July 11, 2023
What’s more fascinating than good TV? EPICALLY BAD TV. Whether you’ve watched MAX’s The Idol or not, Kiki Andersen (Indecent podcast) is here to help Ashley break down all the reasons why the show was a monumental failure and discuss what makes a TV show taboo. Plus, Ashley dives into The Other Two’s scandal-ridden cancellation and how it seems like A-list showrunner Ryan Murphy isn’t standing in solidarity with his WGA colleagues.
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What We Watched:
And Just Like That
The Righteous Gemstones
The Other Two
And Just Like That
90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way
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S2E51 — The Idol Hate Watch & Taboo TV w/ Kiki Andersen
Ashley Ray [00:00:28] Welcome to TV, I Say with Ashley Ray–your go-to podcast for discovering what to watch on TV, getting behind the scenes insights from the people who make the shows you love, and, you know, for talking all the TV news. You might think it’s summer–the hiatus–writers are on strike. Don’t worry, there is still so much TV news happening. Lot of shows ending. And that’s why I’m so excited for you. This week is going to be such a fun episode because we’re going to do our weekly watchlist. We’re going to, you know, run down some TV news like usual. But I also really wanted to discuss the epic failure of Max–I guess it might have been HBO Max–now Max’s The Idol and why it was rejected by basically everyone. And who better to talk about such a taboo show than comedian Kiki Andersen, who is also the host of Indecent, a podcast about what’s considered unacceptable in today’s society. And I think we can all say The Idol is at the top of that list now. Kiki, welcome to TV Club.
Kiki Andersen [00:01:25] Ashley, thanks so much for having me. I’m so excited to talk about Idol.
Ashley Ray [00:01:29] Oh my goodness. I binged it for you for this episode. I was truly one of those people who was like, “I’m going to wait until it’s canceled so that I can do a pure hate watch and not drive up the numbers.” But instead, I just watched on an illegal stream so that I wouldn’t give Max the engagement. And I’m glad I did because I feel like I’m on the other side now.
Kiki Andersen [00:01:51] Ooh. Okay. I need to get on your level because I do feel a little bit guilty about watching it.
Ashley Ray [00:01:56] I don’t think you need to because there’s no way it’s getting renewed.
Kiki Andersen [00:02:01] The verdict is in.
Ashley Ray [00:02:02] Well, we’ll get into all of those details in the news that just came out before the fifth season aired. Max, you know, announced that actually it was only gonna be five episodes, even though most people thought there were six episodes. There’s a lot of chaos going on with The Idol. But before we get into that, I want to know, what are you watching this week? What’s on your watchlist?
Kiki Andersen [00:02:20] Well, Ashley, you know, I’m playing catch up with a lot of shows. And when I say catch up, I mean everything from the last like year to, like, the ’90s. I didn’t have cable, so I’ve got a lot.
Ashley Ray [00:02:33] We love that here. Okay, what have you been catching up on?
Kiki Andersen [00:02:35] Okay, I’m just starting The Sopranos.
Ashley Ray [00:02:38] Okay. Fair. I have actually never watched it, and it’s one of those blind spots people come on the show and they’re like, “You’ve never watched The Sopranos? You don’t know The Sopranos?” And I’m just like, “It’ll happen, okay? Someday I will date someone who will make me sit down and watch all of it.”
Kiki Andersen [00:02:53] Yeah. And I’m kind of struggling a little bit. Like, I know it’s a good show. I know why everybody loves it. But I also just, like, don’t have the attention span for such a long show that has so many scenes. Like, we’re in a different kind of digital age now.
Ashley Ray [00:03:08] Yeah, it’s a different era. I don’t really have time for, like, 22-episode seasons. There’s a lot of stuff. I’m just like, “It’s too long. It’s never happening for me.” Sorry. Lost? No. My brain isn’t shaped to watch TV that way anymore. Okay? It’s not 2008. I don’t even know when that show came out. But my brain is just like, “Too many episodes. I’m distracted.” I would rather go watch Hoarders for two hours then, like, try to watch Lost or The Sopranos.
Kiki Andersen [00:03:34] Yeah, something a little more low impact. Yesterday on the plane, I started watching Abbott Elementary, which is the perfect size. It’s 22 minutes, you know
Ashley Ray [00:03:42] Yes. And I mean, such a good show. We are so lucky that it has been renewed for a third season, even though the writers’ strike has it delayed. So, I’m telling everyone, “This is your chance. Catch up on all two seasons. By the time season three comes out, you’ll be ready to go.” It is such a funny, funny show. It’s going to sweep awards this year, I feel like. You know, I think the previous year Ted Lasso swept things–took over. Now I think it’s Abbott Elementary’s turn.
Kiki Andersen [00:04:09] Yeah, it’s so different. I mean, there’s been lots of mockumentaries done, but this is about such a weird niche subject that, like, they’re able to take things that would normally be, like, boring school subjects and make them fun and dramatic in a really quirky way.
Ashley Ray [00:04:24] Like, by the end of episodes, I’m cheering for these kindergartners to, like, get their egg drop right. This is not a show I thought I would ever really be interested in. Like, you know, teachers, okay. I mean, I support teachers–love them. But I never thought, like, a show could be this funny about teachers, you know?
Kiki Andersen [00:04:41] Yeah, seriously. The characters are so good.
Ashley Ray [00:04:43] It’s amazing. On my watchlist this week, I started watching Glamorous on Netflix. Not sure if you’re familiar with this show. Probably not. It’s basically like gay Emily in Paris. Like, they took the Emily in Paris template and went, “What if we made it a young gay man who wants to work in makeup in New York.” And then we also got Kim Cattrall. So, there’s, like, a Sex and the City vibe to it because she is basically just playing Samantha in the show. It’s like they basically were like, “We would love to just get Samantha, but now you run a makeup company, and you’re very mean.” And she’s like, “I got it. Okay. I’m going to do this.” And, okay, I hate-watched all of Emily in Paris. I don’t think it’s a good show, but it was entertaining. And finally, I, like, pulled myself away from the hate watch. I didn’t do the last season. I was like, “I’m going to love myself and only watch things I enjoy.” And then I found Glamorous. And it basically hits that same itch, but it’s actually good. It’s, like, very quirky and campy in a way where it’s aware of itself. You know, like, they say silly things. Most of the cast is LGBTQ, so they get away with saying things like, “I can’t believe I invited a twink top into my Christian home.” And it’s so funny, and I’m begging all my friends to watch it. And they’re just like, “This looks like a show for 17-year-olds.” And I’m just like, “Maybe it is, but it’s so good.”
