Imagine if your favorite 4 star restaurant started serving frozen fast food.
HBO is the home of fine dining, featuring dishes like “Succession.” “Barry” and “Hacks”. Even “Euphoria” has its moments.
But “The Idol” is dark, gross and vulgar. It’s full of absurd recycled ideas and pornographic sex that would be right at home on HBO’s Cinemax, not HBO’s mainstream network, which we know loves Emmy awards.
Jocelyn is the one-name pop tart here. Like all characters, she is hideous. She’s also the victim of vile people like a mysterious nightclub owner named Tedros Tedros, played with park bench energy by The Weeknd.
There was a premonition that Tedros was a cult leader. But I’ll tell you who he is now after watching the show. Tedros Tedros is based in part on Tohme Tohme, the man who called himself a doctor and sneaked into Michael Jackson’s life a year before his death. I – that reporter – revealed at the time that Tohme was not a doctor and had an unclear background. He got into all sorts of legal battles with the Jackson Estate. I guess you could say he was a cult leader – with a following of one.
Jocelyn is said to be a combination of Madonna and Britney Spears. The show uses music and references to these singers to separate them from these stars. But Jocelyn is like reheated leftovers. There is nothing unique or likeable about her. It’s not Lily Rose Depp’s fault that the main characteristics of her character are to give pleasure to herself and men too, so ejaculated liquids are photographed on her face. And that’s what we see in a photo Jocelyn may have taken of herself, which has now been leaked on Tik Tok. (Apparently her devoted assistant was leaked.)
“The Idol” has no idea about the music business. The attitude is broadly in line with what tabloids think of the music business: they believe in gossip, not reality. The show feels like a soft-core porn version of Valley of the Dolls, with no joke or irony. You can’t tell if someone is actually serious. Jocelyn is surrounded by vampires who are supposed to be her “family” after the death of her beloved mother. (The dead mother is an ingredient they inherited from Madonna, along with her puffy cheekbones.)
In the two episodes we watched, not only did we learn that Jocelyn masturbated multiple times, we also got to know this corrupt family. Her advisors invited a Vanity Fair reporter, played by transgender actor Hari Nef. (I wonder how longtime journalist Lynn Hirschberg will feel about this story.) There’s no way in real life that a reporter could be invited unfettered entry into a superstar’s home without a publicist watching. The publicist in this case is played by Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek, who apparently thinks the show is a comedy. It is not.
Other vile people include the very good Jane Adams as the manager (I think), Eli Roth as the cliche agent (reading anti-Semitic, sorry) from Live Nation (yes, the concert promoter’s name is used), and Hank Azaria uses a fake one Israeli accent and sounds like his character from The Birdcage or even The Simpsons. Poor Hank – if only he could sound like himself.
The show is inherently ridiculous. The idea of a Miley, a Demi, a Britney arriving at a nightclub, having sex with the owner on a flight of stairs, and then inviting him over to her freezing mega-million home to have more sex and remix her records — eh, no .
Furthermore, Jocelyn is a miserable stereotype of a pop artist. There is nothing unusually good about what she has done. Her main talent is sex with herself. Musically she is not interesting at all. Their songs are banal disco garbage, the kind you hear every day on Top 40 radio. But who cares? Nothing makes them special. Shall we see a TV series about her? From those two episodes on, I was against her – unlike, for example, Zendaya’s character Rue in Euphoria – I was also against writer-director Sam Levinson.
But “Euphoria,” for all its sex and drugs, has a heart. It’s shocking, but there’s a reason. You know that humans are heightened versions of reality, but they talk to each other in an understandable way. There’s nothing you can understand about these people other than hating them.