The Idol Creator Sam Levinson Discusses The First Episode – Deadline

SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details about HBO’s Sunday premiere The idol.

The idol is finally here. HBO has unveiled the first episode of the somewhat controversial series of Euphoria creator Sam Levinson on Sunday.

The first, titled “Pop Tarts & Rat Tails”, introduces audiences to Lily-Rose Depp’s Jocelyn, a global superstar who is set to make a comeback on tour after suffering a nervous breakdown. The episode opens with a close-up of Jocelyn’s face, as she receives instructions from a photographer giving her clues for specific emotions ranging from joy to vulnerability to upset.

“The first shot of the show, I think, tells you everything you need to know about Jocelyn, how good she is as a performer,” Levinson said in a segment about the making of the series, which aired after the episode. “She can laugh at the right time, cry at the right time. You see how good this character is at manipulating us emotionally. What’s so brilliant about Lily’s performance is that despite her telling you upfront, you forget how capable of fooling the audience she is.

The camera pans and we see that it’s part of a photo shoot for her new album. As Jocelyn lies on a table wearing nothing but a red silk backless dress (inspired by a photograph by Slim Aarons of Marilyn Monroe), the privacy coordinator rushes over to make sure she follows his nudity rider. She tries to explain that she’s perfectly comfortable showing more of her body, and an argument ensues – almost exclusively between the men in the room – over whether it’s appropriate for her to have her open dress in the photos.

As the episode progresses, it becomes clear how many people are making decisions for Jocelyn, often without her involvement at all. From her assistant at the music label to her plethora of publicists, Jocelyn is often the last to be told the details of her own life. When a journalist from vanity lounge asks her who she answers to, Jocelyn says, “God”. But, it is clear that she is not as free as she would like to imagine. Until she meets Tedros (Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd), a nightclub impresario with a sordid past.

“Jocelyn is a pop star who’s constantly surrounded by people she’s not sure she can trust,” Depp said in the same segment, adding that Tedros “gives her a freedom she hasn’t felt. for a while”.

Although Jocelyn feels an immediate connection to Tedros, her motives are unclear.

“When Tedros comes along, you can see how desperately he wants to be taken seriously. He wants to be suave…but there’s something about him that attracts Jocelyn as well,” Levinson added.

A preview of the rest of the series teases that Tedros will begin to have some power over Jocelyn, who will begin to push back against the team around her as she deepens her connection with him.

In the post-episode segment, Levinson said that shortly after production on Season 2 of Euphoria that he and Tesfaye started discussing the concept of The idol. Ultimately, he explained, the series is about “an artist who feels stuck, who also feels pressured by the expectations of the world at large, and tries to figure out who she is and what she wants. say”.

“The cinematic approach is actually derived from reality TV, because that’s how we normally see celebrities,” he said. “Part of the whole point of this show is to have a little more skepticism about the celebrities we ultimately idolize.”

The idol airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It’s also available on Max at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.

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