Kiki Andersen [00:06:10] I’m sold. That sounds great. I feel like Emily in Paris was supposed to be a gay show.
Ashley Ray [00:06:15] Yeah, exactly. Exactly. There’s stuff in Emily in Paris where you can tell this was supposed to be, I think, a little quirkier than what it is. And Glamorous hits it. I love it. And also, obviously, I’m watching And Just Like That… on Max. Are you a big Sex and the City person? Are you doing the reboot?
Kiki Andersen [00:06:35] I’m not. I know eventually I’m going to have to join that conversation, but I just generally hate reboots. And so, like, it costs me to get invested into them.
Ashley Ray [00:06:47] Very, very fair. Did you watch the original?
Kiki Andersen [00:06:50] I did. I loved the original Sex and the City.
Ashley Ray [00:06:52] Original Sex and the City–amazing. The first season of the reboot–iffy. Okay, you’re watching it. And you’re mostly like, “I don’t understand what’s happening. But–okay–I’m watching.” This new season–they’ve fixed a lot of things, but I think the biggest thing that pulls people back in is suddenly Charlotte has become the kinkiest slut on the show. Like, I wish you had watched this most recent episode because the literal plot Charlotte has is that Harry, her husband, is not coming enough. Like, his loads aren’t big enough. And Charlotte is literally like, “I’m all about jizz. I’m a slut. It’s like the fireworks at the end of the 4th of July. Like, I’m all about the big hurrah.” They show her in the middle of sex, and she’s like, “Come on my tits, Harry.” And I am just like, “What is–? What? Charlotte, what?”
Kiki Andersen [00:07:47] Okay. But to Charlotte’s credit, she’s always kind of pushed the boundaries. Yeah, like, I know that Kim Cattrall’s character–she’s always been the more, like, sexually open one. But I do remember Charlotte being the first one to have, like, a vibrator on TV. That was very controversial.
Ashley Ray [00:08:03] Yes. Yes. And she was the one who dated that guy who was like, “I just like eating girls out.” And she was like, “Okay.” And everyone else is like, “That’s so gross and weird.”
Kiki Andersen [00:08:15] Relatable in the sense that, like, most of us aren’t Samanthas. Like, we don’t just go through the world being like, “Oh, fuck me in the ass.” That’s not most of us.
Ashley Ray [00:08:21] Yeah, most of us are like, “I love when my husband gives me a pearl necklace just in the privacy of my own home.” I just feel like… I don’t know. I’m a stand-up comic. I have a joke in my set I’ve been doing for years now that is a joke about how swallowing come has made me stupid. And I’ve done that joke. I’ve had people come up to me after, and they’re like, “I can’t believe you said that. I can’t believe you admitted to, like, swallowing. That’s so taboo. How could you talk about that?” And then to see Charlotte on Sex and the City being like, “I need my man to shoot ropes?” I was just like, “Okay, I guess it’s not taboo anymore. I guess we talk about this now.”
Kiki Andersen [00:09:05] Come is really having a moment in TV. I mean, it’s in The Idol.
Ashley Ray [00:09:10] Oh, gosh, it is so, so in The Idol. I really just want to get into The Idol, so, you know, quick watchlist. Righteous Gemstones people, are you watching it? The new season is here. If you’re not, you need to be. Do you watch Righteous Gemstones?
Kiki Andersen [00:09:24] No, but the guy I’m seeing is really into it. So, I think I think I’m going to have to get invested.
Ashley Ray [00:09:29] Yeah. Righteous Gemstones is kind of like I Think You Should Leave where it’s very big boyfriend TV. I feel like everyone I know is like, “my boyfriend loves Danny McBride–got me into it–and it’s very funny.” Edi Patterson is my favorite part of it right now. She also pulled double duty. She does voice acting in Ten Year Old Tom, which also just came out. And to me, those two shows are the funniest shows that came out in July? In late June, July? I don’t even know where we are timewise now. But they just came out, and they are so good. I love Ten Year Old Tom. I gotta put that on the watchlist, too. I’m shocked Max just is really, truly all I’m watching right now. I’m just watching And Just Like That and all these Max shows. Anything else on your watchlist?
Kiki Andersen [00:10:18] Well, I’m also catching up on Barry. I’m telling you, I’m super behind on TV. Like, I love TV, but I’m always late to the conversation.
Ashley Ray [00:10:25] Oh, yeah. I mean, Barry–the last season… Obviously, the final season–not going to spoil anything for you–but it is one of my top three finales. Like, I thought Succession did a really good job ending. And Barry–brilliant. I loved it. I know it’s a little controversial–the ending. Some people didn’t love the device used that I’m not going to spoil for you. But there’s sort of a, you know, narrative device used in the last season that was a controversial choice to people. And I absolutely was obsessed with it–loved it. So, I, again, hope Barry sweeps the awards, but I feel like they’re going to get overshadowed by Ted Lasso.
Kiki Andersen [00:11:06] Okay. I can’t get behind people that like Ted Lasso. I’m sorry. That show is too cringe to me. No.
Ashley Ray [00:11:13] I get it. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I mean, I’m a big Ted Lasso fan.
Kiki Andersen [00:11:20] I’m so sorry.
