The Idol just gave us the worst sex scene in history

Seriously, has anyone involved in this show ever had sex?
The Idol just gave us the worst sex scene in history

In the last 10 minutes of The Idol's second episode, we watch Lily-Rose Depp's Jocelyn and Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye's Tedros fuck. Well, more specifically, we watch Jocelyn masturbate with a red scarf tied around her head while Tedros, fully clothed, crouches behind a chair and narrates the kind of gratuitously sexual dirty talk anyone who had access to an incognito window at age 14 will be familiar with.

“I want to grab you by the ass while I suffocate you with my cock” he says with all the enthusiasm of someone who just found out they have to work a double shift. While he stares, dead-eyed (although it's not clear if that's a specific acting choice) the camera lingers on Jocelyn performing his commands. She writhes on the bed almost nude, spreading her heeled legs and choking on her own fingers. We'd hesitate to say she pleasures herself throughout the experience, though she moans to a hastening rhythm that tells you she's supposed to be feeling something. Tedros emerges from his crouched perch, with all the energy and sexual enticement of Gollum scurrying for a fish, to unzip his trousers. The camera then pans away from the real mano a mano action in a moment of surprising demureness, asking us to leave the rest to the imagination. But if Tedros' verbalised fantasies are anything to go by, we're not missing out on much.

That's not what the show wants us to feel, though. We're supposed to believe Jocelyn, someone who was happily called the ‘human cum sock’ in the last episode, is about to have the most mind-altering sex of her entire life – the kind of sex that's going to make her throw her whole career away (dun dun dun!). Tedros is such a once-in-a-lifetime sexual behemoth that he's literally lust-blinding Jocelyn with brilliant lines like *checks notes* “make that throat wet for me”.

THE IDOL, set against the backdrop of the music industry, centers on a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult, who develops a complicated relationship with an up-and-coming pop idol.© 2022 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved.

It's hard to imagine anything as unsexy as what we're told to believe is the most radical, boundary-pushing TV sex ever. At the series' premiere in Cannes, Sam Levinson, who co-wrote the series with Tesfaye, said “Sometimes things that might be revolutionary are taken too far” in response to allegations of the show just being gratuitous male gaze torture porn. That he doesn't see the irony in that statement, given that the dialogue and choreography feel like they're plucked from the brain of a horned-up teenager who just found out they could google ‘boobs’ on Google images, is perhaps one of the biggest self-owns in history.

Everything about the sex in The Idol, especially its most provocative scene yet, is like your older brother's friend at school trying to impress you with how much he knows about fucking. It's essentially a $75 million dollar version of one of Jay's stories from The Inbetweeners ("Yeah, man, she got so horny thinking about me that she wanked with a glass of whiskey"). Its unrefined adolescent horniness is exacerbated by the fact we never actually see anyone have sex, instead always cutting right before the good stuff. It's all talk and no action, leaving the heavy lifting to its lead starlet who bears all the brunt of trying to titillate the audience while telling us that women like to be exploited, actually. That the episode's climactic scene (metaphorically speaking, of course, because no one comes in this show) ends post-coital with Depp topless and Tesfaye still buttoned-up to the neck, is all the proof that Levinson and Tesfaye are simply just 2 children in a trench coat. To them, sex is as follows: ‘A woman gets so turned on because a man exists, then something messy and weird happens in the middle (We won’t say what it is, but trust us, we've definitely had sex before) And then finally, when it's all over, she lets them know that was the best time she's ever had.'

Sex scene discourse has entered such a terminal loop on the internet by now. With every argument for why it's a necessary form of narrative worldbuilding, there's a rebuttal about how seeing two co-workers fake intimacy feels icky. In its best form, sex on screen offers us so much as a shorthand, from people falling in love or lust to a character showing vulnerability in moments only shared in private with another person. The Idol offers none of that, instead making sex a performance, and always one by women. It gives us no real explanation for why Jocelyn would want to go near Tedros, let alone be the personal ragdoll for his horndog monologues. It's male fantasy in its purest form, made by men who think they know how to tell complex stories because they can light a nipple artfully. If you wanted to go full conspiracy theory, you could make an argument that The Idol is aversion therapy by the big anti-sex scene mob, because nothing makes us want to perceive even the illusion of sex ever again less than watching The Weeknd, without even a shred of emotion, say “fucking stretch that tiny little pussy” in a vanity close-up.