“The Idol” could have been better

Pauline Le Pichon
4 min readAug 2, 2023

Warning: this article contains many spoilers.

I‘m a big fan of “Euphoria” and I was quite moved by “Malcolm & Marie”. So I couldn’t wait to watch “The Idol”, even though I knew it was going to be very different from what Sam Levinson had done before. I knew I risked being disappointed, but I still wanted to watch this series… and now I don’t know if I‘d watch a second season if there was one.
Indeed, I think some things could have been better and made this series a good one.

“The Idol” is about a young woman, Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), who’s a pop star. She has just suffered a serious mental breakdown. Jocelyn is due to release some new songs and go on tour soon, but she doesn’t seem ready yet. Meanwhile, she meets Tedros (The Weeknd/Abel Tesfaye), a strange guy who owns a club and knows a thing or two about music. He’s a kind of cult leader. He inspires Jocelyn, “helps” her, but he’s also very, very toxic for her. Jocelyn’s team feels that there’s something wrong with this guy… and the story gets darker and darker.

Making Jocelyn a fighter

Jocelyn is portrayed as a person exploited by almost everyone. First, there is her team, which is mostly concerned about her image and whether she can still perform… and therefore make money. The same goes for Tedros, who uses her for his club and his friends. Not to mention the fact that her mother beat her to make her succeed, which is obviously another form of abuse. People don’t care about her welfare, they just see her as a means to an end. And most of the time, Jocelyn accepts that. She looks like a lost girl who just wants to please people. She agrees to release a song she doesn’t really like. She accepts that her cook is fired by her new boyfriend. She accepts being humiliated at a dinner party. She does nothing when her ex is wrongly accused of rape because of Xander. She almost becomes like them… and these are just a few examples.

We know this story all too well. Then why not make Jocelyn a fighter? Why not give her a more interesting development, as if she were waking up from this nightmare? In the last episode, Jocelyn shows that she has brought Tedros back into her life. Wow… She chose someone who humiliated her over a team making money off her. Oh, come on!
In 2023, I want to see women saying “no”, women who stand up for themselves, who think and decide for themselves. If Jocelyn had been one of these women, I’d have called her an ‘idol’.

Most of the trashy scenes are unnecessary

It is no secret that “The Idol” contains many scenes of a sexual and/or violent nature. I’m thinking, for example, about the moment when Tedros makes Jocelyn touch herself in front of him. He tells her everything she has to do to herself. Yes, it’s all about power, just like the rest of the series, so this scene is completely useless. Tedros manipulates Jocelyn in every way possible, we get that. The same goes for the moment when Xander is tortured. It’s violent, and Jocelyn accepts it. Xander is not a good person, but I’m sure this show can exist without that scene. Let’s not forget the embarrassing scene, in the last episode, when Jocelyn dances in her living room to show what she can do. Oh God, I’m glad I didn’t watch this show with my mum. Just in case: a woman doesn’t need to show her bum to prove she’s talented.

The end has no end

I’ve already talked about the ending, but I‘d like to add something. I was happy that Tedros had been ejected from the whole thing. But when Jocelyn brought him back and introduced him as her one true love, I was very disappointed not only in his return, but also in what a second season would look like if there was one. It’s too predictable: we’re pretty sure Jocelyn is going to be torn between her team and Tedros.

“The Idol” isn’t the worst TV series ever. The initial idea isn’t so bad, and the actors are great (Lily-Rose Depp is particularly incredible in the second episode, during the filming of the music video). But it’s certainly not the best series Sam Levinson has created. It’s too superficial, whereas “Euphoria” is a masterpiece that made many of us cry, laugh and think. I love all the scenes in Euphoria because they are all moving. Unlike the trashy scenes from ‘The Idol’, they don’t seem to have been designed to be talked about or to shock.
Maybe I shouldn’t make comparisons between the two series, but it’s impossible not to mention the huge gap between them.

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Pauline Le Pichon

I’m a French visuel artist, freelance photographer, instructor and writer.