The Weeknd is an artist whose music has always translated into a highly cinematic visual style through his videos and visual albums, especially his later works like After Hours and his Superbowl halftime show. So, I was interested when it was announced that he would create, produce, write, and star in a series for HBO. I was slightly less interested in the involvement of Sam Levinson, creator of Euphoria and guy who generally thinks he’s more edgy than he is. But, I wanted to see what The Weeknd would do with proper narrative storytelling, and then Amy Seimetz was announced as the series director, and I was even more interested—she’s GREAT.
But then Seimetz dropped out AFTER completing several episodes, and The Weeknd’s series, The Idol, underwent some mid-production dramatics, including such a drastic creative sea change that they switched directors, several cast members, and reshot a lot of what had already been done. Sounds chaotic, and as I’ve said before, such upheaval is expensive and generally not a good sign. Also, trading out Amy Seimetz for Sam Levinson as the series director is a downgrade. Levinson THINKS he’s edgy, Seimetz actually IS. I would love to know the drama there, because there definitely is some. I’ve never heard a story of a woman being removed from a project and replaced with a man that wasn’t dramatic. Would love to be wrong even just once, but…
The trailer for The Idol dropped over the weekend, first at The Weeknd’s Saturday night show during his After Hours til Dawn Tour, and then online on Sunday. It looks like it’s trying to be in the vein of Nicolas Winding Refn, but The Neon Demon already exists. I still want to see what The Weeknd does with narrative storytelling, but this looks more in line with Sam Levinson’s “Suburbs are like, bad and stuff” level of deep thinking. Lily-Rose Depp plays a pop star, and I am not yet sold on her as an actress, so we’ll see if she can carry six hours of TV. The Weeknd is…a record producer? Her manager? A random? Unclear. But they’re doing naughty sexy things and this trailer wants us to know that The Idol comes from the SICK & TWISTED MINDS of Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye.
The Weeknd is an interesting artist, I will allow that. Minus Amy Seimetz, he is the only reason I will bother with The Idol. But Sam Levinson, as I’ve said repeatedly here, isn’t half as “sick” or “twisted” as he thinks he is. I like some of his work, but when Levinson’s “I’m so edgy” filmmaking works, it’s in spite of himself and usually down to excellent casting. Euphoria, for instance, would be utter dreck in the hands of a less talented cast. I hope Lily-Rose Depp ends up being 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.
Attached - The Weeknd performing in New Jersey on Saturday.