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A Scuzzy Stench Continues to Ooze from HBO's 'The Idol'

By Allyson Johnson | TV | April 17, 2023 |

By Allyson Johnson | TV | April 17, 2023 |


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Fans of The Weeknd continue to be put to the test as we endure each and every trailer, piece of news, or article about the upcoming HBO series, The Idol. Starring nepo baby Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye along with recurring roles from Blackpink’s Jennie Kim, musicians Troye Sivan, Moses Sumney, and more, the delayed series has already been riddled with controversy. Amy Seimetz (The Girlfriend Experience), was pushed out reportedly because Tesfaye was unhappy that the “female perspective” centered too much on Depp’s character instead of his own. Not a great sign from jump.

Depp stars as an up-and-coming pop star who finds herself entangled in the warped and wicked web of Tesfaye’s Tedros, a self-proclaimed guru and modern-day cult leader. The two spark up a romance, following Jocelyn’s nervous breakdown, as she tries to reclaim her title and fame in the industry. Strip the romance and cult elements away and there’s something akin here to A Star is Born narrative mixed with a scathing indictment of the music industry’s drive to wear down artists and weaponize them for their remaining parts. Instead, the series can’t escape the scummy stench it’s oozing, especially in the latest trailer.

Created by Tesfaye, Reza Fahim, and Euphoria’s similarly controversial figure Sam Levinson with Levinson directing, the series is making its debut amidst some of HBO’s final series which have brought some of the greatest modern acclaims to the network. With both Barry and Succession coming to their conclusions, the network likely wants a big name and buzzy series to take their place.

The Idol will be making its premiere Out of Competition at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival as it further strives for credibility. Who knows, maybe the reports of overt sexualization and degradation of women won’t be quite as severe as we’ve been led to believe despite quotes from production describing it as a “rape fantasy.”

The Weeknd is an undeniable talent as demonstrated through his chameleon approach to his artistry and music and a clear movie buff. That said, the team-up between him and Levinson, already a questionable figure in the industry whose perceived talent is largely attributed to strong performers in his projects, is resulting in something that, plainly put, is, at best, deliberate with its sleaziness. At its worst, The Idol fails its subject and female stars with yet another toxic story of objectification with nothing of substance to say.

Also, can’t help but be a bit grossed out by the use of Britney Spears’s “Gimme More” in the trailer.

The Idol premieres June 4 on HBO