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‘The Idol’ Round 3: More Disturbing Trauma and Public Oral Sex

This week’s chapter of The Idol begins with one of the best eye rolls in recent memory, partially because it comes from the wildly talented Rachel Sennott (who plays personal assistant Leia), but also because it echoes my exact sentiment towards this dreadful new episode. With lazy parallels to the cult-like Manson Family, torture scenes, and jokes about Jeffrey Epstein, “Daybreak,” which marks the halfway point of Season 1, The Idol has become completely unsalvageable.

The eyeroll comes as Leia drives pop-star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) and her new BF/manager/cult leader Tedros (The Weeknd) around Beverly Hills. With the roof of the convertible down, in broad daylight, Tedros performs oral sex on Jocelyn. Now, while folks were calling the sex scenes in The Idol some of “the worst” of all time, these scenes have actually become some of my favorite parts of the show—but not because they’re particularly good. In fact, they’re terrible. But the cheesiness actually allows me to feel some sort of emotion (in this case, second-hand embarrassment), whereas the show makes me bored. Other than Tedros being creepy and Jocelyn struggling to emotionally recover from her mother’s death, has anything actually happened in this show?

In the first 15 minutes of this episode, once again, nothing happens. Tedros takes Jocelyn to get some new fits at Valentino and, in the cruelest twist of the season, we don’t get to actually see any of the actual clothes. Let me see the cute pop starlet in dazzling cherry red outfits! What’s the point of a shopping montage if I’m going to be forced to watch Tedros battle security guards (he fears they’re stealing his girl) instead of Lily-Rose Depp trying on looks?

We get 10 more minutes of Tedros asserting his dominance—he goes down on Jocelyn again in the middle of the backyard at her mansion, while Leia once again watches, and fires Joss’ personal chef for examining her belly—before The Idol finally moves on. Chaim (Hank Azaria) and Destiny (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), Jocelyn’s co-managers, show up at her compound to gauge the Tedros situation. They allow him to stay for the time being. But they know Jocelyn is in a bad situation.

I stood up and clapped at my TV when Dyanne (Jennie Kim) reappeared, shooting the “World Class Sinner” music video with Nikki (Jane Adams). The secret rivalry between Dyanne and Jocelyn is currently one of the most enthralling aspects of this show, and it’s a shame we only briefly get to see that storyline. Bring back Nikki and Dyanne!

Meanwhile, Tedros does his best to mingle with who’s left of Jocelyn’s team. While Leia is unimpressed by her boss’ new romantic interest, Jocelyn’s creative manager Xander (Troye Sivan) teams up with Tedros to plan out her next album. Xander wants to get dirtier. Pop music hasn’t had a “truly fucking nasty, bad, bad girl” in a long time. Perhaps, he suggests, to really cement her bad girl image, Jocelyn’s next album cover should be that viral photo with semen smeared on her face.

Jocelyn isn’t convinced. In the best scene of the season thus far, Tedros and his cult of followers (played by actors including Moses Sumney and Suzanna Son) try to convince the pop star to embrace her “jizz rag Jocelyn” identity. She’s not convinced. Tedros won’t let it go.

“It’s actually humiliating and makes me feel really bad about myself. I want to be taken seriously,” Jocelyn insists, but Tedros isn’t listening. It’s intense. Then, Jocelyn puts her foot down: “Why are you talking to me like I’m new to the music industry? I’m not. You are.” Shots fired.

This stand-off between Jocelyn and Tedros, with people watching and bearing witness, is what I was hoping would come from The Idol. It’s just a shame that the scene is bookended with more of the same old “Tedros is a controlling egomaniac” we’ve been spoon-fed for the entire season so far.

Tedros asks Jocelyn to embrace her innermost traumas—namely, being physically abused by her mother with a hairbrush—so that she can “turn it into inspiration.” How cliché. The episode ends with Tedros using that same hairbrush to torture her all over again. Thankfully, we don’t have to witness the violent scene. We only see Joss sobbing, in so much pain. Then, she has an epiphany: “Thank you for taking care of me,” she tells Tedros. Cue one final eye roll.

The Sam Levinson of It All

Sam Levinson, who has already drummed up quite a bit of controversy thanks to his past works like Euphoria and Malcolm & Marie, is the creative “visionary” behind The Idol. Here are the moments we thought really show the audience the man he is.

-“Gun. Gun,” Chaim says, requesting Destiny to retrieve his firearm from the glove compartment before he meets Tedros. We’re probably looking at a Chekhov’s Gun situation here, where the gun will come back several times to foreshadow some sort of violent scene coming soon. At least, that’s what we saw in Euphoria.

-How many times can this episode name drop Mike Dean. “He’s Kanye’s producer,” says Tedros, played by The Weeknd, another client of Mike Dean. Cool it! (Perhaps this should actually be filed under “The Weeknd of it All,” but at this point, I’m lumping the creators together.)

-The Live Nation (Eli Roth) rep is upset about Jocelyn, and because we need to know he’s a terrible person, he makes a terrible joke: “Right now she’s making me have IBS. I’m fuckin’ shitting more blood than a kid at Epstein’s island.” Can we please come up with a joke that is clever, cruel, and not drum up a terrible image in my head?

-Jocelyn is back at it again with the single tears this episode. As she talks about the death of her mother for the umpteenth time, one lone drop slides down her cheek. Props to Depp for her acting, but we’re reaching dangerously high levels of melodrama here.

 

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