Carrie Underwood performing at the American Idol finale (AP Photo)
While America has long embraced the idea that everyone is a potential star — that means you — 'American Idol' coined an updated version of the dream. Its nationwide tryouts opened the door to people in big cities and small towns and made the shot at fame and success democratic by letting fans weigh in.
Fox's competitors responded. The networks that were increasingly favoring reality shows over scripted dramas began searching for their own talent show hits, spawning everything from skating to dance contests.
Some remain, such as ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars' and NBC's 'The Voice,' which overtook the aging "American Idol" in the ratings.
No other TV talent show has achieved the same track record of fame for contestants, although the power of an "Idol" win ebbed in recent years. But dreamers didn't let go, with about 75,000 people swarming to auditions in five cities this season.
The show's ratings slumped, the fate of even durable TV performers. 'Idol,' which averaged more than 30 million weekly viewers at its 2006 peak and ranked No. 1 for nine consecutive years, averaged about 11 million last season (still enough by today's standards to land it in the top 20, but with fewer advertiser-favored younger viewers).
It's pulled about the same viewership this year, despite its well-publicized farewell season.
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