“The Idol” Review: What Did I Just Watch?

“The Idol” just premiered last June 5, but it has now concluded with its fifth and final episode airing over the weekend. This controversial HBO series was originally ordered for a six-episode season but has reportedly faced constant filming delays, reshoots, rewrites, and other setbacks. People all over the world have been talking about the show ever since its premiere, although if Filipinos aren’t buzzing about it as much yet, I think it’s because they can’t watch it–not because it’s not available in the country (you can stream “The Idol” via the HBO Go app)–but because of the number of explicit scenes.

In this review, however, I will try to focus on the other stuff…as much as I can. In case you plan on watching the series later though without spoilers, then be warned: there are SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

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Photos: “The Idol” on Instagram

Before its one-month run, “The Idol” creator Sam Levinson, who also created “Euphoria,” predicted that this “provocative” drama would be “the biggest show of the summer”. Eventually, it aired its pilot episode and from then on, started receiving unfavorable critiques. By the time episode two premiered, a 12% dip in viewership across HBO and Max was reflected in a report by Warner Bros. Discovery.

Regardless of the feedback I’ve read online, I went on with the ride and hoped for the best. I mean, why not? It stars pop artists Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye (who also co-created the show), Blackpink’s Jennie Kim, and “Youth” singer Troye Sivan, among others! It even featured the talents of Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Depp, Hank Azaria, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Hari Nef, and Rachel Sennott. So, like, why not? I proceeded to watch the show episode after episode to watch my idols.


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Right after episode one, I observed a factor that may have contributed to the disappointment. Despite The Weeknd being known for his music videos that tell stories, it remained unclear to me as a viewer what the series is going to be all about with this episode alone. Usually, pilots are used to sell TV shows to networks/distributors in the US, and are meant to pique the audience’s interest so that they’d watch the full season. Clearly, expectations were set…but if the creators purposely defied the guidelines for this show, then I salute the bold creative decision that they were brave enough to make.

As the show progressed, the general concept unfolded–that it follows the story of Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a pop star “struggling” to jump back to her career after the death of her mother who allegedly mistreated her and a truly unspeakable scandal. She then comes across a sketchy club owner whom she falls in love with and eventually rules over her house and career in general. In the finale, however, Tedros (The Weeknd) only turns out to be Jocelyn’s scapegoat on whom she could pin all her acts of unapologetic misconduct. And, that’s it!

Not to say that it wasn’t a good plot in general–because I personally think that it is–but if they were to take out the elaborateness of the love-making scenes (even though Johnny Depp didn’t seem to mind them), maybe it would have been a great movie! Tesfaye did mention earlier that the series is all about the “idol lifestyle,” and the story’s skeleton does make a good fictional concept.


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Joss, the character we thought was too broken to function, was actually not as pitiful as deemed to be. Although Tedros did manipulate her and take advantage of her pop star status, the hero of the story rose and proved that she is rightful of her throne. She took back everything she owns and more…her boy toy included. The point where she snapped out of the lavender haze was a “yas, queen” moment! A standing ovation is deserved for her immediate response to take over the wheel and drive Tedros out of her house and life! Joss even did it without blinking, and it was empowering to see someone so damaged break free from the shackles of trauma and depression, gloriously redeeming her fame and power through the coming together of her tour.

But also, I was like, “b*tch, what?” in the end when she revealed that the traumatizing story about her mom was all made up, and then declared Tedros as her lover on stage! It felt like getting rid of Tedros a.k.a. Mauricio Jackson was nothing but a powerplay to exert dominance over him, which then refutes all the empowering redemption story. And that’s basically the twist–that Joss was in control all along–giving her that Joe Goldberg anti-hero vibe. It made me wonder how far Jocelyn is willing to go in order to get what she wants, even at the cost of her “family,” if the story went on with another episode or a second season.

I also stumbled upon the thought of this series being based on a certain amount of truth. If it was, then maybe it’s somewhat like “13 Reasons Why,” where the ugly truth being explicitly presented makes it a good show. It was not meant for people to love it, it only conveys a message throughout the series in order to spark conversations, which it did. Come to think of it, “The Idol” also did get people talking about it. The difference is that in this show, the “ugly truth” would be that sensational advertising and provocative marketing work, “there’s a gold mine in mental illness,” and our idols may not be who they appear to be.


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Whatever caused The Idol‘s reviews, one thing’s for sure: it wasn’t the casting and musical directors. The star-studded cast slayed in their musical performances! Every number was definitely worth watching…except for that one scene where Jocelyn “performed” with Tedros. Both Lily-Rose Depp and Jennie Ruby Jane (who played the role of Dyanne) gave powerful performances as advertised, but can we all agree that Suzanna Son was definitely the breakout artist in this series??? For me, her character Chloe stole the spotlight with her enchanting voice, most especially at times when Joss and Tedros were too painful to watch.

Meanwhile, Moses Sumney and Euphoria’s Ramsey also delivered during the showcase and Troye Sivan is…well, Troye Sivan! So in my opinion, in spite of the controversial production of the TV-MA Mature Audience Only-rated series, the official soundtrack of “The Idol” helmed by The Weeknd is unarguably a collection of good music! At least, we can all be at peace that he remains to be the awesome musician that we idolize.

How about you, have you seen “The Idol”? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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