The Idol cancelled: funniest climax for world’s least sexy show | Television

The Idol cancelled: funniest climax for world’s least sexy show | Television

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The Idol cancelled: funniest climax for world’s least sexy show | Television
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“Skin-crawling … nasty, brutish … and way, way worse than you’d have anticipated” (Rolling Stone). “It feels like being licked all over by some dirty, drunk club DJ growling: ‘Nice ass’” (The Times, UK). “Kinky yet empty, like a visit to a red-light district during the pandemic” (People magazine). The Weeknd unzips his trousers “with all the energy and sexual enticement of Gollum scurrying for a fish” (GQ).

That journalists – journalists, of all the joyless, sexless people on God’s green earth – would watch The Idol and think “I’ve done hot yoga sexier than this” was surely the death knell for Sam Levinson’s skeazy HBO drama about the skeazy music biz, which starred Lily-Rose Depp as a dead-eyed pop star and Abel “the Weeknd” Tesfaye as a coked-up cult leader who joylessly make whoopee for a few hours of telly.

But finally, we have our climax: The Idol – described by this publication as “one of the worst programs ever made” – has been cancelled after just one season, announced in a diplomatic statement issued by HBO on Monday.

“The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” the spokesperson said. “After much thought and consideration, HBO, as well as the creators and producers, have decided not to move forward with a second season.”

It’s like reading an artfully coded obituary: “provocative” means “laughed at”, “strong audience response” means “GQ said we made the worst sex scene in history”, and “much thought and consideration” means “yes, we saw teens on Tiktoks making fun of Tesfaye saying ‘pussy’.”

Surprising nobody, it turns out that when a show or film labels itself “provocative” and Hank Azaria is doing an accent, you’re in for a world of pain. The Idol failed as a satire of how horny and puerile show business is because it was so horny and puerile. Watching Depp smoke endless cigarettes and choke herself until she climaxed, it was hard not to shake the thought that Levinson and Tesfaye, the show’s co-creators, thought this was all very cool. Never has a show been so brazenly titillated by dirty talk, hot women smoking and, well, tits. (Remember, the Idol was directed by Levinson, who has been told by at least four female actors on record to dial back the unnecessary nude scenes in Euphoria.)

The Idol was a product of Hollywood, the playpen of the sexually repressed: watch one Gaspar Noé film, or a von Trier, or even Normal People, and the Idol immediately looks very silly indeed. It was charmlessly defensive against the criticism it was anticipating from puritanical weirdos: one character rails against “college-educated internet people … trying to cock-block America”, in a show that desperately wanted college-educated internet people to get riled up over some boobs and a slap on the tush.

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According to the show’s self-mythologising, if a line of dialogue was stupid (“If you going to sing a song called I’m a Freak, you should sing it like you know how to fuck”), it was meant to be stupid. If the sex was gross, it was meant to be gross. (“There’s nothing sexy about it,” Tesfaye told GQ of his much-mocked 10-minute sex scene that put the phwoar in war crimes; hey, the Guardian did call upon the Hague to punish Tesfaye for his performance.) If the show was misogynist or degrading or often really boring, well that was the point and we were all just not getting it. Levinson thought he was making Boogie Nights and made Showgirls instead.

The Idol was not even as bad as it could have been: multiple anonymous sources on the show alleged to Rolling Stone that a draft scene involved Depp carrying an egg in her vagina. If she dropped or cracked the egg, Tesfaye’s character would refuse to “rape” her, which she would beg him to do because she believed their sexual dynamic was helping her.

This scene was allegedly never filmed because the production department couldn’t find a way to shoot it realistically without having Depp actually insert an egg. And if that doesn’t make you say ew, watch The Idol.


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The Idol cancelled: funniest climax for world’s least sexy show | Television

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