The Idol: one to avoid? 

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This is an artistic depiction of the main character from The Idol. The person is upside down and has a blank face without features. Along the top of the image are the words “THE IDOL” in full caps.
How many ways can you sexualize female mains before someone raises a red flag? Lee Lim

Male complaints of a feminine view remain a standard here

HBO’s Euphoria is known as one of today’s biggest hit shows. It has solidified its place in pop culture through its use of makeup, colour, and scandalous behaviours in high schools. Running Euphoria is Sam Levinson, a nepotism baby who seems to be followed by the controversy surrounding his shows. Lots of Euphoria cast members have expressed their discomfort with the number of nude scenes in the show. Moreover, the days on set are allegedly incredibly long, anywhere between 15 to 17 hours. 

Sam Levinson is working with HBO again to create a new show called The Idol, and if you thought Euphoria had controversy, you are in for a wild ride. The show stars Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, and Lily-Rose Depp. The story is about Depp’s character Jocelyn, who is a pop star, and Tesfaye’s character, Tedros, a club owner and cult leader. Tesfaye is also the co-creator of The Idol. The show is supposedly even darker and more risqué than Euphoria

The original director was Amy Seimetz, but she left last April despite the show being 80 percent complete. With Seimetz leaving, a huge adjustment followed for the cast, crew, and overall creatives. When Levinson showed up to take over as director, he allegedly got rid of all of Seimetz’s work, over $54 million’s worth, to rewrite the entire show and do reshoots of everything. Seimetz’s story had more of a feminist lens and saw Depp’s character as a young girl being prey to the industry. Levinson supposedly turns it into a hollow love story that degrades Jocelyn. A production member even claimed that the new version of the show was akin to a rape fantasy. 

Levinson was involved in the creative team behind The Idol from the beginning, but Seimetz was barely given anything to work with. People have claimed that the scripts she was given weren’t finished, the schedule had almost no breathing room between Seimetz’s commitment to Sweet Tooth and Tesfaye’s commitment to his world tour, and what HBO was expecting from her.  

Compared to other HBO shows like Euphoria or the wildly popular House of the Dragon, The Idol had a small budget, yet was expected to be the same quality as Euphoria which had almost double the budget. Beyond that, what Seimetz wanted and what Levinson wanted was completely different and some claim that Levinson wasn’t willing to be as collaborative as they hoped. 

When Seimetz left the show and Levinson stepped into the director role, one of the main reasons Levinson came in and overhauled the show was because Tesfaye allegedly wasn’t happy that the show was so focused on women, especially Depp’s character. It was too feminist for him. 

The original script was allegedly great and told an incredible story about how fame can trap and exploit young women, but Seimetz was expected to write the finale episode while directing the show. As a result of unfinished scripts, what they had written was constantly being changed and rewritten. This led to crew members not knowing what they were expected to complete while at work. 

One character that Levinson added was one for Jennie, a K-Pop star known for being in the group Blackpink. This appears to be more of a marketing tactic than anything else. Since adding Jennie to the cast, K-pop stans have been supporting the show any chance they have. Despite that, Jennie’s character is allegedly not important at all and doesn’t do much for the show. 

Crew members have claimed that Levinson’s new version of the story sees Depp’s character enjoying the abuse that she faces from Tesfaye’s character. They called the show sexual torture porn. Some details of drafted scenes are so disgusting as well as physically and sexually abusive that I’m not going to list them here. 

Once the show is released, more information will likely come out about the sexual, physical, and mental abuse that Depp’s character faces and there will be even more controversy surrounding Levinson and Tesfaye. Until then, Seimetz’s show will continue to be pushed aside until all that remains is another one of Levinson’s explicit sexual shows. 

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