I watched The Idol so you don’t have to
As a writer, there are times when you almost feel morally obligated to complete a task that no one else wants to do. In this case, I fed the inexplicable, dark need within the depths of my soul to watch Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s show on Max, The Idol.
The Idol has quickly become the internet’s most talked about television show for all the wrong reasons. It’s not the fan fervor that followed other Max shows like White Lotus or Succession. It’s morbid curiosity at best.
Following its debut at Cannes Film Festival, no one has been able to stop talking about its insanity: unnecessary vulgar sex scenes, a plot that was filled with holes and questions, and a debate about whether it’s a product of bad acting or bad writing…or both.
But are we really shocked that Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, known for his borderline concerning references to sex and violence in his shows — who argued with actress Barbie Ferreira over character Kat’s storyline and caused her eventually to leave the show, who had multiple actresses express discomfort in the amount of nudity, who had no writers room — created this disaster?
The Drama Surrounding The Idol
Originally, this catastrophe was directed by Amy Seimetz who left when most of the series was finished. With HBO citing a major creative overhaul, reports swirled elsewhere that The Weeknd was unhappy with the female direction the show was taking. Out with female directors, in with resident evil Sam Levinson.
Not only did this cost the show around $70 million, it also caused delays. Levinson then peppered in his signature overseasoning of sex to really mess the whole thing up. It started with reports saying the show had more sex than even
Euphoria, which broke boundaries being a show following hyper-sexual teenagers. In a tell-all expose, Rolling Stone reported:
“Four sources say that Levinson ultimately scrapped Seimetz’s approach to the story, making it less about a troubled starlet falling victim to a predatory industry figure and fighting to reclaim her own agency, and more of a degrading love story with a hollow message that some crew members describe as being offensive.”
Levinson was absent from the set early on, says Rolling Stone, devoting most of his time to the Emmy-award-winning Euphoria. Subsequently, this gave Tesfaye free reign. The show “drastically changed” from the original Seimetz version to something more…of a joke.
So I Watched The Idol Myself
Needless to say, the scathing reviews and meme-worthy clips I’d seen on my social media were not enough to keep me away. The show had an absurd premiere week, with over 900,000 viewers, surpassing Max’s biggest shows: Euphoria and White Lotus. My sick curiosity killed the cat.
It’s every bit as terrible as expected, despite a star-studded cast of The Weeknd, BLACKPINK’s Jennie, Troye Sivan, and Lily-Rose Depp, who plays popstar Jocelyn. Jocelyn, who is known in public for her scandals and mental breakdowns, falls under the spell of The Weeknd’s Tedros. That’s about all I know for sure.
Tedros is supposedly the leader of a cult, but you wouldn’t get that from episode one…which fails to reach many points other than Jocelyn wanting to expose herself on the cover of her album. Jocelyn attends a club (sans security because that would make too much sense) and meets Tedros (who unfortunately has a rat tail) and is instantly enamored.
This is all the proof I need that Jocelyn has no real friends. If Tedros approached me at a club, my friends would already have tackled him linebacker-style before we could say hello. No shot.
But the reviews don’t lie, there’s too much sex. It’s all about sex. There are constant lewd references, vulgar, NSFW dialogue, and full-frontal nudity. I can’t even take the show seriously because I spend half of it fast-forwarding through sex scenes.
I understand that they are trying to convey that Lily-Rose Depp’s character is vulnerable and clearly lacking any sort of creative direction…but they spend 30 minutes on each scene. Surely there’s a better way to speed up the plot?
I cringe every time The Weeknd comes on screen, partly because I know there's some sort of sexual act about to occur. And also because I can’t imagine letting his beast of a character within 50 yards of me at any point in my life.
Overall, it’s horrid. I can’t even tell you it’s worth the watch because I struggled to get through three episodes and my roommate got mad at me for forcing her to watch with me. In short, if you catch The Idol, your friends will like you less.