The Idol review: HBO series starring Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd

I’m a fan of Sam Levinson’s series “Euphoria”, said Barbara Ellen in The Observer. It’s made for teenagers, but it has decent storylines and solid characters. Now, Levinson has co-created a six-part series for HBO (available to watch on Now) – and alas, it’s a “risible, cliché-riddled” dud. Lily-Rose Depp stars as Jocelyn, a pop singer who we meet “undulating sexily” at the shoot for her comeback single. Soon, the “central-casting evil music execs” who manage her are wondering how to respond to a photo that has leaked online, showing her with semen on her face. Then a club owner (played by the Canadian singer The Weeknd) turns up, brandishing cocaine. The series clearly aspires to be shocking, but its best hope is that it gets “so-bad-it’s-good” status. 

“The Idol” wants us to think that it’s a “dark, subversive send-up of how the music industry treats its vulnerable stars”, but it “revels in the same lubricious sleaze and uneasy power dynamics it claims to skewer”, said Dan Einav in the FT. Full of “excruciatingly clunky lines”, it offers its heroine virtually no personality. It is basically “soft porn diaphanously cloaked as a ‘provocative’ drama”. 

The way to get the most out of it is to “meet it on its own terms”, said Nick Hilton in The Independent. Of course it’s not remotely realistic, but in its horrific presentation of the frailty of the human form, “it comes close to some profound insight into our times”. Striking and sordid, you’ll want to jump straight into the shower after an hour in its “polluting company”. 

Where to watch: NOW