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What Happened to Dan Levy in 'The Idol'?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 28, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 28, 2023 |


I read an interview on Vulture with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who plays Destiny on The Idol, and there is a passage in the interview where she describes the meaning behind the series that I cannot stop thinking about.

In life and in this industry, those who need to get the message will get the message. Those who don’t? It’s not for them right now … Those who have an aptitude and intellect and awareness and emotional intelligence to see it and critique it critically, you’ll pick up on those things. Or maybe you won’t immediately, and if you care to, you can watch it again and catch it that time. I’m not expecting everyone to catch it in 40 minutes. I was living with it for months, so, of course, I get it … Y’all are intelligent. I don’t wanna play with people’s intelligence. I don’t want to see or be a part of dumbed-down content. This one will challenge you, but that’s good.

With all due respect to Randolph, one of the few bright spots in The Idol, what?! I’ve given a lot of thought to why anyone — aside from people who might want to see Johnny Depp’s daughter moan while being fingered by The Weeknd — might actually like The Idol. Why do we even watch TV? To be entertained? There’s nothing entertaining here. To laugh? The only comedy here is unintentional, and there’s not even enough of that to keep The Idol interesting. To cry? Only in despair. To be aroused? I mean, how desperate for arousal do you need to be to seek out The Idol for that?

Because of what it says about the industry? I think The Idol wants to say something about the music industry, and it makes some vague nods toward that goal. I think that maybe Britney crossed Sam Levinson’s mind once or twice while he was writing it, but it doesn’t provide much in terms of commentary, either satirical or earnest. In fact, rewatching parts of the pilot episode, the closest The Idol gets to providing commentary is the opening photoshoot and the critique of the intimacy coordinator.

Jane Adams is also featured in that sequence, complaining about the intimacy coordinator and the internet culture. I think it’s there — in the opening three minutes — where Levinson lays out the thesis for the entire series: “You college-educated internet people. Will you let people enjoy sex, drugs, and hot girls? You’re cock-blocking America.”

Did Sam Levinson and Abel Tesfaye create The Idol to provoke “college-educated internet people?” “Is going to college a bad thing now?” Xander asks in the premiere episode, and I wonder if Levinson and Tesfaye bristle because their works are dissected for meaning by people whose job it is to ascribe meaning. But maybe there is no meaning. Maybe this is just “sex, drugs, and hot girls” and the belief that mental illness is attractive — as The Idol argues — because it gives people in Iowa the illusion that a hot, famous person might f**k them.

But what I really wanted to know — and the reason I rewatched the pilot episode — is where did Dan Levy go? The series has been promoting Levy’s involvement for nearly a year and after a brief appearance as Jocelyn’s publicist in the pilot episode — where he essentially introduces Jocelyn to the Vanity Fair reporter and discusses with several other characters how to provide damage control for the photo of cum on Jocelyn’s face — Levy has disappeared. That’s it? That’s all the Levy we’re going to get?

Oh, right: He will presumably return for the finale because one of the first clips we saw from the series features Levy’s character discussing a Rolling Stone interview, which Tesfaye released to counter the bad press Rolling Stone gave the series ahead of its release.

I wonder if that clip actually makes it into the final edit? I wonder if there is more footage of Levy that’s now on the cutting room floor, along with the entirety of Anne Heche’s character? I wonder if his screen time was reduced because he made Tesfaye and Depp look bad by comparison? I also wonder what kind of accent Hank Azaria’s character is sporting?

Maybe the season/series finale will provide all the answers we need. After all, Randolph said that The Idol will “start to be understood once people see episode four and definitely five.”