Image Credit: FoxFor nigh on many seasons now, fans of American Idol have grown accustomed to watching the wannabe superstars who flood into Hollywood each season dissolve into puddles of tears and heartache amid the pressure (and sleep deprivation) of the competition, the devastation of getting cut, and even the elation of making it on to the next round. Year after year, it always makes for a fizzy cocktail of empathy and melodrama, spiked with a shot of schadenfreude — in other words, it’s usually darn good television.

But watching Jennifer Lopez crumple into the ugly cry in the face of (SPOILER ALERT!) letting contestant Chris Medina go? Chris Medina, the young man whose audition package and backstory reduced this hardened Idol-covering veteran to spill his own copious tears, but whose later performances (when we got to see them, anyhow) were decidedly, and unfortunately, kinda meh? And Jennifer Lopez, the kind of superlatively gorgeous, A-list-y mega-star who is only ever allowed to be that vulnerably, emotionally naked in front of a national television audience when accepting an Academy Award for Best Actress?

Now that was some damn good TV.

It helped that Steven Tyler provided his own, quieter-but-no-less-powerful display of emotion when he softly kissed Chris on the cheek, twice. And that Tyler and Randy Jackson felt compelled to comfort Lopez like kind older brothers. Was it perhaps all a bit much? Yup. Did it become far more about the judges than Medina? Totally. Doesn’t that fly in the face of the show’s insistence that it’s all about the contestants, a claim producers had up to that point done a solid job of backing up? Oh you bet.

Doesn’t matter: I was still riveted to my television. But tell me, PopWatchers, were you?

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