This year, I watched a play titled “Best Actor,” directed by my dear mentor Nazım Uğur Özüaydın and starring Barlas Kartal. The play narrates the story of an actor who devoted everything he had to achieve greatness. One line stands out as particularly impactful:
“After I die, let the world stand still.”
As someone who has always contemplated the consequences of fame and, since the age of 18, has chosen directing to be “immortal,” I find myself increasingly uneasy when fame is mentioned. Although it may seem an extreme example, we can adapt this sentiment to many individuals. Those who know me are aware that I often say Leonardo DiCaprio lacks the simple pleasures I possess. He can’t simply go to a cafe and enjoy a leisurely coffee when he’s bored. Yes, I may not have millions, but managing millions is a challenging task, whereas sitting in a cafe and having coffee is a simple pleasure. Unfortunately, world-famous personalities like him are deprived of these simple joys.
Fame is a rather dangerous thing. Regrettably, not everyone can bear its weight. I, perhaps, don’t understand this concept precisely because I am not famous. Fame can be a poison that tests and sometimes changes people’s characters, but worst of all, it fills the voids within them. Particularly, individuals who suddenly attain fame from poverty fill the gaps in their characters with the influence of attention and wealth, leading to embarrassing scenes at times. Some end up in hospitals, revealing all their perversions, while others become crude and uncultured. The consequences are numerous.
One of the things that fame brings is the environment. Unfortunately, this environment is not always well-intentioned. Your surroundings are filled with people who, on one hand, protect and support you, but on the other hand, profit from you. After a certain point, you find yourself detached from your personal creativity and immersed in a mass production session. Some individuals excel in this collective work, while others find themselves seeking solace in hospitals, medicated. Too much fame means being constantly in the spotlight. It implies an endless continuity and relentless collective effort. Figures like Lady Gaga or Beyonce manage to sustain this nonstop work life, but others, naturally, struggle to do so.
“The Idol” focuses on the insane process behind this nonstop collective effort. Yes, they have millions of eyes on them, living in grand mansions, with all sorts of resources, but at what cost? What are they sacrificing? In the series, we focus on Jocelyn, portrayed by Lily-Rose Depp, to delve into the process behind uber-celebrity status. Our main character mentally struggles with this never-ending collective work. However, she must continue it due to the financial needs of those around her and the constant demand for her name. The question of why this need exists is, in fact, the most ironic and absurd aspect of the series. I believe this is one of the most striking points of the show. Even if you are a world-renowned figure, you are burdened with the constant obligation to create because otherwise, you will be forgotten. Or rather, you are made to believe that you will be forgotten.
The artistic creation process is always a contentious issue. Some artists can finish a project in one sitting, while others create stories by delving into the depths of their hearts, focusing on lingering pain and memories. Everyone’s working style is different. The challenging and oppressive creative process has also consistently given rise to successful stories in cinema. Tedros, portrayed by The Weeknd, is one of these characters. Opting for an unconventional creation process, Tedros coerces those around him, sometimes physically pushing their boundaries, to draw stories from their pains and experiences. According to the series, he succeeds, but the ethics of his methods remain a subject of debate and one of the central themes that the series focuses on.
The saying, “The business world is full of jackals,” has always struck me as amusing. Wherever there are humans, be it in business, love, or social life, there is always deceit, ambition, and resentment. Most of us primarily consider our own interests and strive for personal gains. At times, we try to seize opportunities at the expense of leaving others behind and causing them distress. This struggle exists at all levels, from the lowest to the highest echelons. However, as one ascends and millions are at stake, predicting who will deceive who turns into a Sherlock Holmes tale. It’s not just about money; when fame is at stake, even the most accomplished detectives cannot decipher who will betray whom. The series also portrays this chaos. Everyone is scheming to steal from each other, find alternative ways to make money and snatch talents away from others.
In the series, I found Eli Roth’s portrayal of Andrew Finkelstein to be the most entertaining. His jokes that require familiarity with American culture and his realistic approach managed to make me laugh in every scene. Especially, the comparisons between Hunter Biden and Kanye-Hitler left me in fits of laughter.
Perhaps the most striking and somewhat ironic aspect of the series is that Lily-Ross Depp, who plays Jocelyn, is actually a real-life Jocelyn, moving in parallel with the character she portrays in the series. In the series, Jocelyn uses all her sensuality and exploits the secrets of her body to make herself noticed. However, since Lily-Ross Depp is the one playing this character, we can easily say that the two are the same person, and the beautiful actress is fully portraying this character to prove herself and gain fame. And she can be considered successful in doing so.
“The Idol” focuses on the lives of celebrities, who are known even in the remotest corners, living lives far beyond what most of us consider normal, and the battles they sacrifice to maintain their fame. I cannot say whether the series will greatly impact your life, but it can serve as a serious preview of the industry for you. If you think the series is exaggerated, I can confidently say that you are mistaken. Because those living in lavish mansions on the hilltops, indulging in pleasures you haven’t even heard of, sometimes live in excesses that may even surpass what’s depicted in television series. Of course, not everyone is like that; let’s make a note of that as well.
creators: Reza Fahim, Sam Levinson, The Weeknd
starring: Lily-Rose Depp, The Weeknd, Suzanna Son, Troye Sivan, Jane Adams, Moses Sumney, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Hank Azaria, Eli Roth
USA | 2023 | 5 EPISODES |