Over the course of its run, the general consensus for the five-episode nonprestige HBO series “The Idol” seems to be that it already overstayed its welcome. However, the unearned twist in the show’s ending felt like the visual equivalent of premature ejaculation.
We were served a classic 180-degree turn—gaslighting, absolving, and begging us to pity the abuser named Tedros because he was apparently “used” by the woman he was victimizing.
Sam Levinson and Abel Tesfaye’s soft porn series and vehicle for The Weeknd song releases ended with Jocelyn telling Tedros that he belongs to her forever. There’s a switch in power dynamics that’s meant to shock. But removing Jocelyn’s backstory, which was apparently much alluded to in Amy Seimetz’s female gaze version that was already 80 percent shot before it was overhauled in favor of a more Tedros-centric narrative, made it feel more like a hollow cheap trick.
amy seimetz’s version of the idol was going to include scenes that referenced jocelyn’s past as a child star.
one of the biggest flaws in sam levinson’s version was that jocelyn being a pop star never felt real or authentic so it would’ve been nice to see that fleshed out. pic.twitter.com/CsUinIWqmR
We’ve seen her get sexually, physically, and mentally abused by him all in the name of making “good” music. But now, we’re asked to believe that she orchestrated all of this to become a star. What drove her character to do that? Levinson and Tesfaye don’t seem all too concerned to give us answers.
And I don’t think we can just blame it on them being inexperienced screenwriters. They actively regurgitated a narrative often used by misogynists who’ve demonized and victim-blamed “sex symbols” like Marilyn Monroe or Pamela Anderson.
Netizens also noted how there were similarities between Jocelyn and child star-turned-pop-princesses like Britney Spears and Tesfaye’s ex Selena Gomez. More than disrespectful, it feels like a violation to make allusions when the show has been called a “rape fantasy” by a crew member.
Making Jocelyn a character who wanted to get, as Leia described it, sexually assaulted in public is a step further from the rhetoric of “She was asking for it” or “Ginusto niya naman.” It’s as if the pair created the show just to fulfill the gross sexual fantasy of dating and being violent to a “human cum sock” while denying accountability.
That twist essentially claims Tedros’ innocence by blaming the victim who was “pulling the strings all along.” As a woman, I’ve seen a lot of man-children get outed as serial sexual harassers. So trust me when I say this: This deflection via a purported level of “ignorance” isn’t novel.
Levinson used a similar gimmick for the Nate-Cassie narrative in “Euphoria.” Nate kept exploiting Cassie’s fear of Maddy finding out and her desire for male validation. He slut-shames her while using her just for sex, as Levinson partakes in the degradation with his excessively explicit direction. Nate doesn’t see her as a person, his fantasies of her only flip-flopping between sexpot or pregnant and docile. Yet, she was still painted as the villain of season two.
We’re tired of gratuity projects from men who don’t respect women. “By letting men write and direct these stories, they’ve been allowed to glorify female characters’ abusers and depict sexual trauma in gratuitous detail, then go ahead and call it ‘art,’” Nina Miyashita writes about the dangers of letting toxic men create unrealistic female characters on TV for Refinery 20. Plus, it simply makes for bad TV!