Good-bye Downton Abbey, American Idol

By Christina Ryan Claypool - Contributing Columnist

“You can tell when someone is married, because they live their lives around the shows on TV,” the waitress said with dejected resignation in her voice. I couldn’t help but overhear her comment, as I was eating supper in a restaurant last year.

I know it’s wrong to eavesdrop, but the uniform-clad server made this statement rather loudly to a couple of female coworkers, while seeming to lament that her life wasn’t more thrilling. I couldn’t help but contemplate how important television can be not only for married people, but for countless individuals.

Most sources inform us that TV watching is detrimental to our physical health. For instance, a Harvard study reported that just two hours of television viewing a day “was linked to a 20 percent greater risk of developing diabetes and 15 percent increased odds of having heart disease” according to

But then, these researchers must never have had the pleasure of anticipating what would happen on the next installment of their favorite TV series. For example, like those of us who were Downton Abbey fans, and I use the word “were” with great angst, because the series came to a smashing end last month. In the last episode, writer Julian Fellowes did more in one night to resolve dramatic conflict than most of us have done in our lifetimes. It was a bittersweet farewell.

As for saying good-bye to a favorite TV show, I can’t even imagine what is happening in the hearts of millions of American youth who have grown up with the dream that they would become the next American Idol. In the past 15 seasons, the program has catapulted Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Scotty McCreery along with other young musicians to fame by winning the coveted title.

There are also contestants like: Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, and Clay Aiken who didn’t have to win to become famous. More importantly, it gave those of us who watched the show, something to look forward to during the bleakest months of winter when snow and ice often trapped us in our Ohio homes.

Now American Idol fans have come to the Farewell Season, and let me tell you there are lots of us. People of all ages, and demographic backgrounds seem to enjoy watching young people sing their hearts out each week. Then we listen intently, as the contenders stand in front of the judges following their performances.

Sometimes, the critiques are a bit brutal, but recent judges: Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban, try to give their opinions without being vicious or demeaning. The show has come a long way from the days when judge Simon Cowell would cut a contestant to shreds with his caustic sarcasm, leaving even viewers who agreed with his assessment, wondering why it had to be done so nastily.

The first season of American Idol started in June 2002. It wasn’t even wintertime blues that propelled the show to success, but maybe the fact that Kelly Clarkson was the first Idol winner had something to do with it. Americans came back for more in season two.

Before long, the show became a tradition. Those of us who are older and enjoyed watching it for entertainment purposes, can’t really understand the disappointment and disillusionment that the program’s cancellation could be having on the younger generation.

In the end, it is the death of the dream that is going to be difficult for some of our nation’s youth to embrace. From the time some contestants were toddlers, they have shared stories of their desire to appear on the American Idol stage. Now, that goal of becoming a pop icon will no longer be a reality for all the kids who have grown up with this hope.

There are more than 70 shows being cancelled this year. If one of them is your favorite, you might be experiencing your own type of loss saying, “Good-bye.” Or maybe if the show started out on a good note and has morphed into something less than stellar, it might be less of saying, “Good-bye,” and rather like saying, “Good riddance.”

American Idol and Downton Abbey are the only cancelled shows my hubby and I will miss. As a married couple, we will definitely miss them being part of our lives. So, I guess the waitress was partly right. What she got wrong was the part about it being a less-than thrilling existence, being a fan. It’s been a real blast.

By Christina Ryan Claypool

Contributing Columnist

Christina Ryan Claypool is an award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at

Christina Ryan Claypool is an award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at


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