‘The Idol’ Viewers Have A Lot Of Thoughts About The Racy (Or Cringey?) Scene That Ended The Premiere

After HBO’s “softcore porn” series, The Idol, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, creator Sam Levinson defended his work from accusations of, well, ickiness. “I think we live in a very sexualized world,” he said, later adding, “There’s two things that happen when you have a character that has such a strong sense of self and such a strong sexual sense — you end up underestimating her because you’re not quite sure why she’s doing this, why she’s wearing this… And at the same time, it’s also what allures people, it’s what attracts an audience, it’s what attracts an imagination.”

The ratings for the premiere episode aren’t in yet, but if Levinson’s attention was to allure, he succeeded: The Idol packs more provocation into its first five minutes than most shows do in a season. That’s neither an insult or a compliment; it just is. An intimacy coordinator is locked in a closet for doing his job; one character instructs another to “stop trying to c*ck block America”; and photos of Jocelyn (Rose-Depp) with bodily fluids on her face leak online. But the most racy moment came (pun intended?) at the end of the episode.

Jocelyn invites Tedros (Abel Tesfaye), who she previously met at the nightclub he owns (RED FLAG), to her recording studio. “I don’t know, it feels like it’s too superficial or something,” Jocelyn says after playing her new song. He responds, “It’s good yeah. Just one minor note: if you’re gonna sing a song called ‘I’m a Freak,’ you should at least sing it like you know how to f*ck.” After sliding an ice cube down her leg, Tedros takes off her robe and puts it over her face. “You need to block out the world,” he instructs her while wrapping the robe belt around her neck. Jocelyn is struggling to breathe, until he takes out a knife and pokes a hole in the robe around her mouth. “Now you can sing.”

Two things. First off, Tedros is the villain of the show: he destroyed a perfectly good robe. Also, The Idol viewers have a lot of thoughts on this scene.