With ratings plummeting from bad to worse, HBO’s new show ‘The Idol’ has so far been viewed by very few, and yet is already being boycotted by many. The show’s director, Sam Levinson – also of ‘Euphoria’ fame – has claimed that his direction of ‘The Idol’ sets out to hold a mirror up to the disturbing truth of celebrity exploitation. However, it would appear that the show has since had said mirror turned on itself, and staring back into the glass is Sam himself, grimacing at his own reflection. But where did it all go so horribly wrong?
In case you haven’t heard of it, ‘The Idol’ is a new show coming to HBO on June 4th which stars Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd as a celebrity being pushed to the edge of her capabilities and a nightclub owner/the one who’s doing the pushing. Intended to be a gritty, honest, and heart-wrenching depiction of the exploitation of vulnerable artists in the music industry, discourse around the show has apparently exposed it for almost replicating its own narrative behind the scenes.
Perhaps doomed from the start, ‘The Idol’ had already begun raising eyebrows after its original director – Amy Seimetz – exited the show without warning back in April. Many have credited Seimetz’s departure from ‘The Idol’, and Sam Levinson being chosen as the replacement, as being the show’s ultimate downfall, due to the fact that it stripped away any female influence from a storyline that is, at its core, based on the financial, mental, and sexual exploitation of a woman.
Following the ‘The Idol’s preview at Cannes Film Festival earlier this week, critics, members of the media, and others who attended the viewing have revealed their reactions to the show, and few seem to be positive. The show’s trailer which promised to be “sick and twisted” has obviously delivered, with Rolling Stone publishing an article titled: “‘The Idol’ Is More Toxic and Way Worse Than You’ve Heard.”
This is even after the onslaught of rumours which have come from those working on the set of ‘The Idol’, who in an interview with Rolling Stone described the show as: “sexual torture porn,” and “the thing it was satirizing.” This in turn raised uncomfortable questions about Sam Levinson’s directing technique as a whole, with many referencing the sex scenes in his prior show ‘Euphoria’, which were arguably more frequent than needed and almost as graphic as those depicted in ‘The Idol’.
Now that the first episode of Sam Levinson’s ‘The Idol’ has actually been aired – albeit to a select few – we’re beginning to see how staff working on the set of ‘The Idol’ were more than right to feel uncomfortable. It’s a TV show not littered with but dominated by gratuitous sex scenes, whilst simultaneously aiming to call out said exploitation within the industry.
On a more positive note, many who attended the Cannes Film Festival praised Lily-Rose Depp’s debut performance. Her acting was described as both powerful and emotional, and is hopefully the start of a long, successful career. However, the true question is: was Lily-Rose good enough to bring ‘The Idol’ back from the reputation it has garnered so far? We’re hopeful… but not optimistic.
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