HBO just dropped a trailer for The Idol, ahead of its premiere on June 5. Created by Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye and Sam Levinson (Euphoria), the series serves as a twisted romance satire of the entertainment industry through the eyes of a fallen pop idol struggling to return to stardom. Exploitation, drugs, sex, and pop music run rampant in this final trailer, all of which were also the subject of controversy at the Cannes Film Festival — more specifically, the overtly graphic sexual scenes, alongside concerns regarding some on-set turmoil. Levinson also directs all six episodes of The Idol.
The Idol trailer opens with a voiceover from Tedros (The Weeknd), a self-help guru who also happens to be running a modern-day cult, slowly seeping into Jocelyn’s (Lily-Rose Depp) life. “You’re the American dream,” he tries to motivate her. “Rags to riches. Trailers to mansions. You are f–king Jocelyn. Just be you.” The aspiring pop idol is desperate for that kind of attention, in the wake of her nervous breakdown which caused her last tour to get cancelled. Jocelyn is in a freefall, so to speak, and needs to gain that extra edge that would help her reclaim her stardom. That’s where the nightclub owner Tedros entered the scene, offering input on her life choices, wardrobe, and collaborators, hoping to turn Jocelyn into a star to be reckoned with. The Idol trailer depicts these changes through her overly sexual dance moves that cause worry among her team members.
“I’m telling you right now, these people in here are gauging whether or not you still got it,” manager Destiny (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) warns Jocelyn, highlighting how judgemental and exploitative the industry is. It’s even more vexing taking the backup dancers and strippers into consideration, who are easily ‘out-femmeing’ her. Dyanne (Jennie Ruby Jane) is one such dancer who shows high promise — enough to replace Jocelyn as the lead performer. The Idol trailer then focuses on her peers who are concerned about Tedros’ involvement, with voiceovers saying, “He’s brainwashed her.” It’s hard to convince her out of that relationship either, as the trailer implies that she has fallen in love with Tedros and that they are inseparable.
As The Idol trailer blends into a montage of flashing lights and celebrations, Tedros describes Jocelyn as a ‘star’ and ‘not a human being’, which she appears to be totally fine with, suggesting that she’s probably in the dark about how much money and fame her boyfriend gains out of her exploitation. “Never trust a dude with a rat tail,” Destiny remarks, sitting inside a car. The Idol also stars Suzanna Son (Red Rocket), singer Troy Sivan, Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek), Rachel Sennott (Bodies Bodies Bodies), and Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds).
As mentioned before, The Idol wasn’t without its fair share of on-set drama, with original director Amy Seimetz exiting from the show due to massive creative overhauls. Reports suggest that when Levinson came on board to replace her, he scrapped the nearly-finished $75 million (about Rs. 620 crore) project to rewrite and reshoot entirely. Co-creator Tesfaye/ The Weeknd reportedly seems to be the driving force here, who felt the show was heading towards a ‘female perspective.’
The Idol premieres June 5 on JioCinema in India. Regions with HBO/ Max available can stream the show on June 4, starting at 9pm ET.