What is Witty Watching?

The Idol – TV Review
October 4, 2023

Synopsis: Jocelyn is desperate to reclaim her rightful title as the greatest and sexiest pop diva in America after a nervous breakdown disrupted her most recent tour after Tedros, a notorious nightclub entrepreneur, reignites her passions.
Showrunner: Joseph Epstein
Stars: The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp, Suzanna Son, Jennie Kim, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Hank Azaria

As a musician, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye is a highly gifted artist, while Lily-Rose Depp comes from a family of celebrities (Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis). This has nothing to do with the show about to be reviewed; I just wanted to start with something positive.

The Idol was hyped and looked exciting, but after watching it, I’ll never get back those five-plus hours. The show focuses on Jocelyn (Depp), a pop diva with millions of adoring fans who recently suffered a nervous breakdown. Most in her inner circle are too busy walking on eggshells to tell her she is off her game and hasn’t fully recovered.

Jocelyn is dealing with insecurities, and the whispers around aren’t helping. One night, one of her dancers, Dyanne (Jennie from the Kpop group Blackpink), invites her to a nightclub where she meets Tedros (The Weeknd). He instantly gives her the attention she craves, and before long, they start dating. (It’s five episodes, so they need to move this along.)

But this is very intense as he inserts himself into her life and starts to take over. He has a commanding, bullying-type personality, and she succumbs to it. He fires people who have been in her life for years and starts to dictate how her career should be run.

Is this how things happen in abusive relationships? Of course. But how does he get away with it in Hollywood when a team of people supports the star?

The sex scenes are also intense. Unnecessary but intense. Years ago, there was a comparison between the movies Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct. It was felt that if you take the sex scenes out of Fatal Attraction, you still have an incredible film. However, if you take the sex scenes out of Basic Instinct, you don’t have much. The same goes for the sex scenes in The Idol; you don’t have much.

Oddly enough, Basic Instinct is playing on a TV in the background during one scene in the show. The ‘intimacy expert’ hired for The Idol must have been preoccupied with all of the S&M scenes that don’t add much to the show. They don’t enhance the show but come off as a desperate attempt for attention.

The supporting cast is bizarre. Horror film director Eli Roth pops up as an executive, and one of the breakout stars from Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, Susanna Son, must have stopped taking her agent’s advice. She goes from that excellent film to this project.

The writing is atrocious. In one episode, the audience is supposed to hate a character, and in the next, we are supposed to love them, not because they did anything redeeming — the writing team has no idea what continuity is.

This show has ‘look at me’ syndrome running in high gear.

As the series progresses, you simply don’t care about either lead — neither is likeable, neither is that interesting. There is a way to tell the story of two damaged people who come together. It has been done before. It wasn’t done here.

It’s insulting to mention a show like Entourage that offered a glimpse into Hollywood life; insulting to Entourage, an Emmy Award-winning show. The closest The Idol will get to an Emmy Award is if one of the cast members crashes an Emmy party.

The only performances that deserve a mention are Hank Azaria and Da’Vine Joy Randolph. They were good but not good enough to keep this trash from sinking.

When the five episodes are over, you don’t feel further ahead than when you started. The characters haven’t really progressed. Is there a deeper meaning here? — no, there is nothing deep about this show.

The fifth episode is an utter joke. And they can’t use the defense of the writers’ strike. This was done long before that happened. One should get a medal for finishing this. Not because they finished it but because it puts you in the position to warn the others not to watch it. That would be the hero medal.

As mentioned, The Weeknd is a great musical talent. Before he was mainstream, his mixtapes were very popular. Echoes of Silence was fantastic. In his first real acting role, you think, Ok, he just needs better material,’ and then you realize he was one of the writers on this! WHAT?!?!?!?

Perhaps he and his writing partners should have spent more time on the show’s substance and less time on shock value, and we’d be having a different conversation.

The day will come when I leave this earth, and as I am lying on my bed and my life is flashing by, I will pray that he extends that time by the five hours I wasted on The Idol.

Grade: F

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