Ashley Ray [00:11:20] No, no, because, like, I’m with you still. Like, I was obsessed with the first season of that show. Loved it, like, got everyone to watch it, was convincing people like, “This is what you need at the height of quarantine. Like, we’re all alone. You hate the world. Trust me, this show is so funny and good.” And the first season is this brilliant sitcom that, yes, can be a little cringey, but is mostly like, “Oh, the beauty of humanity coming together.” And it’s great. And then the second season–it was like, “Okay, I don’t think they really know what they want to do with this show. Is this just going to be like a Disney adult show about nice people in England?” And they were like, “Yeah, that’s the show we want to make.” And the third season, they extended the episodes from 30 minutes to an hour. So, an hour episode of Ted Lasso was completely unnecessary. The extra time was just used to, like, show someone slowly playing a violin or, like, with all these, like, emotional montages that just take the place of actual storytelling. And that’s when I was like, “You know what? Maybe it’s because I’m out of quarantine. I’m seeing the world clearly. I don’t need this anymore.” I don’t need this, like, nice, cheery stuff, okay? Like, I’m over here with Shiv and Kendall yelling the C-word and, like, being a horrible person again. Like, we don’t need Ted Lasso anymore.
Kiki Andersen [00:12:45] Yeah. I like TV where you root for, like, the wrong people because we don’t get to do that in real life.
Ashley Ray [00:12:50] Yeah, exactly. You get to root for the evil people and go like, “I do hope that, like, Shiv takes over the whole company and ruins it, even if she’s, like, not even good at business.” But that’s part of the joy of these types of shows. And, you know, we’re not in that period anymore. I think a lot of it was the election and what’s going to happen. And now it’s like, “Okay, we can go back to having evil people on TV. We don’t have to pretend like we’re fighting against Donald Trump by making nice television.” And mostly that has been successful. Then I think we have a recent example of a show where it isn’t. And that show is The Idol, which we will talk about when we come back from this break. Certainly, The Idol is a show that asks you to root for people who are clearly evil and focused on greed and money and their own wealth. But it’s not successful.
Kiki Andersen [00:13:54] No, there’s no redeeming qualities to anybody.
Ashley Ray [00:13:57] To anyone. Kiki, what did you think? Please. Please.
Kiki Andersen [00:14:03] You know, like, I didn’t go into it as a hater. I knew that they had a lot of bad press around it and watching it, I was like, “No, I want to like the show. I’m going in with that mentality.” But I feel like it had all the right ingredients, but it was like watching an improv scene where nobody’s “Yes, anding.” Like, it was just too many storylines that just went nowhere.
Ashley Ray [00:14:27] Just too many storylines that go nowhere. There was the seed of a good show in this show. And they got distracted from that by being like, “Oh, wait, we can film the Weeknd, like, choking her? Let’s just do that instead. And it was like, “Oh, no, you should make them fully realized characters. You should make us believe.” Like, at no point did I ever believe Jocelyn truly loved him because the Weeknd cannot act. Like, a lot has been said about how he’s supposed to play a, like, skeevy bar owner deejay, who isn’t supposed to be cool, which I think comes across. I mean, the first time she meets him, the first thing she says is, like, “I’ve never fucked anyone with a rat tail before.” And she’s making fun of him and his rat tail. And he’s like, “What? A what? What is that? I don’t even– What?” Like, he hasn’t no idea that she’s just making fun of him and definitely understands that he’s, like, lower than her, but she sees the inspiration. She can, like, work through her own pain. To me, it was immediately clear, like, right away that she’s using him for most of it, which is supposed to be the big twist in the show. I’m sorry. I know I say no spoilers here on TV Club, but I don’t think I can spoil The Idol for you because you’re probably not going to watch it.
Kiki Andersen [00:15:52] Yeah. And by now, Twitter has totally revealed what happens. And all of us don’t really understand what happened.
Ashley Ray [00:15:59] It makes no sense. So, the big twist is, like, you know, you’re supposed to believe throughout the whole show that she has been brainwashed by this guy–that she’s under his control. And that is mostly sold through Rachel Sennott’s character, who is stellar. Honestly, I was like, “Give me her journey. She’s losing a friend. Like, I need more of her.” But she’s the main person who’s like, “No. Jocelyn has been taken advantage of. People need to pay attention.” But it also seems like she really is the most removed from who the true Jocelyn is. So then in the final episode, there’s this big twist where suddenly Jocelyn is like, “Tedros, fuck off. I don’t need you–never did. I’m amazing. I’m done with you. Leave.” Kicks him out of her life like, has her team destroy him with a Vanity Fair article that’s basically like, “he’s a pimp and an abuser. He’s bad.” He disappears, she, like, has taken his team, she’s making everyone famous, her new songs are hits, she’s at the top of the world, she sells out her tour, and then she decides to bring Tedros on stage to tell everyone he’s the love of her life, even though she had her team put out a whole article that was like, “he’s an abuser and a pimp who went to jail.” And then her fans are just like, “Woo! That’s great. You’re dating this guy.”
Kiki Andersen [00:17:32] The fans in the show are morons. Like, I don’t understand who these fans are.
Ashley Ray [00:17:36] I don’t understand who these fans are that they’re like, “Oh, so many teen girls look up to you.” Like, your fans are all these teen girls, and then the teen girls are like, “Woo! You’re dating a guy who just got taken down in Vanity Fair.” And it makes no sense why she brings him back into the fold. Like, her team is like, “Why did you have us go through all of that–kicking him out of your life and offering him all this money–if you actually liked him? There was no reason to go through any of the “Tedros, I’m done with you.” You literally could have just been like, “Yeah, I like you, but I’m going to take control of this tour.” It made no sense.
Kiki Andersen [00:18:17] Yeah. Because I know there was so much controversy around the show, I wonder if there are parts of the story missing. It was supposed to have six episodes, and then they cut it down to five.
Ashley Ray [00:18:27] So this is another bit of the Idol controversy. So originally when HBO ordered this show, they ordered six episodes. And that was when it was supposed to be directed and shot by Amy Seimetz. But she was the original, like, showrunner and director who was, like, supposed to make this show with Sam Levinson. And then halfway through–she, like, shot most of it, I think she had one episode left–Sam Levinson was like, “You are making this too female focused. I don’t like it. I’m stepping in. And I only need to do it in five episodes”
Kiki Andersen [00:19:03] How ironic. A female focused show about a female icon. What?
