The Idol – Season 1 Episode 1 “Pop Tarts & Rat Tales” Recap and Review

Pop Tarts & Rat Tales

Episode 1 of The Idol introduces us to the world of Jocelyn, a young, ravishing pop star with a documented history of mental illness. Although the latter part of her identity is yet hidden from us, we will dive into her troubled past.

Jocelyn is shooting for her album cover for the release of her new single. A lot is going on at her house. Her entourage consists of Chaim (Hank Azaria), Leia (Rachel Sennot), Xander, Benjamin (Dan Levy), and Destiny. Their roles aren’t crystal clear at the moment, except for Leia, who is her “best friend and assistant.”

During the photo shoot, Daniel, an intimacy coordinator hired to protect Jocelyn’s interests, takes offence to the level of nudity. There is a nudity rider in the contract with the label and he is concerned. Chaim takes care of it and locks Daniel in the bathroom. But he has bigger fish to fry. A photo of Jocelyn with semen on her face has taken the internet by storm. It is literally everywhere but the entourage decides to keep it from her; for now.

Another happening event at her house is the video choreography of the song, where we meet Jocelyn’s friend, Dyanne. As if this was not enough, Andrew Finkelstein, the proprietor of Live Nation, an events promoter, shows up at the house. He is concerned that Jocelyn’s live concert hasn’t sold out and with this rescheduling (due to the semen controversy) chances are the sales will be worse the next time. Talia Hirsch, from Vanity Fair, has also arrived at the house to take an interview. Jocelyn is finally made aware of the photo and instead of having “another psychotic breakdown,” she brushes it off by saying, “It could have been worse.”

While interviewing her, Hirsch is impressed by Jocelyn’s resolve and courage. Even though she might be a train wreck on the inside, Jocelyn puts up a brave face. She goes clubbing at night with Dyanne. The owner of the club, Tedros (The Weekend), takes an interest in her. Jocelyn being a famous star attracts the crowd’s attention and we see Tedros dancing with Jocelyn. There is something unsettling and macabre going down behind the scenes as we see Tedros’ shady henchmen, Izaak and Mitch do some weird signalling. The former even offers himself to Leia to dance with, as she gets more concerned when she cannot find Jocelyn.

The star is taken to a quieter place by Tedros and they get intimate. But instead of manifesting the tension physically, Tedros and Jocelyn bond over pop culture. Among other things, Jocelyn confides in Leia about her insecurities. She is frightened of the new release of her single and is second-guessing its creative inspiration. Leia calms her down and assures her it will be a hit. The next night, Jocelyn invites Tedros to her house. He is sneaky, and shady, and definitely seems like the antagonist in the series. Jocelyn has dressed up provocatively but the two do not get physical.

They have this strange sexual tension between them throughout the encounter. Jocelyn takes him to her studio and plays the rough cut of her new single. He likes the song but says that Jocelyn does not have a “sexy voice” (it might have been something else) and proceeds to choke her with her own nightgown. She feels electric, titillated, and aroused.

The Episode Review

All the controversy about The Idol has manifested and whammed us right in the face in the season opener. Episode 1 has a life of itself and perhaps will not be shaping how the show turns out to be. It is an insightful peek into Sam Levinson’s sex-crazed, sensual cinematic world but there seems to be more than what meets the eye. The surface-level premise needs patience, generosity, and diligence to be worked out and moulded into a compelling narrative.

The upcoming episodes will decide The Idol’s fate. Lily-Rose Depp, for all the hype and hate, gives a rocking introduction to Jocelyn’s character. But as the Weekend’s quite horribly carved-out character Tedros says, she seems “too locked up inside her head.” Rose has gone in with preconceived ideas about Jocelyn’s world and how it channels her reality. It makes her look vain, facetious, and contrived, far from something original. While just basing our opinion of her around one episode is itself unfair, Rose has a hard task ahead of her.

The Idol is already reaching critical mass and I feel like the next episode will decide where the story goes.

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You can read our full season review of The Idol here

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