Why The Idol Has To Be The WORST Series We’ve Ever Come Across

You know when you’re at work, and you get a certain task that makes you reevaluate your life choices that led to this point? Working on this review was one of these times for me because I’m not exaggerating when I say The Idol might just be the worst piece of media that I have ever consumed. 

And no, it’s not the “fun/bad” sort of bad; it’s just bad. 

Don’t believe me? The Idol stands with a 5.7/10 rating on IMDB, 22% on the critics’ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and 58% on the viewers’ reviews, noting that The Weeknd fans have been spamming the reviews with 10 stars. 

Moreover, the critics who attended the series’ premiere at the Cannes film festival almost all gave the series negative reviews.

Why The Idol Has To Be The WORST Series We've Ever Come Across

After reading the awful reviews, I was even more excited to watch the series. What’s better than proving a pretentious Hollywood critic wrong? Am I right?

But boy, oh boy, is it bad. 

Before we get into our review, let us give you a brief background on the series.

About The Idol:

The new HBO series, “The Idol,” created by Sam Levinson, known for his work on the critically acclaimed show “Euphoria,” aims to explore the dark side of the pop music industry through edgy and satirical storytelling. However, instead of providing a critical commentary on the industry’s sexist and problematic aspects, the show seems to glorify them. It presents the sleazy underbelly of the music world as something to be admired; much like the pop stars, it portrays drowning in regressive edginess.

With The Weeknd’s own experience in the music industry and Depp’s character as a controversial pop singer with a troubled past, the collaboration seems promising. The combination of their insights and Levinson’s expertise should offer a nuanced and well-rounded exploration of the industry.

However, the initial anticipation surrounding “The Idol” took a hit when Rolling Stone released an article on March 1st highlighting the production challenges and overall difficulties faced while making the show. The report suggests that the show may veer into the realm of “torture porn” and raises concerns about its execution.

The drama before the release of the series:

According to the Rolling Stones, the show’s production faced numerous challenges, including delays, reshoots, and rewrites. Initially, the original director, Amy Simons, known for her work on “The Girlfriend Experience” and “She Dies Tomorrow,” was at the helm. 

However, a significant shift occurred when Sam Levinson became the new director. This change resulted in adjustments to the cast and crew, leaving many aspects unexplained.

Reports emerged that Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, who stars in the show, expressed concerns about the perspective being portrayed, particularly focusing on the exploitation of women in the music industry. 

Some speculate that he wanted the narrative to align more closely with his own experiences and insights, given his knowledge of the industry’s inner workings. However, after viewing the show, it becomes apparent that a different approach may have been preferable.

This pre-production drama had the series end up being what it was satirizing:

Under Sam Levinson’s direction, the show took on a darker and more twisted tone, reminiscent of his previous work on “Euphoria.” Some production members described signing up for a dark satire that would critically examine fame and the modern celebrity model.

However, instead of satirizing the subject matter, the show seemed to embody and glorify it, leading to a disconnect between the initial intent and the final result.

While initially described as satire, the term may not accurately capture the show’s essence. It appears to have shifted from a comedic critique to a more serious exploration of the music industry and its associated exploitative aspects. The article suggests that the intended message about exploitation in the industry may have been overshadowed by a glorifying portrayal contrary to what was initially envisioned.

The Story of The Idol:

“The Idol” follows the story of Jocelyn, a troubled pop star reminiscent of Britney Spears, played by Lily-Rose Depp. The show’s opening scene, which we’ll get into later, introduce her as a vulnerable character, objectified and packaged for public consumption. A label executive describes her as “young, beautiful, and damaged,” perpetuating the harmful notion that mental illness is somehow desirable or sexy.

The series takes a distressing turn as it delves into Jocelyn’s life, presenting a deeply disturbing depiction of female pop stardom. The creators’ narrative choices leave no room for irony or humor, effectively establishing their thesis: women’s suffering and degradation are essential elements of the story.

Throughout the episodes, Jocelyn is subjected to degrading sexual acts and violence. The show explicitly references real-life incidents of hacked private photos, trivializing the violation experienced by numerous famous women. Shockingly, the creators treat these experiences as fodder for crude humor and titillation.

