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REVIEW: 'The Idol'


The Idol—HBO and A24’s salacious chronicle of the fall and rebirth of sexpot pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) and her mutually destructive relationship with lover/muse/abusive cult leader Tedros Tedros (The Weeknd, né Abel Tesfaye)—earned a rare trifecta, taking heat from high-minded critics, the Parents Television Council, and puritanical Gen Z scolds alike, all of whom were tremendously put out by the show and its unwavering commitment to hedonistic nudity. Though far from perfect, The Idol is both an amusing throwback to HBO’s origins as a venue dedicated to the production of near-prurient televisual entertainment and also a scathing indictment of the entertainment-industrial complex’s efforts to manufacture, and then maintain, stardom.

You knew the knives would be out for The Idol early on. The series opens with Jos showing more skin during an album cover photo shoot than her nudity rider allowed, prompting a squeamish “intimacy coordinator” in a man bun to comically attempt to intervene. (Nipples are no good, but “side boob, underboob, and the side flank” are all fine, according to her enlightened knight.) His complaints make little sense—no one is being exploited here; the star herself is the one pushing the envelope; if The Idol wasn’t allowed to show Jos’s nipples each episode would be about 15…

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