By Amanda Gilmore
Sam Levinson’s latest TV Series is Euphoria meets 50 Shades of Grey, while set in the world of a Pop Superstar.
The first two episodes, which screened Out of Competition at Cannes, sets up the mindset of Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp). She recently lost her mother which led to a nervous breakdown that derailed her last tour. Now she’s releasing anticipated new music with the hope to be the greatest, sexiest pop star in America. However, she’s still grieving over her loss, leaving her vulnerable.
Cue club owner Tedros (Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye), who sees the vulnerability and takes advantage of it. He swoops in and helps her remix her newest single. As Jocelyn is already underwhelmed by the original version, Tedros ignites a passion within her again. But will this new romantic-professional relationship bring new heights or the deepest of lows for the Popstar?
There are lots of provocative sexualized scenes in The Idol. For those familiar with Euphoria, the scenes here are dialed-up a notch further. However, these provocative scenes are being used to highlight bigger themes and messages within the Script. Here, Levinson — and Co-Creators Tesfaye and Reza Fahim — are dissecting the highs and lows of a life of a pop icon.
In the first episode, a compromising photo gets released online of Jocelyn. It shows the singer with ejaculate on her face. Everyone on her team immediately attempts to spin this into a positive light for the star. This brings us to the life of the busy bees that surround and ‘manage’ a popstar. Additionally, it highlights how they keep her protected from these horrible things for fear of another break.
The people surrounding Jocelyn care for her deeply. Some even take on the role of pseudo-parents (Hank Azaria and Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s characters) even if they don’t always know what’s best. The person who will move mountains for her is her best friend and Assistant Leia (Rachel Sennott). Sennot is superb as the caring friend who’s the only one who sees Tedros as the snake he is.
In his acting debut, Tesfaye, dawning a Rattail, gives a chilling performance as the manipulative Tedros. In these first two episodes, the Actors share tantalizing scenes that people will have mixed feelings over. However, once again Levinson is using them to inform the viewer of the mental states of his characters. Tedros is controlling while Jocelyn succumbs to his demands.
Depp gives a groundbreaking performance that will skyrocket her character. And the Supporting Cast is outstanding. To name a few not priorly mentioned: Troye Sivan, Jane Adams and Blackpink’s Jennie Kim. And at the end of the second episode, Red Rocket breakout Suzanna Son delivers a show-stopping performance while sitting at a piano.
We’re excited to see where the Series goes from here.
The Idol screens at Cannes ’23:
Mon May 22 at 10:30PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
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