HBO's 'The Idol' Divides Cannes Audiences: '50 Shades of Tesfaye'

Note: This story contains spoilers from the The Idol” episode 1.

Weeks after “The Idol” scandalized the Cannes film festival as audiences witnessed the first two episodes of “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson’s new series, viewers around the world can finally experience the debauchery firsthand as the HBO series makes its debut.

Co-created and co-executive produced by Levinson, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and Reza Fahim, “The Idol” centers on pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), who attempts to reclaim the public’s attention after a nervous breakdown derailed her last tour. Jocelyn leans on Tedros (Tesfaye), a nightclub owner with a sordid past who leads her down a path of corruption.

Following its Cannes debut, reviews and comments poured in regarding the series’ scandalous moments filled with sexual content and nudity that many called outrageous. Several critics who screened the first two episodes called out the sex scenes as falling into male fantasies while leaving Depp’s character disempowered.

As expected from the creator of “Euphoria,” “The Idol” premiere did not fall short in terms of its shocking moments that kept us on the edge of our seats for the whole episode:

Chaim Locks an Intimacy Coordinator in the Bathroom for $5,000

The debut episode opens with a sultry photoshoot for Jocelyn’s new album cover, featuring a barely tied satin robe around the pop star. The set’s intimacy coordinator raises alarm bells when Jocelyn exposes her nipples de ella — which is against her nudity rider de ella. While the intimacy coordinator explains to Jocelyn’s team that the nudity rider must be followed to protect vulnerable parties, her team de ella mocks ella’s suggestion by quipping, “she looks quite vulnerable.” When the team learns that reversing the nudity rider would mean pausing the photoshoot and losing the day’s work, Jocelyn’s manager, Chaim, finds a new solution: locking the intimacy coordinator in the bathroom and offering a staffer $5,000 to make sure he stays in there.

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Jocelyn Wears a Hospital Bracelet for Her Comeback Album Cover

Referencing her recent nervous breakdown, Jocelyn dons a hospital bracelet for the photoshoot for her comeback album alongside bottles of tequila. While Xander (Troye Sivan) wonders if the bracelet might function to romanticize mental illness, record label executive Nikki (Jane Adams) assures him “mental illness is sexy,” explaining that mental illness is the only way for everyday consumers to imagine they might have a shot with the pop princess.

Jocelyn Is Compared To Simone Biles

While the HBO series owns up to its references to Britney Spears, this is one we couldn’t have expected. After explaining that Jocelyn’s team pushed her tour and refunded tickets amid her breakdown of ella, her team de ella likes her to Olympic gymnast and GOAT Simone Biles for prioritizing her mental health de ella to prepare for her next professional chapter.

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Jocelyn Chokes Herself While Pleasuring Herself

For many audiences members at Cannes, this was the moment that solidified the series’ scandalizing status. After briefly hooking up with Tedros at his nightclub and returning home alone, Jocelyn chokes herself hard while pleasuring herself, seeming to reference how Tedros grabbed her throat while they were kissing on the dance floor.

Jocelyn Says She Answers to God

While speaking to a Vanity Fair journalist working on a profile of the pop star, Jocelyn tells the reporter that “everyone answers to someone.” When asked who she answers to her, Jocelyn replies “God,” in a response that perplexes the journalist and the audience.

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Jocelyn Says She Likes that Tedros Has a Rape-y Vibe

After Jocelyn and Tedros’ brief rendezvous at the club, Jocelyn tells her assistant/best friend Leia that she wants to invite Tedros over to the house. Leia cringes slightly and tells Jocelyn she thinks Tedros has a “rape-y vibe,” to which Jocelyn responds that she kinda likes that.

Tedros Chokes Jocelyn with Fabric and Whips Out a Knife

As Jocelyn and Tedros are flirting, drinking and listening to her new song, Tedros tells her she is not singing her single like she “knows how to f—k,” and offers to help her out. Before she knows it, Tedros has covered Jocelyn’s face de ella with red fabric from her robe and tied the waistband around her neck, leading her facial features de ella to protrude from beneath the fabric. Tedros then whips out a knife and tells Jocelyn to open her mouth from under the fabric, making a sliver opening so she can breathe through her mouth. “Now you can sing,” he says before the episode ends.

“The Idol” episode 1 is now streaming on Max.

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