What’s the hype about HBO’s The Idol?
So far, The Idol is the most polarizing series of the year. Some call it controversial because it is encouraging toxic masculinity and glamourising trauma. Others call it simply the best show ever made. So whats it all about?
The first provoking thing about this show was the fact that it had already been close to completion under direction of Amy Seimetz. The concept of the series was created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), Reza Fahim and Sam Levinson, known for Euphoria, who directed the reshoot of the series. No official statement as to why Seinmetz left the show has been made, but many speculate that her perspective was “too feminist”.
However, Jocelyn, the main character answers the question of who gets to decide about her – female – body within the first 10 minutes of the first episode, where she states “It’s my body. My album cover, my breasts and my house.”. Her body means her subjective choice, even if it may look sexist to some. This can be red as hint to the ongoing discussion on who gets to decide on what female bodies can be in our culture.
The show is about Jocelyn, a young popstar in a crisis, who struggles to regain access to her sources of creative inspiration. After the passing of her mother, she distract herself with drugs and alcohol, trying to numb the pain. Soon, the pressure wich is build up by her management team becomes crushing to observe. Her inner conflict – to please everyone on the one hand and to break out of it all on the other – is becoming obvious.
Eventually, she meets Tedros, a club owner, cult-leader and her soon to be lover. At first it’s hard to say whether he’s after Jocelyn for his own advantage or because he genuinely cares for her. Mike Dean (the acclaimed producer who worked with artists including Jay-Z, 2Pac, Madonna, Lana Del Rey and more) who plays himself in the series, is introduced to Jocelyn by Tedros to produce her upcoming songs.
Among other talented creatives like Ramsey, Troye Sivan, Moses Sumney and Jennie Ruby Jane, Mike Dean successfully blurs the line between the creative fields of movie and music industry, showing a multidisciplinary tour de force with an intriguing soundtrack. The already iconic make-up and styling have to be highlighted as well: brands who provided outfits for the charaters are selling out the pieces worn on the show.
Through the five episodes a harsh and honest light is shone on the entertainment industry. The relationship between Jocelyn and Tedros spirals into dark places, but she comes out stronger on the other end. Maybe she was broken and the scars remain, but she turned her pain into something beautiful, healing herself in the process. A lot can be said about The Idol, but to reduce it to a relationship destroyed by toxic masculinity would be too easy and simply wouldn’t do it justice. It’s about friendship and, ultimately: Powerdynamics within friendships, sexual relationships and work-relationships. What people are capable of to secure their advantage. And, as it becomes obvious in the unexpected plot twist of the last episode: it is about love.
Image Credits: ©HBO