Mike Windle/Getty Images
Emily Blake
January 06, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EST

American Idol is ending, and Clay Aiken thinks he knows why. 

The season 2 runner-up tuned in Wednesday night for the show’s last season premiere — his first time watching the reality competition “in a decade,” he says — and about 20 minutes in, he already had a theory on why Fox pulled the plug.

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The judges he’s referring to — the ones allegedly more boring than a notoriously painful endodontic procedure — are Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban. Simon Cowell was still on the panel when Aiken competed (and ultimately lost to Ruben Studdard) back in 2003, as were Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Cowell, known for his unapologetically harsh and often hilarious insults, left the show in 2010, not even a year after Paula Abdul announced her exit. Jackson followed suit in 2014.

Fox announced in May that season 15 will be Idol’s last, with CEO Gary Newman calling it “not an easy decision.” 

American Idol has been such a vital part of Fox for its run, and we spent a lot of time talking with producers about the future of American Idol and collectively we arrived at the conclusion that it was time to bring the show to an end,” Newman said at the time. “But we wanted to do it in a way that felt special and celebratory and treated the show the way it deserved to be treated.”

Only one question remains: Just how many root canals has Aiken watched?

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