In defense of Jocelyn. Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd have been sharing their thoughts about the backlash to The Idol, which premiered on HBO in June 2023.
The series — in which Depp plays troubled pop star Jocelyn — started making headlines more than one year before it premiered. In April 2022, director Amy Seimetz exited the project, reportedly after completing six episodes. At the time, Deadline reported that The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) felt the show was leaning too much into a “female perspective” with its focus on Jocelyn.
“The Idol’s creative team continues to build, refine and evolve their vision for the show and they have aligned on a new creative direction,” HBO told Variety in a statement at the time. “The production will be adjusting its cast and crew accordingly to best serve this new approach to the series.”
Nearly one year later, Rolling Stone published an exposé that described production on the series as a “s–tshow.” According to the article, the show was hastily rewritten to include more sex and nudity after Sam Levinson took the reins following Seimetz’s departure.
In response, The Weeknd tweeted a clip from the show in which Dan Levy‘s character suggests a Rolling Stone profile to Jocelyn. Before she can answer, the “Blinding Lights” singer’s character, Tedros, answers for her. “Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a little irrelevant?” he asks. In his caption for the clip, The Weeknd added, “@RollingStone did we upset you?”
HBO, meanwhile, denied the report, claiming that the initial version of the show “did not meet HBO standards,” so the network went back to the drawing board. “Throughout the process, the creative team has been committed to creating a safe, collaborative and mutually respectful working environment, and last year, the team made creative changes they felt were in the best interest of both the production and the cast and crew,” a rep for the network told Variety in a statement in March 2023.
After The Idol premiered in June 2023, debate about whether the show is misogynist continued online. One Vulture critic described the sex scenes as “like faint rape-fantasy porn,” while The Playlist called The Idol “crude, gross and sexist.”
Levinson, for his part, isn’t bothered by the criticism. “That’s what makes it exciting, that these discussions are fraught,” the Euphoria creator told The New York Times in June 2023. “I think running headfirst into that fire is what thrills us all.”
Depp has also expressed her admiration for the show as well as her fellow creators. In response to Rolling Stone‘s article about The Idol, the King actress declared Levinson “the best director” she’s ever worked with. “Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued,” she told E! News in a statement in March 2023. “Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every way — it matters to him, more than anything, not only what his actors think about the work, but how we feel performing it.”
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