Ashley Ray [00:19:06] Right? And a big part of the show–they allude to this relationship she had to her mother. And then it’s like we never really see it. It’s very complicated as to whether it even happened by the end because she kind of smiles like maybe it was all a lie. And I absolutely believe the Amy version of this show goes into that relationship with the mother and how it, like, created Jocelyn and who she is. Apparently that version was going to go into Jocelyn as a, like, child star and, like, how she was a teen pop idol and how that’s like a big part of this new direction to become sexual. And all of that is gone in the Sam Levinson stuff. Like, that all just went in the trash. And I think that’s why he was like, “I can do the show in five episodes. If we just cut out everything that makes this female character have depth, you can do this thing in five episodes.” So according to that, HBO then changed the episode order to five. They at every point had only paid the cast out on five episodes. So, some people are saying that’s not a late shift. It’s not that HBO is like, “It’s so bad, we’re going to end it early.” But Sam Levinson was like, “I am so bad at making TV that I have cut this story down to five episodes.”
Kiki Andersen [00:20:27] Yeah, well, they also… I don’t know if these are legit pictures–I think they are–the ones that came out this morning of the other version where she kind of looks like Britney Spears. That story makes total sense, right? Then you understand why people were rooting for her in the beginning and why she was an idol.
Ashley Ray [00:20:43] Yeah, why she was an idol. Basically, most of the current version is people telling you she’s so good and so amazing. We never see it. Like, there’s never a part in the show where I am convinced of anyone’s talent. It is a lot of people, like, slithering on the floor and then some exec going, “This is the hottest thing I’ve ever seen. Viewers at home, please know we all think this is very hot,” because watching it, you’re like, “Oh, I hate this.”
Kiki Andersen [00:21:12] Yeah. I will say I haven’t stopped singing I’m a Freak. But the version that she tries to market where she’s literally just having an orgasm into the mic, I’m like, “This is supposed to be good?”
Ashley Ray [00:21:25] And so Tedros has what is believed to be a cult of young stars that he brings to sleep at his club. It’s clear he pimped some of them out. He uses them. And Jocelyn, like, brings these people in and basically, like, appears at first to be one of them. She’s like, “Oh, I believe Tedros, like you guys.” And then in the big twist, she’s like, “These aren’t your people anymore, Tedros. These are my people now,” which I was like, “I mean, that seems fair. You’ve been letting them live at your house.
Kiki Andersen [00:22:00] That plays.
Ashley Ray [00:22:01] But they’re supposed to apparently be the most talented trio of people in the world. Like, they sing one song, and all these execs are just like, “They’re not signed? Oh my God.”
Kiki Andersen [00:22:16] They’ve never heard music before, ever.
Ashley Ray [00:22:18] It’s truly a girl doing, like, a Billie Eilish impression, and they’re just like, “This is the wildest thing I’ve ever heard. She’s so talented.” Like, it’s a guy doing, like, a bad Frank Ocean impression, and they’re just like, “We’ve never heard anything like this. He’s basically Prince. He is Prince.” And you’re just watching, like, “That guy. The one I’m hearing and seeing?”
Kiki Andersen [00:22:40] Well, he has a good voice. I mean, they are talented. But then also Jocelyn’s, like, manager friend–whatever–teaches the girl how to sing. I’m like, “Weren’t you just a manager? Who are you?”
Ashley Ray [00:22:54] Oh, yes. That was so unclear to me, where they were like, “Is she a manager? Is she a label person? Is she just, like, PR?” I don’t even know. But I guess she helps people sing because she does it with that girl. And this is another story that goes nowhere. There’s this big kind of battle between the manager, I guess, who wants to take all of these three new talented people and then the label, where they’re like, “We want to get Tedros so we can get all the upcoming talent.” And it’s like, “Oh, is this going to be a moment of conflict where they have to, like, fight the label to keep this talent? Where is this going to go?” Don’t worry, it doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. You might wonder, “Oh, why is that little Chloe girl staring at Tedros and Jocelyn fucking so much? Is she jealous? Is she, like, going to go crazy?” No, it’s nothing.
Kiki Andersen [00:23:50] It’s nothing. It’s nothing. There’s all these, like, little red herrings. And Jocelyn’s childhood friend, Xander. Like, what happened there? Like, what was the relationship? Is he bad? Is he good?
Ashley Ray [00:24:02] And why did he go with Tedros? Like, it seems like at first, he genuinely realizes, “Oh, this Tedros guy is ridiculous. I should just, like, stay true to Jocelyn.” And then Tedros tortures him on Jocelyn’s behalf, and then he’s like, “Okay, you know what? I’m going to just do what Tedros says, except not.” It made no sense, really.
Kiki Andersen [00:24:27] Yeah, I guess the point they were trying to make is at the end, all anybody wants is fortune and fame. Like, that makes sense to me. But it was just so poorly executed. And also, if Jocelyn is supposed to be this, like, bad girl–but these people are more talented than her–but she’s not, like, Christina Aguilera bad girl.
Ashley Ray [00:24:46] No. Yeah. She really isn’t a bad… Like, the worst thing, you know, is, like, the photo comes out of her with come on her face. See? Come. It’s having a moment. It’s having a moment. She should have embraced her inner Charlotte and just been proud about it. But that’s the thing that makes her a bad girl is that apparently this ex leaked a photo. And then I guess this is one of the kind of theories or complaints fans have had about the show that seems unclear. The photo is leaked of Jocelyn. It has the come on it. It’s believed by most people that the person who has leaked it is her ex, Rob, who is this actor she dated. Episode Four–Rob comes back into the picture. They, like, hook up. And then Tedros has the friend Xander pose this girl with him to make it look like they’re on top of each other and have a picture. And then later that picture is leaked. And the girl in it is like, “He sexually assaulted me.” And we all know it’s a lie because he had just, like, you know, been with Jocelyn and leaves. So, people are like, “Okay, did Tedros and Xander plant the story without Jocelyn knowing, or did Jocelyn tell them to do that as payback for, like, leaking her photo, so that makes her this brilliant mastermind at the end of the day, who, like, took this guy out?” And I could believe that if we’re supposed to believe, like, this big twist of, like, she’s always in control. But then why is she, like, sobbing? And why is she like, “I can’t believe you did that to Rob”? And she’s like, “But that’s not true.” But then even Xander is like, “You think she doesn’t know?” So, you never really have any idea, at the end of the day, where Jocelyn stands–what you can believe from her mouth. She just is so lacking in depth and character that you’re just like, “Okay. She’s just pretty.”