The opening scene and setting the tone for how problematic the series will be:

In the show’s opening scene, which has been widely discussed and memes on social media, there is a perception that the lead actress, Lily-Rose, lacks acting talent and delivers a subpar performance. However, it becomes evident that the scene was designed to showcase Lily Rose’s acting skills and potentially serve as her Emmy-worthy moment, and unfortunately, they fail miserably.

Why The Idol Has To Be The WORST Series We've Ever Come Across

The cringe-acting isn’t the only issue, though. The scene depicts Lily Rose’s character participating in a photo shoot, where the director guides her through various emotions, capturing them directly in the camera. 

As the scene progresses, the camera pulls out, revealing a potential reference to another popular show. 

Subsequently, the focus shifts to a controversial moment where nudity is introduced. 

This choice raises questions about the romanticization of mental illness and the objectification of women. 

It becomes evident that the show’s creators intended to address these themes; however, the execution appears contradictory. The intended message becomes muddled by simultaneously portraying a character’s desire to showcase her body and condemning the exploitation of women.

The show’s thesis, as presented in this early stage, seems to revolve around a woman’s desire to display her body and the obstacles imposed by others. 

This perspective, coming from the show’s male creators, Sam Levinson, and Abel, raises questions about their definition of feminism and their portrayal of women’s agency.

During the shoot, Lily-Rose really wants to go nude, but there’s this guy on set who’s totally against it. She keeps saying, “Come on, it’s my body! I want to show it off!” But this evil man just shuts her down. Here’s the crazy part, though: he’s actually the shoot’s intimacy coordinator, the guy who’s supposed to make sure everyone is safe! Yeah, the very person we see as the villain is there to protect people from exploitation. 

So, she can’t show her body because Mr. Intimacy Coordinator steps in and says, “Sorry, but it’s not in the contract. It’s not safe, either. We need to do things the right way.” He’s such a nerd, always playing by the rules and not allowing any exploitation. But Lily-Rose is determined and keeps insisting that she should be able to do it because it’s empowering for her. And that’s when I realized this show is all messed up. 

If the show wanted to be progressive like they claim, they should have portrayed the intimacy coordinator as the good guy. His failures could have been funny, like a satirical twist. But instead, we don’t root for him at all because he’s at odds with the woman who wants to do it willingly. It’s not like she’s being exploited against her will. She just really wants to do it. But as the audience, we know this is fiction, and Sam Levinson and Abel wrote the characters and story.

They’re trying to address the sexualized exploitation of women in the industry, yet they’re showing women wanting to do it so badly. It’s like they’re contradicting themselves. And you know what Sydney Sweeney said about intimacy coordinators? She emphasized how important they are, even for scenes that aren’t explicit. She had a great experience with them on Euphoria, and she thinks they’re essential. Her words make more sense to me than what Sam Levinson and Abel are trying to say.

And get this: the show has Hank Azaria’s character, who’s kind of a manager, lock the intimacy coordinator in the bathroom so Lily-Rose can keep taking those provocative pictures. They want us to see the people stopping her from showing her body as the bad guys. But honestly, there’s no depth to it. That’s just the whole premise of the show right there, in the opening scene. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, look, she really wants to show her body, and anyone who says she can’t is toxic.” It’s just so one-sided.

So yeah, that’s what’s going on in this messed-up show. Lily-Rose wants to flaunt it, but the supposed protector is the bad guy, and they’re playing it off like it’s a brilliant idea. But come on, it’s her boob and her house, so they should fully respect that. It’s just frustrating to see how the show handles the topic of women’s exploitation.

The Weeknd’s character, where do we start…

Okay, here’s the thing, Abel could be a talented singer, but he could not act for shit!

Alright, now let’s dig into some specific scenes that made me cringe. First off, Abel’s got this rat-tail hairstyle going on. I mean, seriously? What’s the deal with that? It just adds an extra layer of creepiness without any real purpose. And then there’s this love story between the international pop sensation and the regular nightclub owner. Come on, how realistic is that? It feels totally far-fetched and takes away from the show’s credibility if you ask me.

