Lily-Rose Depp’s Jocelyn Deserved Better Than The Idol

Photo: Eddy Chen/HBO

Let’s be honest: The Idol is bad. How bad, you ask? So bad that rumors are swirling that HBO opted to end the Sam Levinson–created series an episode early. (This is not actually true.) Also, I don’t know a single member of my Euphoria-loving, bad-TV-obsessed peer group who managed to get past the first episode of The Idol—except me, that is, but that was for work.

There is one part of The Idol that I don’t detest, though, and that’s the performance Lily-Rose Depp gives as the pop star Jocelyn (single name, à la Cher), an outwardly perfect yet emotionally devastated young woman doing her best to revive her career after a public breakdown. Do I love the trauma-porn-y presentation of Jocelyn’s abuse at the hands of her recently dead mother or the equally disturbing sex scenes between Jocelyn and her controlling new flame, Tedros (Abel “The Weekend” Tesfaye)? Nope. But it’s Depp’s steely commitment that makes those scenes even remotely watchable, and I think she deserves acclaim for that.

As I made my way through The Idol’s first four episodes, I was struck by how much soul Depp brought to the character, even when the script called for her to, say, green-light the electrocution of Troye Sivan (real plotline, deeply unserious show). The word range also came to mind back in episode two, as Jocelyn tried over and over to film her new music video, through tears and bleeding feet and obvious wounds to her legs—a startling change of pace from her usual reticence. And I must admit that Jocelyn’s song “World Class Sinner/I’m A Freak” is a “Padam Padam”–level bop, which it might not have been in another actor’s hands. Depp plays it with the perfect mix of earnestness and camp (sample lyric: “Better have a bank account if you wanna see what I’m about”), making the song something I actually wanted to blast through my headphones while I worked out the other day. 

Does all this praise of Depp’s portrayal of Jocelyn mean that I want The Idol to last longer? The answer to that would be a resounding hell no—I am simply not a fan of Sam Levinson’s work, and no, it’s not because he’s too edgy or too boundary pushing. (I just think the man is bad at writing TV! And I still haven’t forgiven him for wasting Barbie Ferreira’s talent on Euphoria.) I do want to see what Depp does next, though, and I’ll be thinking semi-fondly of Jocelyn, one in a long line of female pop stars (fictional and real) who never quite got their due.

This article was originally published on Vogue.com

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