Criticism of the start of The Idol, the new and controversial series by Sam Levinson (Euphoria) for HBO Max starring Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd. Premiere this June 5th.
Internal controversies and external controversies. None of this is unfamiliar to those of us who have closely followed the productions of Sam Levinson, the creator of Euphoria, who has also starred in various scandals about his production: toxic environments, ego wars and scripts with adult and transgressive content with an aesthetic attention to detail.
In The Idol, the focus is not on teenage drug use but on the price of fame and loneliness of ready-made cultural icons whose humanity seems to fade into the ether as their image becomes an object of marketing.
But, before talking about the content, we would have to pay minimal attention to what has been cooked behind the scenes: the output of the director’s production Amy Seimtz for “irreconcilable creative differences” with the showrunner and the producer and male lead The Weeknd which has led to a re-recording of a good part of the material that has doubled the cost of the series.
After passing through Cannes, a jug of cold water: devastating reviews and an unusually low score in review aggregators from those who have seen the first two episodes that were screened there.
desire what hurts you
The Idol introduces us to Jocelyn, a pop star turned popular idol who returns to show business after going through a great personal crisis resulting from the death of her mother.
Two weeks after the release of her new single, she is submerged in the recording of the video clip and in the elaboration of a marketing campaign that wants to exploit the personal ordeal that has led her to a mentally unstable situation, but also to a recovery brought about by exploring his musical talent.
In the midst of the “brand creation” whirlwind, a personal photo with a high sexual content jumps to the press that his advisers are willing to make profitable by talking about “revenge porn” and “female empowerment.” Their only horizon is to earn more money and get their star to end up coming out of this set more famous than it came in.
Additionally, Joss will meet Tedros, the owner of one of the most exclusive venues in Los Angeles with whom he will maintain a high-voltage sentimental and sexual relationship before discovering some of his darkest secrets.
We cannot yet know how it will unfold. The Idol but it is clear, in this first episode, that Lily-Rose Depp has given herself completely to the role of Jocelyn that refers (and thus is made explicit by the characters) to the figure of Britney Spears and that The Weeknd, on the contrary, does not seem to be even remotely up to par with his co-star.
It is also easy to make clear that the sexual content is profuse and is closely linked to the hypocrisy that the series wants to denounce. The artist’s breasts cannot be shown, but it is perceived as natural that she appears in the video clip with an outfit reduced to the minimum expression, making a hymn out of sexist lyrics and performing erotic movements that border on the spasmodic.
is that the double standards of the industry that on the one hand wants to be puritanical and protectionist (to sell) and that on the other hand relies on the liberation of women to objectify her and offer her as an object of consumption (“the straw sock”, they even say of the photo of her that leaks and in the end becomes an extension of herself… so as not to fall into a psychotic outbreak!).
In short, it seems that in the end, we are talking about what should not be news and that we are leaving out what is really important: removing the four obligatory shady sex scenes The Idol (which also has to be sold) is pointing out how hits are created with the help of algorithms, remixes and the promise of easy sex, one of the advertising strategies older than coughing.
As a starting point, the first episode of The Idol makes it clear what he wants to denounce and that he will not find any impediment to do so: it is a crude, ruthless and blunt series when it comes to showing how the hypocritical entertainment industry objectifies the woman and offers her as a meat dish to the audience.
The corrosive criticism of the ruthless world of entertainment and specifically of the hypersexualization of pop stars. Radiant Lily-Rose Depp.
It is so explicit that it borders on pornography, falling into the trap of doing the same thing that it criticizes: pure and simple morbidity. The Weeknd is not up to it.