Kiki Andersen [00:26:45] Yeah. I mean, I would venture to guess that she leaked the come photo. But also, like, why did we have to see the come photo?
Ashley Ray [00:26:51] Right? A lot of the sex scenes and stuff–I was just like, “Really?” And this is one of the clips that has gone viral on Twitter–the Weeknd fingering her while she’s singing, and all the studio people are in the room just like “Uh… Can we not do this?”
Kiki Andersen [00:27:11] I feel like just being on that set must have been so uncomfortable filming those scenes. Yeah.
Ashley Ray [00:27:15] And then you have, like, Da’Vine Joy’s character–the manager, whoever she is–who’s just like, “Well, you know what? She does sound really good singing while she’s getting fingered.” Like, this is genius. And you’re just like, “Really? Really? I’m supposed to believe that that moaning was the hit of the summer? Like, come on. The show is lying to me.”
Kiki Andersen [00:27:37] Right. I don’t know who the winner is supposed to be in the show. Like, you know, Succession ends with no winners, but at least it was entertaining.
Ashley Ray [00:27:47] Exactly. Like, they’re all evil. No winners. Love it. And at the end of The Idol, I mean, there are no winners, except I guess all the evil studio people did make a ton of money like they wanted, which is another part where it seems like they’re the bad guys and, like, we’re going to see Jocelyn go up against them and make her own way. And then at the end she’s like, “Oh. No, I’m just literally going to make them a ton of money, too, and it’s fine.”
Kiki Andersen [00:28:12] Yeah. Like, everyone wins. Everything’s fine. The only loser is the audience because we had to watch.
Ashley Ray [00:28:18] Because we had to watch that. I mean, obviously the show is trying to play up what is unacceptable–what is taboo. It wanted to be–like Sam Levinson said at whatever festival they showed this–he was like, “We’re going to be the hit of the summer. We’re causing all this controversy.” Why do you think it failed so hard? I mean, it throws literally every controversy at the wall, and everybody just shrugged.
Kiki Andersen [00:28:45] Yeah, because I don’t think that, like, controversy is… It’s not controversial to enjoy sex. Like, that’s not controversial. And yeah, in the show we see a lot of people enjoying sex. But what is that supposed to say? Like, yes, she uses him to abuse her on purpose because she has some weird kink about being the victim, but she’s actually the manipulator. But, like, it’s not very well executed, so we don’t really know when she’s manipulated and when she’s not.
Ashley Ray [00:29:16] Yeah, I think that is the biggest issue is that if you want this to work as this taboo piece of, you know, challenging female empowerment, you have to actually empower the female in the story. And at no point does it feel like Jocelyn is really in control of things. Even when we see her managing her music and being in control of her music video, it all seems like it stems more from mania and a need to be, like, loved in dealing with the loss of her mother than, like, you know, a desire to secretly manipulate Tedros. Oh, she manipulated him so she could heal from her mom dying? Like, it’s so confused about what it wants to say that it can’t even be offensive. It just ends up being a total milquetoast middle of the road. Like, okay, this was pretty.
Kiki Andersen [00:30:11] Yeah. Is the story supposed to be that we’re supposed to feel bad for these people or that we’re supposed to be frightened? I don’t know.
Ashley Ray [00:30:19] Yeah. And I don’t know–I feel like it is just such a failure of taboo television, I guess. It’s trying so hard to be taboo. Absolutely failed. And I feel like there are shows that have gotten it right. My producers, who are amazing, sent me some examples of taboo TV shows that also failed but I think we’re at least better than The Idol. Did you ever watch Skins?
Kiki Andersen [00:30:47] I did. I watched the British version. Yeah.
Ashley Ray [00:30:49] Okay. Yes, the British version? Amazing. Absolutely same. Love the British version. Do you remember in 2011, MTV tried to remake Skins for American audiences?
Kiki Andersen [00:31:01] Yes, I do remember that.
Ashley Ray [00:31:02] Yes. And they basically tried to–word for word–recreate the British version to the point where the American kids had British accents. It made no sense. It was like, “These kids live in Maryland. Why are they using British slang? Oh, because you just truly took the script.” They moved it. You know, a lot of the actors they hired were actually under 18. And if you watch the British skins, you know, it is racy. It is taboo. It is like these kids are snorting coke in math class. And they tried to do that with the American version. It bombed. Like, there’s all this outcry from the Parents Television Council. But even fans of the show–of Skins, the original–watched the MTV version and were like, “This is not good. It’s cleaner. It isn’t as taboo. It’s trying too hard.” There’s just this, like, divide. What do you think it is with American audiences and the way that, like, we respond to taboo? For us, it feels like if it isn’t done in the perfect way, we’re just going to be like, “That is so cringe. Ew.”
Kiki Andersen [00:32:09] Well, I think anytime you’re showing anything provocative, you really have to be clear on what you’re saying. And I don’t think Sam Levinson and the Weeknd are. Like, I was actually just thinking about in The Handmaid’s Tale… Have you seen The Handmaid’s Tale?
Ashley Ray [00:32:22] Oh, yeah.
Kiki Andersen [00:32:24] People use it too much as a metaphor for real life, but there are some scenes that were so jarring that I can’t stop thinking about them. The scene where the woman holds her down while she gets raped is such a poignant, scary scene to watch and such a metaphor for women that, like, uphold the crazy right wing, you know? So that is a scene that I think people needed to see. People didn’t need to see Lily-Rose Depp getting fingered in the back of a convertible. What did that do for any of us?
Ashley Ray [00:32:54] Yeah, we didn’t need to see her getting eaten out in the back of a car. The most groanworthy moment for me is the last scene of the pilot, when Tedros, like, puts the stocking cap over her face–or the scarf–and he, like, chokes her. And then he, like, takes the knife, and he’s like, “Don’t be scared.” And then he cuts a little slit over her mouth. And then he’s like, “Now you can sing.” And it cuts to the credits. I groaned. Like, you can tell they thought like, “Oh, wow. That is so deep. He’s cutting a hole in her mask. Aw, now, she can sing.” And I just was at home going, “Oh my God, are you for real right now?” And how much of that do you think is the Weeknd’s inability to act?
