The Idol’s Controversial Finale Has Been Absolutely Destroyed By Critics

Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd should probably look away now.
Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd in The Idol
Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd in The Idol

The Idol, one of the most talked-about TV shows of the year for all the wrong reasons, has finally drawn to a close – and critics haven’t held back in their one-star reviews of the finale.

Created by Euphoria producer Sam Levinson, The Idol – which you can watch on Now if “one of the worst programmes ever made” is your kind of thing – stars Lily-Rose Depp as pop singer Jocelyn.

She embarks on what fast becomes an abusive relationship with guru Tedros, played by real-life pop star Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, while attempting to get her career back on track.

The bewildering dynamics between the duo puzzled viewers from the very beginning, while the show’s OTT sex scenes, “tasteless” jokes and laissez-faire attitude to abuse contributed to some of the most brutual reviews of the year.

Fast-forward five weeks and the finale featured a “huge” twist, as it was revealed that Jocelyn – who viewers witnessed being abused on multiple occasions – was apparently the master manipulator all along.

Meanwhile, Tedros’ life crumbled following an exposé on his dodgy dealings, yet Jocelyn decided they should still be together.

After five episodes, The Idol has now aired its finale
After five episodes, The Idol has now aired its finale

If you’re thinking “this ending sounds implausible and ridiculous”, then don’t worry – critics unanimously agree with you. And if you thought reviews of The Idol’s debut episode were damning, just wait until you read these…

“It is not just that The Idol is one of the worst programmes ever made – it’s also possibly the most squandered opportunity ever. Giant budget aside, post-Britney Spears, Kesha and Amy Winehouse, it’s high time to satirise pop starlet tragedies [and The Idol] had more than enough talent to do so.

“Instead, we get the limp, glazed-over, chain-smoking nothingness of Lily-Rose Depp and a performance from Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye that should be tried at The Hague.”

“Rather than feel surprising or challenging, The Idol’s vision was so narrow that this last episode felt like one final ambivalent shrug of a storyline. In this regard, the series was more like Tedros than Levinson may have realised.

“It was all bluster to cover up how small it really was, leaving little impression beyond how desperately it tried to be something more.”

“Twists are one of the funnest tropes in TV and film. Nothing stirs our adrenaline like being pipped to the finish line when you thought you were ahead of the race. But twists are only satisfying when they line up.

“The Idol isn’t a tightly plotted thriller like The Usual Suspects or Shutter Island, or any of the erotic thrillers where there’s a great second watch to be found in knowing the ending. Instead, all you’ll find is gaping narrative holes and indifference in characters disguised as depth.”

Lily Rose-Depp on the set of The Idol
Lily Rose-Depp on the set of The Idol

“If only it had been more enjoyable. Let us pause actually a moment on Jocelyn’s extremely over-the-top and very literalised choreography, as she sells her new song after like-a-prayering in the yard outside. It’s gross! It’s like: ‘Oh, she found her power … by acting like she was going to blow an important music executive in her own mansion!’ Heinous and boring.”

“I’m left believing that what Levinson and Tesfaye thought they were creating was a messed up love story, in the style of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread. In that 2017 film, Anderson pulls off a switcheroo in which a demanding mentor is dominated by his adoring pupil. But over the course of that 130-minute movie we come to understand much more about the central couple than we do over five hours of The Idol.

“That is the greatest failing of The Idol: After all of this, I still don’t know what drives Jocelyn and Tedros. Music, I guess? But I have trouble believing even they care all that much.”

“Plenty of pop star fiction asks the audience to suspend its disbelief and accept that substandard songs are brilliant hits. (They can’t all be Shallow.)

“More grating is how The Idol uses its alternate reality to position Tedros’ school of thought as a breath of fresh air, infusing needed authenticity into a pop landscape starved for connection. Yet in passing off conventional wisdom as a challenge to the status quo, it’s The Idol that comes off artificial and out-of-touch.”

“Watching The Idol, it’s often unclear whether it’s satirical, sincere, or just lost altogether. The answer is that it’s all of those things and often simultaneously. And based on the finale, it seems clear that the show knows it.

“The episode, written by Levinson based on a story by Levinson and Tesfaye, puts in a lot of work to retroactively make the whole thing make sense. On more than one occasion it has background characters deliver extensive exposition as if this were the only episode produced.”

It's not yet known whether The Idol will return for a second season. But maybe it's safe to assume...
It's not yet known whether The Idol will return for a second season. But maybe it's safe to assume...

“Many of the questions evoked by episode one (and episode five, for that matter) are still unanswered in the finale — and not questions that should be left open. Who is Jocelyn? What does she care about? Is she meant to be a real person, or just emblematic of real-life pop stars?

“Telling us what she did isn’t the same thing as helping us to understand why she did it, just as The Idol closing its strict narrative plotline [...] isn’t the same as providing any sort of closure. Be it a season or series finale, this ending needs a reason to exist, and The Idol still has us guessing. ‘Jocelyn Forever’? Hardly. Please, just let it end.”

“The Idol falls into the basket of shows shooting for prestige TV but trip-falling into the middle-of-the-road category instead.

“As a result, we get episodes that look and sound like they should be good – because if The Idol is one thing, it is immaculately shot – but the end product is just a mesmerising mess.”

All five episodes of The Idol are available to stream on Now.

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