Spoilers ahead for the Season 16 finale of American Idol.
American Idol made its triumphant return to primetime earlier this year with an ABC revival that put some new twists on an old favorite. Sure, while some elements of the show -- including host Ryan Seacrest -- were the same on ABC as they were during the series' original run on Fox, the revival featured new judges and a new way of judges interacting with the contestants. Since the revival premiered back in March, the judges and the voters have whittled down the thousands of hopefuls until only three remained ahead of the big finale. Now, the finale has finally aired, and we know who won: Maddie Poppe. Congrats, Maddie!
The three finalists who made it to the finale were Gabby Barrett, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, and Maddie Poppe. Given that the finale was a two-hour event, there was a lot of time to kill before the big announcement in the final minutes of the episode. Ryan Seacrest brought back past competitors for performances and skits, and viewers were sent on blasts from the past with reels of shenanigans from the season as a whole. Even Jimmy Kimmel popped out for a gag involving a time capsule, Season 6 finalist Sanjaya Malakar, Season 6 finalist Sanjaya Malakar's hair, and various other mementos from the original run of the series. Eventually, however, Seacrest got down to business and eliminated one of the contestants: Gabby Barrett.
Going into the finale, Gabby seemed like a major contender to take the title of the next American Idol. At the very least, many viewers probably expected her to make it to the top 2. Her early elimination likely came as a surprise to a lot of the audience. As it turns out, her elimination wasn't even the biggest bombshell about the finalists to come out of the finale. No, the biggest bombshell may have been the news dropped by Caleb Lee Hutchinson toward the end of the finale: he and Maddie Poppe are dating.
Yes, two of the three finalists were secretly dating, and they just to happened to be the two going head-to-head for the top title at the very end. The two appeared very sweet and encouraging to one another, and the three judges were all but swooning at the news that Caleb and Maddie had made a love connection... but there can be only one American Idol per season. While the news that they would both be given a trip to Hawaii made them happy, one of them was certainly going to be less ecstatic than the other during that trip.
Well, Caleb took the news that Maddie won pretty well, all things considered. He immediately hugged her, then backed off so she could belt out a victory song. Only time will tell if their romance can survive Maddie winning the very first revival season of American Idol and therefore winning herself a notable place in American Idol history. Fans who have spent the last couple of months voting their hearts out for Maddie can rest easy tonight.
American Idol has already been renewed for another season on ABC, so more hopefuls will get the chance to try and win the title of American Idol. For your viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, swing by our summer TV premiere guide.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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