Kiki Andersen [00:33:38] I will give The Weeknd credit in the sense that when he goes all in on an endeavor, he really does go all in. He did the same thing with the Super Bowl. He invested his own money. But it was also a flop. I think he doesn’t know how to hire the right consultants and right people that set up the proper boundaries for him.
Ashley Ray [00:33:55] Yeah. I feel like he needed someone to be like, “Babe, you need an acting instructor. I know you feel like you could just do this.” But he needed an acting instructor. There’s so many moments that I was just like, “Are you for real? That’s your acting right now? Okay.” Like, especially the scene where they’re, like, torturing Xander and he has the electrical shock collar on him. The Weeknd did not have the emotional depth to pull that off. I’m so sorry. He did not.
Kiki Andersen [00:34:28] I feel like I could have gotten past the Weeknd’s mediocre acting if the show was good because we don’t expect him to be the best actor, right? Like, we didn’t expect Mariah Carey to be the best actress, but we enjoy watching her.
Ashley Ray [00:34:41] But we enjoy watching it. And, you know, Abel did his best. I do want to know how you feel about the carte blanche controversy. So, there is a scene where the Weeknd’s character, Tedros, says to another character, “Imagine you have cartay blanchay.” That’s not how you say that. It is not “cartay blanchay.” And people are in debate over whether this is a character choice. Like, Tedros is an idiot who doesn’t know any better and would say it that way–or is it that the Weeknd just didn’t know what he was doing and said it that way, and they were like, “This is the best take we’re going to get. Let’s just use it and keep moving.” And honestly, the fact that you can’t tell and don’t know is one of the issues with the show. It’s just as likely that it’s like, “Oh, this is a character choice for Tedros,” or it’s, “Oh, the Weeknd doesn’t know what he’s doing and was just like, ‘We’re moving on. Next scene.’”
Kiki Andersen [00:35:40] Yeah. I mean, I have to hope–I have to believe–that it was a character choice. I have to believe the Weeknd is smarter than that, but it’s just a poorly executed joke.
Ashley Ray [00:35:49] I want to believe. Yeah. And the other character doesn’t respond in a way that’s like, “Uh…” Instead, he’s like, “Oh, yeah, if I could do anything, I would take the picture with her with the come on her face and make that the album cover.” And that’s supposed to be, like, the big, “oh, he’s a genius. What an idea!” Come on. You’re not Charlotte from Sex and the City, okay? You’re not about that life. Please.
Kiki Andersen [00:36:18] Yeah. Yeah. I really don’t understand Xander’s… What’s his goal? I mean, obviously, in the end, he’s really happy that he becomes part of this family and becomes rich and famous. But I don’t understand what his role is before that moment. Like, what does he want?
Ashley Ray [00:36:33] What does he want? Why does he stick around with her? Is it just, like, love? Like, you know, what is true of what he witnessed about this abuse? And the fact that, you know, he was like, “She told me never to tell,” and then he’s like, “It never happened…” His character was the most, like, “why are they there?” to me. This just seems like something Jocelyn would be like, “Get out. Why would I try to make you famous, too?” And then at the end, when he is like, “Oh, actually, I want to sing again.” That was the part that made me laugh–when they are doing the big showcase for all the music execs, the other three people go, and then Xander’s like, “Well, I mean, if everyone’s here, I may as well sing a song, too.” And he just, like, gets up and starts singing.
Kiki Andersen [00:37:17] Well, and also, in what world do any of those songs belong together? He’s singing about Hari Krishna.
Ashley Ray [00:37:26] And the one before that is just like, “All I want is to never have to make choices because I’m a slave to the person I love.”
Kiki Andersen [00:37:36] And then Jocelyn does her number. And that weird executive guy is like, “Yeah, I’m like your parent figure.”
Ashley Ray [00:37:42] Yeah, “As a parental figure, I really love this song where you’re on your knees saying, ‘Daddy, is it good?’ Like, Wow.
Kiki Andersen [00:37:49] “And I need to go change my pants.”
Ashley Ray [00:37:51] Yeah, and like, “Daddy, use me however you want.” And he’s just like, “Yes, as a parental figure, this is perfect.” And then they’re just like, “Yes, the four of you tour together. Billie Eilish, fake Frank Ocean. Fake…” I don’t even know what Xander is supposed to be a stand-in for.
Kiki Andersen [00:38:09] He’s supposed to be Justin Bieber maybe. I don’t know.
Ashley Ray [00:38:13] Maybe like a Zayn One Direction type–maybe something like that. I don’t know. Like, a Harry Styles failure. And then they’re like, “Yes, all of you go on tour.” And then you have to wonder when she brings Tedros out, are these other musicians like, “That’s the guy who tortured us. Like, why are you bringing him back in the picture? I don’t want a shock collar around my neck anymore.”
Kiki Andersen [00:38:38] Right. We don’t really need him anymore. Maybe they do. Maybe he’s supposed to really be their muse. I also just want to go back really quick to the moment after that showcase where Lily-Rose–or Jocelyn–gets on her hands and knees and prays. When did she find God?
Ashley Ray [00:38:55] Right. Right. Like, what is that whole moment when the guy is, like, doing the whole monologue of, like, the fox and the hunter and blah, blah, blah. And she’s there just, like, praying just so we can get this, like, shot of Tedros looking over at her. And it’s like, “What? Since when is she, like, praying? And since when is she like, ‘I want him to know, like, he’s the prey.’” it didn’t make sense. It was just another moment where I was like, “Why did she pay them to send him away if she was just going to be like, ‘Come back’?” Like, you get no insight into her, like, inner working. And it’s supposed to be, I think, a scary ending when Tedros comes on the stage and Jocelyn is like, “You’re mine forever now. Go stand over there,” and is, like, controlling him. And it’s supposed to be like he doesn’t even realize, like, what he got himself into. Like, he’s the one who, like, was in too deep. And now he’s, like, tied to her forever. And it’s like, “I don’t think so. It seems like he could probably just get another $500,000 check and, like, be on his way.”
Kiki Andersen [00:40:04] Right. I think the moral of the story is we should feel bad for pimps.
