It was one thing to hear about how (HBO) Max’s upcoming series The Idol from Sam Levinson and The Weeknd had reportedly become an expensive showcase of “sexual torture porn,” but it’s another to actually see moments from the show in a trailer that lays out the general gist of what’s going on.
In the world of The Idol, a pop star known as Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) is one of the most famous and overexposed singers working in the industry — a precarious situation that leads to her having a very severe and very public nervous breakdown. After a personal crisis leads to the cancellation of her most recent tour, Jocelyn finds herself lost and adrift until she meets club promoter Tedros (Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye), who becomes an influential — and manipulative — presence in her life.
Both the trailer’s use of “Gimme More” and a number of shots of Depp’s Jocelyn definitely suggest The Idol might have drawn some inspiration from moments in Britney Spears’ life and career for its characterization of a pop idol becoming ensnared in a machine looking to take advantage of her. But the trailer does also highlight how, in The Idol’s attempt to comment on the predatory skeeziness present in the entertainment industry, the show really seems to have leaned in for authenticity’s sake, which might make it a very difficult watch when it premieres on June 4th.