Hallelujah, a Reality TV Crush

The 2000s are often looked at as the era of television in which reality took over, but long before Paris Hilton launched “That’s hot” into the zeitgeist we were already accustomed to its addicting ways via daytime talk shows that showcased everything from out of control teens to much-needed makeovers, as well as series like ‘Cops.’

However, the turn of the 21st century took our regular old interest in reality and turned it into a downright obsession with shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘Big Brother’ ushering in a new style of must-see TV. This week we’re not only welcoming Kasey Box, (‘An Evening at the Movies,’ ‘Season 2 Season,’ and ‘Literature Reapers’) to the show, but we’re also talking about his reality TV crush on a true icon of the genre, but before we go breakaway and do that, let’s talk about a reality TV crush that made me spend my junior year of college on Beverly Blvd.

It was January 2008 and like every other since the summer before my sophomore year of high school, I tuned into another season of ‘American Idol.’ The weeks went on and here and there a few ‘Idol’ hopefuls stood out to me, but it wasn’t until the top 16 were tasked to perform songs from the ‘80s did my heart decide to dedicate itself to one contestant. Jason Castro, the Texan with the dreads, sang “Hallelujah” in a way that made everything in me react. So much so that I distinctly remember posting about it on MySpace (senior citizen alert!).

Again, I’d watched every season up until that point and had voted a few times here and there over the past six seasons, but the crush that was developing at that moment would go on to become a large chunk of core college memories because I wasn’t just obsessed to the point that I’d watch weekly. Oh no, somehow my friends and I managed to get ourselves into tapings every single week. Except for Neil Diamond week. I had a presentation for a stupid class and missed Jason doing his best with “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Other than that, we went to either a dress rehearsal, the main event, or a results show.

How did we get in every week? I’m unsure because at the time, ‘Idol’ was still a popular show that people watched in unison. It wasn’t like today where people watch, but no one really cares that much. I mean, who is the last winner you can name? Exactly.

Anyways, back to Jason Castro because I wasn’t just going – I was going as the #1 fangirl; complete with a custom “Team Castro” jersey. I even got really into the voting aspect, making sure my whole family knew what number to call that week, as well as posting online. Which, back in 2008 was like hieroglyphics on a cave wall compared to how massive social media is today. I was basically the president of the Jason Castro fan club, and the crush only grew with each passing week. Even when he decided to perform “Memory” from ‘Cats.’

Sadly, all my hard work did not get Jason Castro to the finale but 4th place was not the worst he could’ve done. Plus, back then the eliminated contestants taped a show for…I’m not even sure, but when he did get the boot, we went to that taping, and who got to ask the audience question? This girl! Being a fangirl hoarder, I still have the 3×5 index card some PA wrote the prepared question on.

A little memento from one of the most entertaining chapters of my time in college, and the crush continued for a year or so after. We went to a couple of dates on the ‘American Idol’ tour, I managed to see his show when he came into town and even saw him play at some fancy hotel in LA. Jason Castro was the first ‘Idol’ contestant I was utterly obsessed with and it was all because of a crush that developed during one of the most beautiful performances I’ve ever seen.

Today, the crush is more like a souvenir from the past than an active interest. Every time I hear “Hallelujah” I think back to that night I immediately fell for him, all the bus trips down to the studio to wait in line, and the time spent being crazy fans with my friends. And while my heart may have moved onto another, I still follow him online and keep up with anything he does because once a fangirl, always a fangirl.


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