Ashley Ray [00:40:10] Yeah. It seems very much like they have this lingering shot on Tedros, where you’re supposed to, like, I think, feel sympathy for him or feel bad that, like, “Oh no! A woman got one over on him.” And it’s like, “I don’t feel bad for anyone in this situation.”
Kiki Andersen [00:40:29] Yeah. And also, that moment where all of Jocelyn’s team is sitting around going, “We got him, we got him, we got him.” And they’re all Jewish. As a Jew? Very offended.
Ashley Ray [00:40:39] Okay. Okay. Let’s talk about this because I thought that there were a lot of issues and problems there. I am not Jewish, and I don’t know who behind the show could have, like, been writing it and was like, “Hey, I’m Jewish. This is chill.” But to me, the part where they’re all celebrating getting him and, like, taking him down and they’re like, “We control the media,” I was like, “Oh, this is bad. Why is this a message in the show?”
Kiki Andersen [00:41:15] Chaim and Finkelstein.
Ashley Ray [00:41:18] And they’re truly like, “Oh, we did it. Chaim and Finkelstein. We control the media. We are so powerful and strong. Like, that’ll show him.” There’s also a weird part where Tedros is like, “You guys don’t like me because I’m Black.” And it feels like a weird moment where Tedros is trying to be like, “Oh, these, like, Jewish media manipulators tried to take me out, but I’m still standing.”
Kiki Andersen [00:41:46] Well, I feel like there’s also a lot of weirdness around, like, Black culture in that show because he calls himself Black. But then Jocelyn’s assistant lady–I forget her name–who is Black, says, “African American.” And then Jocelyn’s other friend says, “People of color.” And that becomes a weird scene where, like, “Are you trying to say Black?”
Ashley Ray [00:42:08] Yeah. And that part was a little funny where they’re like, “You can just say ‘Black.’” They’re like, “Is he Hawaiian?” And she’s like, “No, I wouldn’t say ‘Hawaiian.’ I would say, like, a ‘person of color.’” And they’re like, “What?” That part makes a little sense with that character who’s always trying to, like, watch what she says.
Kiki Andersen [00:42:22] Yeah. That part was funny, but then it became a thing throughout the show.
Ashley Ray [00:42:26] It becomes a thing–yeah–where you’re like, “What are we supposed to…?” But also, it doesn’t seem clear what the show wants to say about that because the other dancer–the singer–that Tedros has is, like, a Black guy who they’re all obsessed with. And they’re like, “He’s like the next Prince.” And it’s like, “He’s there too.” And they never really talk about his race, never acknowledge it, never acknowledge all of these white girls who are all over him–basically treating him as a sex object. It just never comes up. But then with Tedros’ character, they’re like, “Is it because he’s Black?” It is like, “No.” I think it’s because he’s truly, like, doing coke. I will say the Weeknd did do well in that one scene when Jocelyn is having the meeting with the team and he’s just, like, clearly stoned out of his mind and, like, on drugs and is like, “You heard her, okay? 1:00.” That’s the real loser energy he should have had the whole show.
Kiki Andersen [00:43:25] Yeah. I do like the Weeknd when he comes unraveled. I was a fan.
Ashley Ray [00:43:30] Yeah. I was a fan. So why do you think that The Idol failed overall?
Kiki Andersen [00:43:36] I just think it… You know, Euphoria was a smashing success, and the weekend is a smashing success. And I just think that sometimes people take their success, try to delve into other things, you know, take women out of the picture and people that have an opinion and a vision, tear that shit apart, and ruin it.
Ashley Ray [00:43:57] Yeah. Yeah. I gotta agree. Well, that’s our big talk on The Idol. I truly feel like I survived something by finishing it. I was just like, “Wow, I’m on the other side. I will never think about this again, and I hope it leaves my memory quickly.” I do want to get into some TV news. Speaking of Max shows that were quite controversial and have ended recently, The Other Two on Max just announced the season that just ended—season four–that finale that just aired will be the series finale and the show isn’t coming back. Some people were shocked because the last season was the funniest one of the other two yet. Then it comes out that there’s all these H.R. complaints that the showrunners of the show have been horrible people–so horrible, in fact, that even Tina Fey came out making jokes about how evil the showrunners on the other two are. And if Tina Fey is telling you you’re being too mean, you’re being too mean. So, then it comes out that that’s probably the reason the show wasn’t renewed is because it turns out that the people behind the show are just like Cary and Brooke Dubek–evil and willing to do anything for fame–which is a sad, sad twist but, to me, is a little more shocking than The Idol. It’s like, “Oh, wow. They were really doing it the whole time.” Do you watch The Other Two?
Kiki Andersen [00:45:37] I don’t, unfortunately–but not surprised anytime a show has behind the scenes drama that embroils everybody.
Ashley Ray [00:45:45] Yeah, I feel like The Idol tried to really take on this, like, toxic Hollywood and what it’s really like. And The Other Two nailed it. You know, it is one of the best depictions of just how Hollywood will ruin you as a person and break your brain. And it turns out they got it so right because, behind the scenes, they were doing it to other writers for years.
Kiki Andersen [00:46:08] Wow.
Ashley Ray [00:46:08] Yeah. And it kind of came out. You know, the two people who run the show are from Saturday Night Live. They were the head writers from, I think, like, 2011 to 2017–something like that. They were the head writers. And it’s basically rumored that anyone who comes out of the SNL school of writing or show managing is going to be an asshole. Like, that’s the only way you can survive at SNL. So, then they get these shows where they’re, like, so used to be being treated like gods, which is so funny to me that you’re like, “I’m being treated like a God because I wrote a musical sketch on SNL about Beyoncé.”
Kiki Andersen [00:46:46] Comics gotta go back to being dorks.
Ashley Ray [00:46:48] Right. Like, be a loser. You’re a comedy writer. Stop getting your ego inflated. And then they go do these other shows, like The Other Two, and they just torture all these new writers on their team.
Kiki Andersen [00:46:58] Are they men?
