Warning! Spoilers for the American Idol Season 19 finale are within!
It's been a long road and a season filled with more controversy than fans (and probably producers) would have liked, but American Idol finally named its newest winner last night in country singer Chayce Beckham. As you can likely imagine, there are plenty of fans who were rooting for either runner-up Willie Spence or third place finalist Grace Kinstler to come out on top, but there was another moment of the night which was also talked about a lot, and this one involved host Ryan Seacrest. And, several fans were not at all happy with Seacrest after he made what they felt was a tone-deaf joke about the new Season 19 winner.
One of the biggest parts of American Idol has always been learning about the lives and stories of the contestants. We might love someone's voice, but what really helps audiences connect with competitors and commit to voting for them is getting to know more about them on a personal level. When you reach the Top 3, it's common for Idol to look back over what's been revealed about each finalist, along with their journey so far on the show, and last night was no different.
Right before Chayce Beckham's first performance of the night, a short segment was shown on the young singer, which touched greatly on his issues with alcohol abuse, something which Beckham has been open about since his American Idol audition. After his performance, judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie lavished praise on Beckham, with Bryan noting that he'd like to take him on a fishing trip to celebrate his success on Idol once it was all over. Then, Ryan Seacrest joined Beckham on stage and told him, "You know there’s gonna be beer involved if you’re fishing with Luke!" And, many Idol fans on Twitter were simply not having it:
Fans found the moment particularly puzzling, especially because, as mentioned, Idol had just shown a video where Beckham talked about his past substance abuse troubles. While it's possible that the video either didn't play in the studio where Idol was filming, or that Seacrest missed it while dealing with behind the scenes things during a break in active hosting duties, Beckham has spoken quite a lot about needing to get sober and hitting "rock bottom" after a getting into a bad car accident because of his drinking. Which made fans wonder:
It is possible that Ryan Seacrest forgot about Chayce Beckham being sober, though one would think the long-time American Idol host would do a little catching up on contestant back stories in time for the finale. At any rate, there were many audience members who felt that Seacrest's comment was seriously out of touch:
For his part, Beckham was either too nervous / excited to think much about what Seacrest said, or simply interested in keeping his head in the game, and only replied to Seacrest with, "You think so?" and the night was able to move on quickly from there. But, fans watching at home were more than ready to come out and fight on Beckham's behalf:
It wasn't all bad news when it came to fan reaction to Ryan Seacrest's talk of Chayce Beckham needing to put up with being round people drinking beer if he goes fishing with Luke Bryan, as some people were able to give the host the benefit of the doubt. But, the overall reaction was still one that is seeing a lot of outrage and utter confusion at how Seacrest could have thought such a thing was cool to say.
Hopefully, Ryan Seacrest will at least learn to keep his head in the game a bit more in coming seasons, as we all know live TV can be difficult to navigate, even for seasoned pros like him. At least his comment didn't trip Chayce Beckham up in the slightest, and he performed just as well as his fans would expect the new American Idol winner to, despite Seacrest's slip.