''American Idol''

Crushed Velvet

Ruben in the bottom two? Josh safe? EW.com readers wonder what's going on

Simon Cowell, Ruben Studdard | ROOTIN' FOR RUBEN The 205 resident didn't look half as shocked as Simon when the teddy bear's name was announced
ROOTIN' FOR RUBEN The 205 resident didn't look half as shocked as Simon when the teddy bear's name was announced

EW.com readers wonder if the show's rigged

Anybody know if there's a world record on the books for Loudest Synchronized Gasp?

Most of the people who posted on our ''American Idol'' message board were beyond shocked by the fact that Ruben Studdard -- the velvet teddy bear, the ''205'' talent, the judges' clear favorite -- was half of the bottom two for Wednesday's elimination show. Though ultimately he was sent back to the couch with the other finalists (diva-in-the-making Trenyce got cut), some readers were already crafting their conspiracy theories:

ARTY
THE END LAST NIGHT SEEMED PHONEY AND STAGED. SINCE NO ONE REALLY KNOWS THE VOTE, IT WAS THEATER TO PUT RUBEN IN THERE, JUST TO GET AMERICA USPETS, CAUSE SOME CONTROVERSY, AND GIVE AMERICA A REASON TO WATCH THE LAST 10 MINUTES.

Richard
American Idol should not let its voting be hi-jacked by a group of marines or patriots (of which I am one) or next season no one will be watching the new series or the Junior series. Lets get some control over the voting.

mmyelke
LAST NIGHT'S FIASCO WAS JUST A RATINGS BOOSTER, NOTHING MORE. THIS IS SWEEPS MONTH, YA KNOW!!!

Sure, a handful of you agreed that Ruben has stagnated in the competition and deserved his bottom-two spot, but a whopping 75 percent who took our ''American Idol'' poll thought Josh would be the one sent back to barracks. One Tuesday poster was so sure the Marine would be gone that he offered up a suggestion for this article:

Tomorrow's headline:
''No Saving Gracin'' or ''Marine Lands''?

Indeed, Josh took the most criticism for his performances this week (and for his borderline-threat sassing of Simon):

sher
Josh, lighten up and learn to take criticism. Do you use that same type of talkback to your higher-ups in the military? I think not.

Michelle
How in the heck did Josh even make it through the preliminary tryouts? Does he take each judge aside and tell them that he knows one hundred ways to kill a man?

Still, a few were a little more kind in their opinions of the military man:

jason
Although I agree that Josh should have been the one to go, it certainly wasn't his fault that he wasn't. Unless you called in and voted for Ruben or Trenyce, you have no right to complain about the results.

So why didn't Ruben get more call-in votes? One reason may be that viewers are annoyed by what they see as favoritism toward the big guy and the other popular finalist, Clay (who had special lighting for his performance of ''Solitaire''):

Ann
I resent the judges telling me who to vote for. I think I am quite able to make up my own mind, and I really don't like comments from Randy, for example, telling Ruben that he has already won the competition, especially when he had yet to hear the others sing.

Andrew W.
It seems that Ryan and the producers hype up Ruben and Clay's performances much more than the others. Is that why Josh looks so unhappy every week?

In any case, one reader tried to put everything in perspective:

Pkelly
Relax, people. Who got the boot first last year: Tamyra or Nikki? Tamyra's got a CD and regular TV role. Nikki hosts a karaoke night in Austin. Talent will win out.

What do you think the outcome will be on ''American Idol''?

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Originally posted May 01, 2003