We first see Abel’s character in the club that he owns, with Lily Rose partying there. He sees her and calls her out, and after a minute, she’s making out with him.

The guy looks like a greasy ball with a rat tail, and this big-shot superstar starts making out with him a minute after meeting him. Why? How!

Don’t you think it gets worse? Oh, it does!

Her friend tells her he gives her “rapey vibes,” Miss Lily Rose replies, “Yeah, I kinda like that about him

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll leave it at that.

Consent is almost non-existent in this series, especially with Abel’s character. Depp decided she wanted to invite him over, and her friend opened the door for him. The first thing he does is to kiss her on the lip. 

This is completely brushed off as normal and too casual. 

Now on to the sex scenes; WTF is going on?

This is just yet again another piece of media that shows that rough sex = sexual abuse.

I really don’t want to judge anyone’s kinks or sexual preferences, and rough sex is okay as long as there’s consent and practice safely. But just like 50 Shades of Grey, this series glorifies abuse with rough sex.

Aside from that, the scenes are extremely explicit and too long and serve absolutely no purpose in the plot. Moreover, the dialogue is just plain stupid. It’s purely bad writing that serves no purpose and isn’t even sexy. 

Why The Idol Has To Be The WORST Series We've Ever Come Across

If I’m looking for sex scenes with bad writing and acting, porn is free, and they definitely won’t have Abel’s ugly rat tail!

In addition to everything else, it’s very obvious that these men have absolutely no knowledge of pleasing a woman. No, it’s not about the rough sex, but honestly, no woman would get off by whatever the hell they think they’re doing. This is just sad and cringe.

The lack of awareness of the creators is also concerning:

Remember at the beginning of the article when we said the Rolling Stones made an expose on the series before it’s release? Because Abel and Sam are so mature, there’s a whole scene in the second episode basing out the Rolling Stones, asking, “Who still reads the Rolling Stones?”

https://twitter.com/theweeknd/status/1631045507471605760

To make matters worse, Abel has been bashing everyone who criticizes the series on Twitter, including his very own fans.

Why The Idol Has To Be The WORST Series We've Ever Come Across

And unsurprisingly, the series is not just ending with 1 season, its ending an episode early:

According to page six, the series will not be getting a second season because of backlash over the sex scenes on The Weeknd “egomaniacal” behavior on set.

Shocking…

What was actually surprising, however, is the fact that the series will end with only 5 episodes, not 6 as previously stated.

As of writing this review, however, we’ve been 4 episodes in, with actually no story happening. How is this only ending with only 1 episode? What is happening here?

HBO, however, stated that the series is not yet canceled, though we do hope it is.

All jokes aside, this series is extremely problematic, and everyone involved needs to be held accountable:

The Idol simply crosses the line between art and misogyny and becomes alarmingly blurred. This provocative show has raised questions about the absence of the #MeToo movement and Hollywood’s silence in the face of such explicit content. 

The content of “The Idol” is not only appalling but also a reflection of the creators’ disdain for women. It is a toxic mix of misogyny, sexual violence, and an unhealthy fascination with female suffering. The series has rightfully faced significant criticism for its depiction of women and the normalization of abuse.

HBO, as the platform responsible for airing “The Idol,” must bear the weight of its decision to endorse and distribute this troubling content. The show’s themes, dialogue, and treatment of women are deeply offensive and regressive, representing a step backward in the fight for gender equality and the respectful portrayal of women onscreen.

As viewers, we must hold HBO accountable and demand better from the entertainment industry. The creators of “The Idol,” Levinson and Tesfaye, should face the consequences for their contribution to a narrative that perpetuates misogyny and the objectification of women. The silence from those who championed the #MeToo movement in Hollywood is disheartening, and it raises important questions about the progress made and the work still left to be done.

“The Idol” serves as a stark reminder that artistic expression should not be an excuse for the promotion of harmful and offensive ideologies. It is crucial that we continue to challenge and reject works that perpetuate misogyny, ensuring a more inclusive, respectful, and empowering future for women in the entertainment industry.

What do you think?

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Written by Raghda El-Sayed

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of El-Shai.com and the crazy cat lady your mother warned you not to become!

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