After drudging through five episodes of The Idol, it’s clear the show was bound for failure. We held out, hoping the show would right its ship. In fact, the first two episodes were imperfect but interesting experiments. For Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, there was something percolating on the outskirts of the series. However, The Idol ironically never found its voice. Meanwhile, HBO must be scratching its head. If The Idol cannot work, how do they take big swings in the future?
Simply put, The Idol spent too much time assembling an all-star cast and not enough time giving them anything to do. There’s no doubt that this cast was stunningly talented. When performers like Rachel Sennott, Troye Sivan, and Hank Azaria waste away, it becomes difficult to attract more talent. One could argue that Levinson made his play to become the next Ryan Murphy. However, even with Murphy’s inconsistency, the greatness of his best works is undeniable. Most importantly, Murphy’s ability to find and cultivate talent has made him an icon. If The Idol and Euphoria cannot keep talent happy and leave many performers cold to their ways, it’s simply not a winning formula.
The Frankenstein nature of The Idol might stem from Tesfaye’s unwillingness to compromise his vision. As someone who often defends The Weeknd as an artist, as recently as last year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. However, firing Amy Seimetz might have been the stake in the show’s heart. At the same time, The Weeknd’s art fits in the world and fanbase he’s developed for himself. It may not translate when crossing over into this medium, with sustained runtimes and forcing other characters to have emotions. Frankly, he may have already used his best concepts and ideas on his albums instead of on The Idol.
Wherever you come out on The Idol, it cannot be considered a true success. It may receive critical reevaluation down the road, but those counters rarely acknowledge the complete series. Frankly, no matter how good the first two episodes might have been, the last three are so abysmal we’re left questioning the point of it all. After five hours, it truly feels like a waste of time.