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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review - The Idol Season 1

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.

Lily Rose Depp, Abel Tesfaye, Rachel Sennott, Suzanna Son, Troye Sivan, Jane Adams, Jennie Kim, Moses Sumney, Hari Nef, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Eli Roth, Hank Azaria & Karl Glusman.

The Idol is quite possibly the most controversial show in the last decade, especially for a series only in its first season. From the alleged rumours from behind the scenes with Sam Levinson & The Weeknd’s creative process, taking away all the work done by writer Amy Seimetz. The internet has gone crazy & maybe too far? Clearly blinded by hate, the series is far from what people have painted it to be. But it’s certainly far from perfect.

Sam Levinson is once again, proving to be an auteur in his visual language. Every frame is consistently gorgeous, or serves its purpose and it’s clear that, while narratively not too strong, Levinson has an eye for cinematography and the story he wants to tell on camera. However, he can tend to hold onto things a bit too long, particularly the sex scenes. While I believe a lot of the nudity/sex DO serve a purpose and lead towards the series overall theme, Levinson has multiple scenes running for far longer than it should to deliver the exact message he wants to convey, which begins to lose its meaning as the seconds go by. As well as lots of skin being shown in moments that may not require it. The series loses focus when scenes like this go on for too long, especially when these scenes are following ones that I would say are fantastic. But the discussion about the nudity & sex feels silly in the grand scheme of things as HBO features all this consistently throughout most their series, particularly Game of Thrones which barely shares the same criticism. There are plenty of fantastically written & directed moments, where the narrative is clear and our character get more time to shy.

It certainly helped for my viewing experience that it was clear Levinson was self aware. Multiple characters are the voice of reason & I think hateful audiences have been blind to this. Particularly Abel’s character ‘Tedros’, which people have deliberately chosen to ignore the character and view him as Abel’s view of an ideal man. This is not the case. Each episode Tedros is very clearly painted as a cold blooded killer & NOT someone to side with. His actions are manipulative, abusive & disgusting and the show is very clear of this and aware. Audiences have started to lose simple understanding of storytelling when controversy surrounds it, particularly controversy yet to be proven. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to defend Abel’s performance, while not terrible, is a completely fine performance for a character with such a large antagonistic role. He has to work with such intimidating scenes & only JUST scrapes through due to Levinson’s fantastic filmmaking and supporting performances. It’s comedic moments all landed for me & was a breath of fresh air for a series that can get very deep and personal.

5 episodes for a season is not enough. And it couldn’t be more clear here. A story deserving of double those episodes to fully flesh out each character & have emotionally conclusive arcs. There’s greatness in multiple of these characters, such as Jocelyn, Chloe, Leia & Xander whom I thought were the standouts in terms of characterisation. And while their exploration was very admirable for 5 episodes, I can’t help but urge for more. Da’Vine was hilarious and loveable, stealing every moment and such a reasonable addition to the series, the level headed and clear headed individual to truly see what is going on. The entire cast deliver fantastic performances, besides Abel, and I can’t help but feel bad to those who’ve been sucked into this huge controversy.

The music, cinematography, sound design, production design & other technical elements are all to a high standard, especially on TV. But unfortunately, the story really lacks in much depth and this is due to its lack of episodes. The emotion is there and there is enough depth for audiences to feel something, but it’s all hidden behind scenes that go on for far too long. Overshadowing the series greater moments. The dialogue isn’t always perfect, but serves its purpose and is paced well.

It’s clearly trying to convey a lot of themes and messages and I do think for the most part, it succeeds at this. However, as stated before, this could have been explored so much more with more episodes and it all just feels rather disappointing in the end. Especially following Levinson’s immensely popular and acclaimed ‘Euphoria’.

The Idol is no way near as bad as the internet makes it out to be. It’s self aware & there’s a lot here to be admired and could age better as time goes on. Its technical elements are at the highest of standards, but the script falls short. The finale makes a questionable decision involving Tedros' character that I'm unsure on yet, but with a potential Season 2, this certainly could be explore more. There’s Emmy potential here in certain categories, particularly performances but it’ll all be ignored by its huge controversy. As well as a season 2.

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