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The Failure of HBO’s The Idol

This past Sunday, the HBO original series came to a hollow end. This hollow end comes earlier than expected as the show was originally supposed to have six episodes. Instead, the series created by Euphoria creator/director Sam Levinson and Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye ends in episode 5 ‘Jocelyn Forever.’


The show starred Tesfaye himself, Lily-Rose Depp, Troye Sivan, Jennie Ruby Jane (aka Jennie of BLACKPINK), and Rachel Sennott. The show’s plot revolved around struggling popstar Jocelyn (played by Depp) navigating her career but mostly her relationship with club owner/cult leader Tedros (played by Tesfaye). As to be expected from Euphoria’s little sister, The Idol is sexually charged and graphic yet beautifully shot. 


As said previously, HBO’s The Idol was a show. ‘It was a show’ is one of the few non-negative things that can be said about this show. The Idol is an absolute trainwreck; from top to bottom. There is no story. Most of its characters are unenjoyable to watch. The pacing is choppy, at best. The show is more interested in reveling in its so-called ‘depravity’ rather than entertaining an audience.


The show is obnoxiously in love itself. To a point where a viewer might want to tell it to, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” When it premiered at the Cannes festival this past year, Levinson touted it at a press conference as ‘The show of the summer.’ Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Idol now stands as the only weak link among the succession of strong HBO shows like House of The Dragon, Succession, and The Last of Us


It seemed that Levinson and HBO execs thought that The Idol would be yet another Euphoria. Unfortunately, The Idol has none of what made her big sister so intriguing to watch. It has no powerful performers like Zendaya or Sydney Sweeney to salvage Levinson’s weak writing. The fashion and make-up in The Idol are nothing to write home about-which is significant considering how significant fashion and make-up were in Euphoria


The Idol had a lot of potential. There were many things in the show that could have been used to make the show interesting.  But neither Levinson nor Tesfaye seemed too interested in focusing on those aspects of the show. Instead, the show focuses on the sexual-charged exploits of its two main characters-Tedros and Jocelyn. Jocelyn and Tedros in The Idol are what Rue and Jules were in Euphoria: the show’s flagship couple. But nothing about them together makes them interesting to watch.


In fact, they are insufferable to watch. The two do nothing but fuck, sing, and have fake-deep conversations that the show tries to make sweet and way more meaningful than it is. The two have none of the chemistry that Jules and Rue have in Euphoria. It breaks any reasonable person’s suspension of belief that someone like Jocelyn would give a creepy man like Tedros the time of day. In fact, I would dare say Jocelyn is much more interesting without Tedros than she is with him.


Jocelyn had the makings of an interesting character with her relationship with her mother, her struggles being a pop star, and Rose-Depp’s stunning performance. But unfortunately, that seems to be just salad dressing to The Idol. Like other female characters in Levinson’s past works, Jocelyn is extremely sexualized. Most of her outfits in this series seem designed to appeal to the male gaze  Rose-Depp’s performance, while very riveting to watch, is still not enough to save what is given to her. 


Tesfaye’s Tedros is just straight-up garbage. The Idol is not just Levinson’s brainchild but Tesfaye’s as well. This shows through how much attention the show gives to the unappealing and nearly unwatchable Tedros. This is Tesfaye’s first serious acting gig, and it painfully shows through his corny try-hard performance. If Tedros was being played by a more seasoned actor like Jonathan Majors or Michael B. Jordan- he might have been an interesting and riveting character in another universe. 


One of the best parts about The Idol is its supporting cast. Rachel Sennott plays neurotic best friend/assistant Leia-a character able to retain a clear head and the audience’s sympathy. Jane Addams plays an engaging, crass, and morally bankrupt record executive named Nikki who is willing to replace Jocelyn should she fail not to be profitable anymore. Hank Azaria and Da’Vine Joy Randolph play Jocelyn’s managers-Chaim and Destiny- who are both protective paternal figures. Moses Sumney and Suzanna Son make for believable cult members. BLACKPINK’s Jennie-for what little screentime she has-used her star power to give her character Dyanne a mesmerizing and memorable presence. 


In conclusion, The Idol is a trainwreck. It is not worthy of the 9 pm HBO Sunday primetime slot that so many excellent shows in the past have taken up. While most of the cast give powerful performances that do uplift the series at points, the show is weighed down by its terrible writing and direction.



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Tags: #HBO #TheIdol #SamLevinson


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