When it comes to the attention of the Gen-Z audience, all-star showrunner Sam Levinson has ensnarled their flippant attention with his moody, sexual and outlandish drama series Euphoria. A winner of both critical and audience acclaim, Euphoria has held a vice-like grip over the senses of audiences and his latest series, the full-fledged neon-lit tale of wild decadence, uncontrollable sex and the music industry, The Idol, was a series that many have been salivating for.
As Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) prepares for her triumphant return, a leaked photo sends her team into crisis mode. Later, Jocelyn has a chance encounter with nightclub owner Tedros (Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye).
From the start, The Idol makes it clear that this is a show about fame under the microscope and the manufactured illusion that makes it pop. Levinson, along with pop musician turned actor Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye bring audiences into the sleazy underbelly of the music industry, and this series is holding nothing back. The sex appeal is turned up right from the go, and within minutes upon laying eyes on glamorous sex-kitten pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp). A scandal is unfolding. Part talented entertainer, part messed-up wild child, Depp’s Jocelyn is a chain-smoking, kinetic basket case of trauma and issues, and her bedroom antics are about to land her in serious hot water.
What we see in ‘Pop Tarts & Rat Tales’ is the swirling insipidness and bickering of the Hollywood elite of managers, executives, journalists, publicists, agents and hangers-on, and Levinson makes it clear that all these characters are detestable human beings. Clad in Gucci and Versace, Jocelyn’s ‘team’ are a parasitic group of leeches and minute by minute, you see them trying to stall for time as they try to come up with a strategy to positively spin the breakout of an intimate selfie of the young pop star who seems very pleased with the massive wad of cum that’s dripping down her face. Yep, The Idol isn’t holding back any of the sleaze, but if you thought that this would lead to a schizophrenic bit of drama propulsion, think again. Because then it just gets dull.
Lily-Rose Depp is correctly cast in the role of Jocelyn, and she’s giving it her all, except that well it seems that Levinson isn’t that interested in giving her much to do. It seems like her growing trauma and mental instability could make for a very wild character, but she seems to just lounge around smoking cigarettes the whole time. And while Levinson does play her stance as a sex kitten, and she shows of plenty of flesh, it doesn’t have the Basic Instinct impact that I think the showrunner was looking for. It’s early days, and I have my chips on Jocelyn and Depp’s talent as an actress in the making, but I hope we see more of her in the role as we go on.
Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s club owner and supposed cult leader Tedros is one hell of a letdown. While he first starts off as a rather psychopathic bad boy whose only interested in Jocelyn’s body, he soon reveals himself to be a bit of a poser and, dare I say it, a bit of a wimp. For a character that was introduced with such confidence in one scene to turn out then to be rather weak and despondent in the next seems like a letdown in tone. It’s clear that Tesfaye is working to play the bad boy, but he comes off as a bit of a try-hard, with zero intimidation factor or any sense of charisma. I was expecting a psycho Jim Jones type for Tesfaye’s first big character but were left with a rat-tailed sissy who isn’t the lothario he pretends to be.
I had massive expectations going into this series, and Episode One, ‘Pop Tarts & Rat Tales’ just kind of left me feeling flat. Maybe we’ll start to see this series get interesting from here, but there seems to be a lot of flash with little substance, and even the flash doesn’t feel that scandalous. In our world of Instagram models and booty-popping selfies, The Idol doesn’t feel as The Idol just doesn’t feel as fresh or extreme as I had hoped it would be. In this world of sexed-up Instagram models, who use booty-popping Tik-Tock as their main vehicle of self-expression, The Idol didn’t live up to the crazed and libertine image that I wanted it to.
It’s early days for The Idol, and we’ll have to see where it goes from here, but I’m hoping that it actually gets scandalous quickly.
The Idol currently streams on NEON.