In The Idol, superstardom is not all it’s cracked up to be. The Max series—from creators Reza Fahim, Sam Levinson, and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye—centers around the troubled pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), who is gearing up for a major comeback after a very public breakdown following the death of her mother. Her manager, Chaim (Hank Azaria), and pushy label executive Jane (Nikki Katz) are pressuring the star to release a mainstream single, music video, and ensuing tour—but Jocelyn feels creatively stuck, as though her music doesn’t properly reflect who she is as an artist. Enter Tedros (Tesfaye), a mysterious club owner who meets Jocelyn on a fateful night out and wants to help her unleash her real voice. Cue the drama.
In episode two, which premiered last night, Jocelyn’s career revival is off to a rocky start. After the singer and Tedros remix her single to make it feel more “her,” Jocelyn floats the song to her team, who quickly shuts it down. The new sexy sound, heavy on the moaning, just isn’t commercial enough, apparently. Following a number of grueling dance rehearsals, Jocelyn is ushered to film her music video for the proposed bubblegum hit. It’s one of those cold Hollywood soundstages that has been fashioned into a strip-club set, with a giant neon “Jocelyn” sign hanging over it. “It’s not really what I imagined,” Jocelyn says apprehensively to her creative director, Xander (Troye Sivan). The message is clear: Jocelyn is stuck. The constricting fashions she wears in the episode only heighten the mood.