Ashley Ray [00:47:01] It’s a gay man and a woman. And I think, you know–Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly–they’re really showing people, “We’re the biggest bullies still. Gay men, white women teaming up. We can be the biggest bullies on the block.” And I mean, this last season, they bullied so many people in the show. They made fun of Disney movies having their first gay nonbinary characters, which then happened in the show Elemental, like, a week after that episode came out. So, it was so clear almost that they are taking hits at Hollywood–people they really know and situations they know. And they were like, “Use that directly in the script.” And I love it. I mean, it worked. The fourth season of that show is one of the best comedies I’ve ever watched.
Kiki Andersen [00:47:52] I’m invested. I’m going to watch because I feel like it’ll add honey on my heart around some wounds that I have from the industry.
Ashley Ray [00:47:59] Yes. It will heal. Especially after watching The Idol that, like, celebrates the industry being shitty, watching The Other Two, you are like, “Oh, okay. So, we all realize this sucks, and we need to get better hobbies and lifestyles.” So, sorry to The Other Two–frequently on our homework list here at TV Club. And R.I.P. to a real one. And then I also want to briefly talk about the news that Ryan Murphy is threatening to sue a WGA strike captain. WGA Writers–we are still on strike. And somehow, despite that, Ryan Murphy currently has three shows in production.
Kiki Andersen [00:48:40] What?
Ashley Ray [00:48:41] Yeah. How? How? How, Ryan Murphy? We know you write on set. Like, how are you still in production? And so obviously strike captains have been trying to shut these productions down, and Ryan Murphy said he will sue you. And shockingly, the WGA sided with Ryan Murphy and was like, “We will reprimand this writer if he keeps messing with you, Mr. Murphy.” It’s just a sad thing that someone so rich and who has spoken out against the WGA is able to still pull so many strings in the union–that he’s clearly able to, like, work his way around whatever rules have been set up. And will I still watch the next season of American Horror Story? I don’t know anymore.
Kiki Andersen [00:49:25] It’s kind of fallen off anyway.
Ashley Ray [00:49:27] It fell off. So, yeah, like, I think the last season–1989–was so bad and made no sense. They were just like, “What if we did something kind of like AIDS is the monster, but then also there’s a real serial killer?” It didn’t make any sense.
Kiki Andersen [00:49:43] I know. I wanted it to continue being good. I loved American Horror Story when it first came out. Same with Black Mirror. I don’t know what’s going on with this last season, but…
Ashley Ray [00:49:50] Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. I kind of fell off on that one. I do know there’s some amazing talent in the newest season of Black Mirror, but that means I’ll probably watch, like, two years from now when I am home sick some weekend. That’s our big Idol episode. Thank you for helping me break it down, Kiki. I needed someone to get me through all the come talk. And you did it for me. I want to make sure everybody follows you. Check out Kiki’s podcast, Indecent. It is about everything that’s considered unacceptable in today’s society. Where can the people follow you?
Kiki Andersen [00:50:25] Yeah. If you want more come talk and other things–we do politics and religion, too–please follow me @itskikiandersen on Instagram and our podcast is Indecent Kiki. And you can listen anywhere you get your podcasts.
Ashley Ray [00:50:38] Nice. Is that the politics and religious religion of come?
Kiki Andersen [00:50:42] Yes. Our first few episodes do focus around sex, porn, sex work, all those things. But that’s not all we do. We cover anything indecent. So, stay tuned.
Ashley Ray [00:50:53] Yeah. So maybe Sam Levinson–listen–get some ideas. You know, get outside of the porn box. There’s other stuff you can be indecent about. Okay, guy?
Kiki Andersen [00:51:02] There you go. I would love to see them do a show that is a little less horny. We’re all horny. We get it.
Ashley Ray [00:51:08] We’re all horny, Sam. We get it. So, broaden your horizons, Sam Levinson, He listens. I’m sure he does. So, before we get out of here, I want to give you a little bit of homework. I am begging you to watch Glamorous on Netflix because, as I said, I’m obsessed with it. And if it doesn’t get ten seasons, I will die. I need this show to last for the rest of my life. It is so good. I need you to watch And Just Like That, the reboot. I love that they’re doing it weekly because it gives us something to talk about. But if I don’t scream about Che and Miranda with someone soon, I’m going to lose my mind. So, you’re going to want to catch up because I’m going to bring someone on so we can break down the Che and Miranda of it all. Oh, my goodness. And then last on the watchlist, I’m going to need you to jump back into the world of 90 Day Fiancé with me because 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way is coming back. Another season. And guess what? Kenny and Armando are back. That’s the big surprise. I don’t even think I’m actually supposed to announce that yet, but I am. So, there you go, TV Club. That’s an exclusive. Kenny and Armando are back on The Other Way. Let’s get ready for the new season. That’s your homework. You know, that’s all I got for you. I want to thank my amazing, amazing, amazing guest, Kiki Andersen. And hey, if you haven’t watched The Idol–maybe something we said makes you want to watch it–give it a shot. That’s all we have. We’ll be back next week with another episode. TV, I Say with Ashley Ray is an Earwolf production made by me, Ashley Ray-Harris. It’s engineered by Abby Aguilar, produced by Scott Sonne, executive produced by Amelia Chappelow. And our original theme song is by RaFia. It means so much to me if you go rate, review, subscribe. Follow TV, I Say. Let us know what you think and tell your friends. Share with your Golden Girls. Tell your Boys. If you love my TV recommendations, let everyone you know know. For special TV Club members, join my Patreon.
September 19, 2023
It’s almost time for the ‘The Golden Bachelor,’ and Ashley Ray couldn’t be more excited! TV Lover and host of High and Mighty, Jon Gabrus joins the pod to discuss why older women are sexy, cringey reality show kissing, and his love for ‘Project Runway All Stars.’
September 12, 2023
Guest Anthony Atamanuik
Things that don’t make Ashley Ray panic? Cult documentaries! ‘Don’t Panic’ host Anthony Atamanuik joins the podcast to discuss the story of Teal Swan, who made the best NXIVM doc, and whether or not he’d join a cult.
September 5, 2023
The Roys, the Lyons, The Righteous Gemstones, who’s your favorite TV family dynasty? ‘Even the Rich’ hosts Brooke Siffrinn and Aricia Skidmore-Williams join Ashley to discuss real and fictional family dynasties, the worst actor on Sex & the City, and Hulu’s current obsession with turning everything into a docu-series.