hilariously blunt and, eventually, found other ways to fill my time. However, I never once thought that American Idol was a show that would ever die. It's been parodied, it's been referenced, and it has utterly defined a generation as the go-to show for finding a star and then turning them into a full-fledged celebrity. While the judging line-up has changed from the days when I used to watch Idol religiously, the formula has remained the same, and it has kept the dream of instant stardom alive.
All good things must come to an end, sure, but Idol isn't just a good thing. It's a legend. It's iconic. It's been more than just a show for such a long time that imagining a world without it will just be, well, weird. Then again, we won't have to imagine a world without it. Not completely. Idol is so ingrained in our cultural zeitgeist that it doesn't need to be on air to remain a legend. It's like Total Request Live — decades after the show stopped airing, people are still referencing it and clamoring for it to make a comeback. Maybe we need to see Idol come to an end to remember exactly what it is that we loved so much about it. Maybe we need to talk about Idol more than we're able to actually watch Idol in order for the magic of the reality show competition to truly hit us again. Maybe this is that time.
Even though Season 15 will be the last season of Idol, the show will go down in history, and in our hearts, for bringing us the judging combination of Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson, for giving us our Kelly Clarksons, Jennifer Hudsons, Jordin Sparkses, and Clay Aikens, for making us believe that superstardom was as easy as being chosen to appear on an iconic Fox show. American Idol can be over, but it will never, ever be forgotten.
Image: Matthias Vriens-McGrath/FOX; Getty Images