Sex, drugs and pop music: “The Idol” shook up the Cannes Film Festival, where the series was unveiled in world premiere. A provocative side totally assumed by the team of the series.

“We know that we are doing a series that is provocative. It has not escaped our notice”, its director and co-creator Sam Levison (“Euphoria”) said on Tuesday during a press conference, the day after the screening of the first two episodes.

Announced sulphurous, both for its content and for its tumultuous gestation, “The Idol”, which has a total of six episodes, quickly announces the color on the screen: scenes of nudity, intimate photo which becomes viral, explicit masturbations …

The general public will have to wait until early June to discover the story of Jocelyn alias “Joss” (Lily-Rose Depp), a popstar who is trying to return to the spotlight after a slump following the death of her mother.

Then comes Tedros (Abel Tesfaye, the singer The Weeknd on stage), a kind of guru met in the discotheque and drug user, who will upset his return to the heights.

If the first reviews underline their sometimes excessive character, it would however be exaggerated to reduce this series to its most daring scenes.

She also knows how to take an ironic look at her time, making fun of an “intimacy coordinator” who tries to reconcile the requirements of the singer’s image contract and her desire to dispose of her body, or denouncing the formatting of the music industry, which can impose a song on an artist on the pretext that it is a potential hit.

“When you’re famous, everyone lies to you”: Jocelyn, who has her doubts about the song supposed to propel her comeback, quickly finds herself caught in the web of control – both personal and artistic – that Tedros weaves around of her, despite the warnings of her closest friend and assistant.

More generally, the secondary roles are successful and often bring a touch of humor to the whole. References to different stars like Britney Spears or Kim Kardashian are also sometimes obvious.

“We’re not trying to tell the story of any particular popstar but rather the view that the world has of popstars and the view that this pressure puts on them. (…) It’s a very lonely life. Everyone tries to defend their interests, but fame corrupts a lot of people. It’s very easy to surround yourself with people who lie to you”, summarized Sam Levinson.

Asked about the character of Jocelyn, Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp, insisted that “her physical nudity reflects her emotional emptiness”.

Before making its way to Cannes, this HBO series (“The Last of Us”, “Game of Thrones”…) was the subject of several controversies.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the production in particular suffered numerous delays and rewrites. Upheavals caused, according to the article, by Sam Levinson, who took over the camera during the project.

Asked about it on Tuesday, he replied that he found it “sad that we say false things. It does not correspond at all to the experience I had during the filming”. This is not the first time that a series has been screened at Cannes. This was, for example, the case with “Irma Vep” by Olivier Assayas in 2022.

05/23/2023 18:40:51 –         Cannes (AFP) –         © 2023 AFP