Review of “The Idol,” a contentious new series on HBO, by the people

The drama about music and sex (and more sex) has Lily-Rose Depp and Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye as the leads.

The Idol, a new HBO series, has finally debuted after weeks, months, and even years of negative and difficult publicity (including a lukewarm Cannes premiere). A visit to a red-light district during the epidemic would have been likened to the first hour-long episode’s kinkiness and emptiness.

The first episode of the show has one basic flaw that the succeeding episodes may never be able to fix. Jocelyn, a well-known pop diva played by Lily-Rose Depp, is attempting to resurrect her career after having a nervous breakdown. Depp has a remarkable face with high cheekbones, a disdainful broad lips, and big, icy eyes, yet she never comes across as being hurt or defenseless. She has the appearance that she wouldn’t bat an eye if she lit a cigarette on Madonna’s hand.


Jocelyn hasn’t actually received any psychology at all; instead, she has been loaded up with perverted urges that have no more significance than a few bags of groceries stuffed into an SUV’s trunk. In the most horrifying scene of the play, she allows a stranger named Tedros (Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye, one of the show’s producers) to come dangerously close to suffocating her. She bares her breasts during a photo shoot, awakens herself through asphyxiation, and more.

It appears that Tedros will initiate Joss into a cult. Maybe it’s like the scene in Eyes Wide Shut where characterless women are reduced to sexual caterers and mannequins as they stand around nude in a ballroom.

However, the actors and co-creator/director Sam Levinson (Euphoria) intimated in a recent New York Times interview that these two may be involved in a diabolical power play, which may account for a quick clip of Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas in Basic Instinct. However, creating that kind of dynamic calls far more than just acknowledging the peculiar masterpiece directed by Paul Verhoeven. You may as well have gone all out and included excerpts from Starship Troopers, Elle, and Showgirls.

Even though Hank Azaria, Jane Adams, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Dan Levy played members of Jocelyn’s always terrified management staff, there was a lot of flat, flat, blatant sarcasm directed at them.

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