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A Disaster, A Hot Mess, A Train Wreck, All Of The Above: #NotMyIdol

HBO’s newest show The Idol starring Lily-Rose Depp and The Weekend(Abel Tesfaye) is one of the most regrettable pieces of media I have ever consumed, and I can strongly affirm this is something best forgotten about. The series created by The Weekend, Reza Fahim, and the controversial Sam Levinson (creator of Euphoria) was initially supposed to air six episodes, but they cut one for unclear reasons. Not a bad thing as the five episodes that aired were poorly handled discussing the dark side of working in the entertainment industry, and the mental health issues and exploitation that come with it.

Actress, writer, and producer Amy Seimetz was the original showrunner until she parted ways due to creative differences. Rolling Stone stated that the Weekend felt like the show was deceiving a lot from the female perspective and had Levinson step in. While Seimetz had filmed 80% of the series upon her departure, they decided to scrap her work and approached the story to obtain the male fantasy and further The Weekend’s character as the true victim rather than provide a developed protagonist and plot. With the amount of unnecessary sexual content and nudity, Rolling Stone accurately described the series as “twisted torture porn”.

On set, many anonymous crew members described it to be a toxic work environment, requiring them to work many hours overtime, and constant script changes. The crew felt the show was moving far from what the show originally intended to be and felt less of a collaborative effect with Levinson in complete control. Most noted they want to avoid working with Levinson in the future.

With the negative comments about Levinson in the workplace, Lily-Rose Depp spoke of him highly. When she spoke to E News about Levinson, she stated “Sam is, for many reasons, the best director I have ever worked with.” Levinson has also received praise for being resourceful, having to be mindful of his budget after the first production according to Rolling Stones cost between $54 million- 75 million dollars. Tesfaye’s involvement helped maintain a tight budget, saving a great amount by offering his Bel Air home and one for his concerts to shoot the last scene of the series with a stadium of 70,000 free extras.

Maybe some audiences will like the series given fewer episodes, which leads people to have their interpretation, but there was very little given behind the characters. The main character Jocelyn is a pop star trying to get her career back together after canceling her tour due to her fragile mental state after losing her mother. The show failed to explore this mother/daughter relationship we are constantly reminded of, providing very little insight into their dynamic except for her mother’s abuse and dying of cancer. The first shot of the series shows her being able to activate different types of emotions within herself. The show could have done better exploring the relationship between her and her mother, which, unfortunately, did not. I think The Idol was strong when they talked about how One of the few strong points established for Jocelyn is her lack of navigation she has for her career as she credits her mom for her success.

Whenever Jocelyn’s mother is mentioned to her, she turns to alcohol or smoking to numb herself. While Jocelyn’s mental health is a big concern to her team and is constantly mentioned, the show failed to truly explore this important factor in her character. With the plot twist, in the end, revealing her to be a master manipulator, this mystery factor they try to pin on her feels like a lazy excuse for not fully developing her character. It’s hard to tell if the show wanted to do what it set out to do. It was hard to differentiate if the show was trying to provide a commentary on the subject matter of Jocelyn’s experience or not. With the erasure of the female perspective that was originally intended, it’s tricky to know if this was supposed to be satire or if this is the problem they are trying to satirize.

The series' flaws extend beyond unnecessary nudity, with a poorly written plot and an inconsistent storyline making this show a failure. The show appears to be more focused on the erotic aesthetic than the storylines or characters. Rather than expanding on the characters, we are granted random and sexual scenes that do not take the story anywhere. As a viewer, you hope it turns around to a degree, but that never came. So, in other words, good riddance to The Idol. With the large budget HBO invested in this series, it would be interesting to see how it would have turned out as originally intended by Seimetz.

Written by Daniel Rojas

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