We all knew this was going to be controversial, negative reviews flooded in after the first two episodes were shown at Cannes. It received a standing ovation after the screening which on the face of it seems shallow and fueled by celebrity bootlicking.
In March Rolling Stone published anonymous interviews with those working on the show. They alleged that its producers had wasted time and money to make “twisted torture porn” all about “a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it.”
There are people defending the show as a modern take on sex and relationships. If that’s the case then God help young women were my thoughts after watching the content of the final scene, what were they thinking!
The first episode has premiered and the overall feeling has not changed, created by Sam Levinson, who has set a high bar for himself after Euphoria.
Lily-Rose Depp stars as Jocelyn, apparently a generational talent according to her group of over fussy handlers who are trying to relaunch her career after an unspecified breakdown. The first episode revolves around the group dealing with an extremely intimate photo of her that has been leaked online. As Jocelyn is preparing for the launch of her new song with photoshoots and choreography.
We are introduced to Tedros Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye a seedy nightclub owner, after Jocelyn agrees to a night out at the club. She seems to be instantly drawn to him and although her assistant (Rachel Sennott) is wary of him. Jocelyn invites him over and asks for his opinion on her new song. Of course he suggests she needs to be more open sexually to be a convincing singer.
There’s a voyeurism in Levinson’s shooting of sex scenes and some of them are just plain embarrassing, leading to comments that this is merely a toxic mans fantasy.
Every inch of the first episode is pure sex, the plot revolves around a graphic sexual image of her which is quite frankly a real WTF moment, it’s completely unnecessary.
Jocelyn spends most of her time chain smoking, topless. Even when practicing choreography for her new song she is oversexualized wearing the most ridiculously small bikini top, it’s unrealistic and pointless.
All of this in an injustice to Lily-Rose Depp she is undoubtedly a talented actor but she has sold herself short and maybe Abel Tesfaye needs to stick to music.
What is it with Levinson’s constant need to push the boundaries of sexuality on TV, it’s becoming cringeworthy. Levinson had a chance to show some more depth with new projects after Euphoria, but he has continued into now darker sexual themes.
You could interpret the opening scene as a dig from Levinson towards his past critics, with Jocelyn’s intimacy coordinator portrayed as a joke. He is ridiculed for his objection to Jocelyn exposing her breasts and subsequently locked in a bathroom.
If you simply ignore Levinson’s desire to shock and just strip back the episode, it’s actually boring, there is zero plot so far, nothing happens other than we learn that Jocelyn has some mental issues, she is loaded with perverse impulses and Tedros is an absolute creep.
The Idol is not providing many reasons to continue watching for another 5 episodes.
You can watch The Idol on HBO and on Sky/NowTV in the UK.