Ugly Betty, Lindsay Lohan, America Ferrera

ABC/KAREN NEAL

Kimberly wasn't good to Betty Suarez back in high school and she hasn't done much for her lately, either.

Lindsay Lohan's buzzed-about appearance as a Mean Girl from Betty's past on Thursday's season finale of Ugly Betty didn't do much for the acclaimed ABC comedy, ratings-wise. The finale attracted about 8.8 million viewers, up only about 300,000 from the prior week's episode yet down 16.2 percent from the Golden Globe winner's 2007 finale.

Betty's viewership was good enough for 17th place in the Nielsens, however, in what was another finale-laden week in a writers' strike-stunted season. But Britney's comeback turn on How I Met Your Mother still holds the title for show most helped by a reformed trainwreck.

But while Lohan's guest turn only helped Ugly Betty—and, presumably, the starlet's own career—so much, her offscreen shenanigans made possible the new E! series Living Lohan, whose May 19 debut did 50 percent more business than last year's premiere of Sunset Tan in the same time slot. (E! Online is a division of E! Entertainment Television.)

Also improving upon the 2007 predecessor in its time slot was Denise Richards: It's Complicated, another show that's gotten major media play thanks to the mostly negative press its star has been getting over the past year. But these are Complicated times, and Richards' E! debut bested the premiere of The Simple Life Goes to Camp by 15 percent.

What all that means—i.e., the actual number of butts in seats—will be reflected in next week's ratings.

Then again, all of the above numbers are small potatoes compared to the daddy of all finales this season (and, almost certainly, for the year)—the crowning of David Cook on Wednesday's episode of American Idol.

The two-night finale event entranced 53.8 million armchair critics, enough to give Fox the win in total viewers for the entire week ended Sunday.

Dancing With the Stars' two-night, four-hour closeout also did pretty well, with 20.1 million watching Kristi Yamaguchi glide to the win May 20, another 8.7 million watching the hourlong highlight show that preceded the finale, and 19.2 million catching the May 19 performance show.

Rounding out the top five was the two-hour season finale of Grey's Anatomy, which had critics thanking the prime-time drama gods for the acclaimed series' return to deliciously indulgent form and 18.1 million people tuning in for a host of scrub-clad couplings and medical mysteries.

Not quite able to sustain its mighty lead-in was the May 19 premiere of the fourth installment of The Bachelorette, which lost more than 50 percent of DWTS' fourth-place audience to drop to 32nd place in the Nielsens (8.1 million).

Also not quite a substitute for Idol yet is the fan-favorite summer series So You Think You Can Dance, which had its fourth-season premiere the night after Idol wrapped.

Only 8.7 million caught the competition's initial two-hour audition-round episode, a near 14.7 percent drop from last year's SYTYCD premiere.

For the week, Fox averaged a leading 12.5 million viewers, CBS pulled in 8.5 million, ABC was nipping at CBS' heels with 8.4 million, and the struggling CW (2.2 million in a week without a new episode of America's Next Top Model) once again got its butt handed to it by the Spanish-language Univision (3.4 million).

Here's a look at the 10 most-watched broadcast network prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:

  1. American Idol (Wednesday), 31.7 million viewers
  2. American Idol (Tuesday), 27.1 million viewers
  3. Dancing With the Stars Results (Tuesday), 20.1 million viewers
  4. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), 19.2 million viewers
  5. Grey's Anatomy, 18.1 million viewers
  6. NCIS, 16.5 million viewers
  7. House, 16.4 million viewers
  8. CSI: Miami, 16.3 million viewers
  9. Two and a Half Men, 14.7 million viewers
  10. Criminal Minds, 13.2 million viewers

 

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