With BLACKPINK Jennie’s first acting project, “The Idol”, being buried in criticisms and controversies, doubts are being raised.
Recently, the highly anticipated series “The Idol” premiered its first episode. However, instead of the main characters, the Kpop fan community is ultra-focused on BLACKPINK Jennie, who appears as a supporting role. Despite her limited screen time, Jennie’s acting debut has been a topic of discussion, with people expressing mixed opinions.
An unsuitable project for a debut role
Invited by HBO to act in a series despite her lack of acting experience, Jennie demonstrated her allure and impact. However, a project like “The Idol” might not be the most suitable stepping stone for Jennie’s acting career, or simply for promoting her name to Western audiences.
In particular, Hollywood has long been notorious for its “underinvestment” in portraying Asian characters on screen. Although this situation has improved recently, truly established names in the global film industry, such as Michelle Yeoh and Steven Yeun, had to wait for decades to start landing roles that actually showcased their depth and abilities. Before that, they were often “typecasted”, and could only play certain stereotypical supporting characters with preconceived notions about their personality and ethnicity.
As a result, it is clear that HBO couldn’t give a major role to a Korean star, nor could they let Jennie actually shine. In the first episode, Jennie’s performance doesn’t seem to leave a strong impression. The female idol’s longest segment is a dance rehearsal scene, which is her strong suit. In contrast, the audience could only see glimpses of Jennie’s dialogue scenes or non-verbal expressions.
After watching the first episode, it’s easy for the audience to see that Jennie’s character is somewhat underdeveloped. She portrays Dyanne, a dancer working with the troubled pop star Jocelyn (played by Lily-Rose Depp). So far, this character doesn’t grow out of the “entertainment industry worker” stereotype, and her only trait is her free manners, always ready to dive into night-long parties.
Although Jennie has never focused on a “good girl” image, her role as a bold character like Dyanne still startled many fans. As a result, on social media platforms, many people have expressed their confusion about Jennie’s decision to choose such a bold and explicit project, especially when she’s a Kpop idol – who generally needs to maintain a certain image.
According to the team behind the series, Dyanne will appear in all six episodes of the first season of “The Idol”. Therefore, BLACKPINK fans can hope to see more of Jennie’s acting. However, many predict that this character won’t undergo significant changes nor character development in the remaining episodes, leaving little for expectations.
If lucky, Dyanne might have one or two valuable scenes, such as a conversation with Jocelyn, which could help the main character change her perspective on life. However, if this doesn’t happen, the remaining scenes for Dyanne will likely just focus on showcasing her dancing or more intense partying than in the first episode.
Prominent names don’t guarantee quality
The fact that Jennie accepted the invitation to participate in “The Idol” is actually not a difficult decision to understand. A proposal from a major player in the American television industry like HBO is truly hard to resist. In addition, this move is extremely suitable for BLACKPINK’s ambition to advance even further in the United States, which is also the direction of the entire Kpop industry in the past few years.
Jennie herself also expressed enthusiasm for the project, saying, “The fact that it was about the music industry fascinated me, and I thought I could bring something to the role. It was an opportunity to just be myself and be brave. I didn’t really train for it, or prep anything. Sam wanted me to just be myself.”
On top of this, Sam Levinson, the main producer of “The Idol”, has recently made a significant impact with the resounding success of popular series “Euphoria.” The filmmaker, born in 1985, is famous for understanding the mentality of young audiences, and his projects are all meticulously invested in costume design, visuals, at the same time featuring talented cast members with attractive appearances. Furthermore, the topics he explored often revolve around “teen psychology”, as well as the darker aspects of American society.
However, the American producer is also known for being behind controversial and provocative projects, and intense explicit scenes have always been a specialty in Levinson’s works. In fact, Sydney Sweeney, a rising star from “Euphoria”, once admitted that her father and grandfather were too afraid to watch the series due to its high rating, despite always supporting her career.
Unlike “Euphoria,” a work that received numerous awards and garnered praise from audiences and critics alike, “The Idol” has been criticized for its somewhat distorted content, as well as exaggerated and overly romanticized depiction of Hollywood stars’ party lifestyle. The film is currently rated “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average fresh rating of only 32%.
Some international websites also openly criticize the project, with The Playlist calling “The Idol” a “crude provocation” that is “gross and sexist”. Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph does not hesitate to describe the film as HBO’s “sleazy new low”, which is just “fatuously graphic” and sure has “the very worst line of dialogue we’ll hear all year”.
Is “The Idol” a wise decision?
Prior to its official release, the first three episodes of “The Idol” were introduced at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and received quite negative feedback from industry insiders. Therefore, audiences should not expect significant improvements in quality in the upcoming episodes, that remains to be released.
It can be said that Jennie is quite similar to her fellow BLACKPINK member, Jisoo, as both faced immense controversies with their venture into the acting industry. However, with “Snowdrop”, Jisoo had the opportunity to challenge herself with a leading role and more chances to showcase her talents.
On the other hand, Jennie chose a project where she had limited screen time, yet received severe criticism fỏ the series’ overall negative review. Nevertheless, the responsibility for creating this controversial series lies with the Hollywood team, not a supporting actress like Jennie.