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The-Idol-HBO.jpg

'The Idol' Wants To Make Abuse Sexy

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 19, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 19, 2023 |


The-Idol-HBO.jpg

The most overindulgent, cringey, hurl-worthy moment in this week’s episode of The Idol comes when Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) — amid her lovemaking with Tedros (Abel Tesfaye) — thrusts her crotch into his mouth while they’re in the backseat of a convertible that a disgusted Leia (Rachel Sennott) is driving. If The Idol aspires to be prestige television porn, it’s going about it the wrong way. The sex scenes are tacky, gross, and about as hot as melted sidewalk taffy.

The aforementioned convertible is headed to an expensive Beverly Hills store where Tedros can dress Jocelyn to his liking. Tedros and his entourage/cult have taken over Jocelyn’s house, and Tedros — as he aggressively informs Leia — is “calling the shots” now. He’s controlling, abusive, and insanely jealous — he fires a trainer for touching Jocelyn’s stomach and threatens an employee in the store because Tedros thought he might have looked at Jocelyn wrong. The episode digs deeper into that abuse.

It’s the kind of abuse typical of jealous, insecure men like Tedros: He alienates Jocelyn from her people, controls who is allowed to see and interact with her, and surrounds her with his cult of “yes” people. He also shuts down anyone who contradicts him or his ideas. That comes to a head during a dinner when they have an agonizing, moronically pretentious discussion about the nature of art, the takeaway of which is that you can’t make good art without pain. Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love” exists only because Robert Plant’s son died, and the benefit of that song to humanity is worth more than the life of Plant’s son, according to Tedros. Jocelyn makes a few stabs at standing up for herself citing her own experience compared to Tedros’s lack of it, but when the only voice of support she has, Leia, is sent away, Jocelyn folds and confesses her darkest secrets about her abusive mother.

Specifically, as a child star, her mother used to beat her with a hairbrush. Tedros takes that information and uses it to replace her mother with himself as the abuser in her life. While she is on all fours, he beats Jocelyn with a hairbrush in front of their friends as part of a devious sex game. She cries. He beats her harder, and then they eventually f**k, sealing the abusive relationship. It’s gross, but Tesfaye and Sam Levinson apparently believe they are saying something profound about the music industry, about how Jocelyn has traded one cult (the industry) for another (Tedros).

The sh*t is as old as time. Weak, craven men have always sought to dominate women and separate them from everyone else and make themselves the center of their universes using physical and psychological violence. The only difference is, Tesfaye wants to set it to his music, while Levinson wants to make it sexy. This ain’t it, Sam.