[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Idol, Season 1 Episode 1, “Pop Tarts & Rat Tails.”]
Think about the worst pop song you’ve ever heard: Perhaps there was a lyric that felt out of place, or a riff that didn’t sit right. Maybe the song was reductive, uninspired, forced, or out of touch. More likely, though, for a song to go from inconsequential to outright detestable, it has to be grating. It has to be repetitive. It has to be boring.
To be boring is the worst sin a pop song can commit. Along similar lines, unfortunately, HBO‘s The Idol, proves to be a sorry replacement for the Sunday evening lineups many viewers have grown to love — and won’t be stuck in your head anytime soon.
Helmed by Sam Levinson, a creator best known for HBO’s Euphoria and being dismissive of conversations around consent and onscreen nudity, the premise is easy enough to follow: The first episode introduces us to Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a pop star at the height of her youth and beauty but struggling to recover from a highly publicized “psychotic break.”
We’re in the lead-up to a new single from Jocelyn, a comeback of sorts, and her anxious assistant and best friend Leia (Rachel Sennott), longtime manager Chaim (Hank Azaria), and publicist (Dan Levy, who seems to be acting in a more whimsical and hopefully better show) flit around her nervously, attempting to appease her and keep her days on track. Her innermost circle is rounded out by other notable figures with less defined roles, played by Troye Sivan, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Jane Adams.
The Idol has been making headlines for some time now, and mostly for less than savory reasons: A detailed and well-sourced piece from Rolling Stone described a show that began as an interesting commentary on stardom and descended into self-parody and something more akin to “torture porn.” While refuting the description, Sam Levinson responded at Cannes by saying, “I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.”