The Idol is a new HBO original show that’s made waves on the internet — and not exactly for the best reasons. Between the on-set drama and the show’s poor reception from Gen Z, The Idol has solidified itself as one of the most controversial shows of 2023. However, despite its problematic status, Gen Z can’t stop talking about it — for better or for worse. The most recent topic of discussion, however, is TikTok’s perceived similarities between the show’s star character and Selena Gomez.
ICYMI, Gomez has some connections to the show’s co-creator, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye. The two were linked for about a year in 2017, but were said to have split amicably. Created by Euphoria‘s Sam Levinson and Tesfaye, The Idol follows child-star-turned-popstar Jocelyn and her descent into the dark and twisted underbelly of the entertainment industry after meeting club owner (and, like, pseudo-cult leader?) Tedros. The five-episode mini-series (which was originally supposed to contain six episodes) premiered on June 4 to mixed reviews from critics and general audiences alike.
The show has been heavily criticized for its overtly sexual and abusive themes, over-the-top nudity, and accusations of exploiting the trauma women in the entertainment industry face. Her Campus reached out to both Levinson and Tesfaye’s teams for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
While Levinson continues to stress that The Idol isn’t based on “any particular pop star,” it hasn’t stopped folks on TikTok from drawing parallels between Jocelyn and IRL pop stars like Britney Spears and Gomez alike. Let’s just chalk it up to coincidence, shall we?
- The Hospital wristband
In the series’ first episode, Jocelyn poses for her album’s cover wearing a hospital wristband, leftover from her stint in a mental hospital. After this scene aired, fans were quick to remember that Gomez posed wearing a hospital bracelet while promoting her song “Bad Liar” in 2017. Gomez’s bracelet, however, was due to her seeking treatment for Lupus, a condition she has been open and honest about.
- The Topless album cover
In the same episode, Jocelyn poses topless for her album cover, much like Gomez for her 2015 album, Revival.
In 2022, Selena admitted that she felt “ashamed” of the photoshoot looking back. “It’s really unfair,” Gomez said at the Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actress Roundtable. “I actually did an album cover and I was really ashamed after I did it.”
However, a ton of pop idols have posed nude, or topless, for album covers and magazines — so to say that it’s strictly Gomez would be a bit of a stretch.
- The child actor to pop star pipeline
Additionally, fans pointed out that both Jocelyn and Gomez were child stars on a popular family sitcom. Before her music career and starring role in Only Murders In The Building, Gomez rose to fame due to her roles in Barney & Friends, Wizards Of Waverly Place, and other Disney Channel projects.
Additionally, the show’s cast and crew have spoken on Jocelyn’s similarities to other child-stars-turned-popstars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
- The canceled tour
In The Idol, Jocelyn cancels her tour due to her struggles with mental health. On TikTok, users have pointed out that, in 2016, Gomez also canceled her Revival tour due to mental health concerns.
“I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” Gomez told People. “I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off.”
- The best friend/assistant relationship
Finally, on TikTok, users pointed out that both Jocelyn and Gomez have collaborated with their assistant, who also happens to be their best friend, on side projects. In The Idol, Jocelyn and her assistant/BFF Leia work on a makeup line together while, in IRL, Gomez and her assistant/BFF Theresa Mingus collaborated on Mingus’ swimwear brand, La’Mariette.