I’m sure by now you’ve heard about or read about the reaction to The Idol in Cannes. Most critics are tearing it apart after getting a look at what was reported a few months ago in Rolling Stone – that the show is sleazy, has been described as “torture porn”, that it was chaos behind the scenes during production. I have now screened the first two episodes of the show, which premieres on HBO Max and on Crave in Canada on June 4th, because I was assigned to the junket earlier this week. We can do a deeper dive on the story when you’ve had a chance to see it so just a quick note now with my first impression. 


The intention with The Idol, presumably, is to expose the dark side of fame and our cultural obsession with young, female pop stars. The point here is that we are all complicit – the industry is complicit and the media is complicit and even the fans are complicit with what we expect from these young women, how we claim to want better for them but at the same time can’t stop wanting more from them. The problem with The Idol, at least in my opinion, is that it’s too obvious. The show is trying too obviously hard to make its point and also be the point. It wants to both moralise and self-destruct. It claims it wants to interrogate scandal but, really, it just wants to be the scandal, like an influencer who goes on social media to share that they’re struggling with mental health when, really, it’s just a good hair day and they want to show it off. 

What makes The Idol all the more disappointing is that the story doesn’t serve the performances. Because these actors are doing the most with material that doesn’t deserve them. Rachel Sennott, who plays Jocelyn’s best friend and assistant, is hilarious and grounded and a spark of great energy in every scene. Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Hank Azaria are solid in their roles as Jocelyn’s managers. And Jane Adams (!!!) kills it as a label executive, all of them possessively circling Jocelyn, protecting and exploiting her at the same time. Also Troye Sivan, acting in his first major television project alongside these veterans, totally holds his own. 


As for Lily-Rose Depp as Jocelyn? She’s GREAT. In her post about The Idol last summer after the first trailer was released, Sarah wrote that she was “not yet sold on her as an actress” but hoped that Lily-Rose would be “a Sydney Sweeney-level surprise because it looks like The Idol is going to need that caliber of acting to turn it into anything than other than a straight vanity project”. Well The Idol is a straight vanity project and Lily-Rose is a surprise. She’s perfect in the role, she is believable, she has a full range of emotion and can swing from sweet to cruel to confused to confident and take you all the places in between, while nailing the choreography and the singing. If nothing else, The Idol is a showcase of her ability, and she really is a gift to the material here because what we’re seeing in the story, at least so far, does not deserve her talent. She’s also surprisingly accessible in an interview. Like I was expecting to be given a whole list of instructions ahead of my time with her and there was nothing of the sort, and during our conversation she was thoughtful and open about celebrity and pop star pressure and the demands of fame and her voice, her speaking voice is low and rich and kinda mesmerising, and apparently she sang “Fever” for her audition and I’d love to hear it because it’s totally suited to the way she sounds. 


Anyway, I posted earlier about all the Chanel at Cannes on Brie Larson and Lily-Rose is also a Chanel girl and she wore Chanel on the carpet at the premiere but, with all due respect, my favourite Chanel girl on Team The Idol is an actual idol, BLACKPINK’s Jennie. The white lace dress with the black sheer shoulders for the premiere was breathtaking. And the shoes! With the bow!


For the afterparty Jennie changed into a crop vest over a velvet wrap skirt, SO GOOD.

And the black and white theme continued the next day for the photo call – a strapless black tea dress with white trim and her hair in a twist: 


What did all this mean for coverage? Jennie’s role in The Idol is small but as a representative for the show and as an ambassador for Chanel, she delivered…although some people were slow on the uptake. Western photographers didn’t pay as much attention to her at the premiere, there aren’t as many photos of her at Getty, for example, as there are of other people. By the next day though, at the photo call, the photographers were clamouring for more shots. You know why?