For Some, Blackpink’s Jennie Is the Only Reason to Watch ‘The Idol’

Before airing on HBO, the drama “The Idol” dominated headlines and social media for its controversies: At the Cannes Film Festival, where the first two episodes premiered, the series was widely panned for its graphic sexual content; it was rewritten and reshot after Sam Levinson, the creator of the series “Euphoria,” replaced Amy Seimetz as its director; and in March, Rolling Stone published an article detailing a troubled production.

But after its first episode was released on Sunday, a pop songstress took center stage. Not the main character Jocelyn, the show’s aspiring idol played by Lily-Rose Depp, but Dyanne, one of Jocelyn’s backup dancers portrayed by Jennie Kim, better known as Jennie of the K-pop girl group Blackpink.

Blackpink — which consists of Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé — has become one of the most globally recognized K-pop acts in recent years. Though Jennie isn’t the only member of the group to try her hand at acting, she may have its most high-profile role.

On the internet, clips abound praising Jennie in her acting debut. In one widely circulated scene, Dyanne, eyes half-lidded, lips parted and hair perfectly tousled, shows Jocelyn how to do the choreography for her new single.

The K-pop idol — clad in a loose, slightly ripped midriff, a black sports bra and high-waisted booty shorts — struts, poses, grinds, pops, locks and drops. Later, Jocelyn can be seen watching and wiping her tears over her failure to embody Dyanne’s indomitable stage presence.

That star quality wasn’t lost on fans of the singer and viewers of the show either.

“Jennie’s acting was very good for what her character was,” said Greta Dobson, a 27-year-old student in Brooklyn who considers herself a “blink,” what Blackpink fans affectionately call themselves. “It seems like it almost felt natural for her since she always has to do this for dance rehearsals. It must have been so meta for her.”

Search “The Idol” on TikTok or Twitter, and the number of posts critiquing the show is likely to match those commending Jennie’s performance.

Within hours after the series premiere was released, a TikTok account (@d4jenn) posted seven “fancam” videos of nearly all the scenes where Jennie was featured in the show’s pilot. (Each clip has garnered thousands of views.)

Anisa, 18, of Seattle, who runs the account and declined to give her last name, was one of many viewers who tuned into “The Idol” to watch her favorite K-pop star. She said had it not been for Jennie, she never would have watched the show.

“I would completely stop watching it,” she said. “And end my subscription with HBO Max.”

Though fans like Anisa were proud of Jennie’s acting debut, many hope the show’s first season, which consists of six episodes, will provide her with more screen time. “The show producers could’ve done a little more, even if she was a side character,” Ko Im, 37, a managing producer in Seattle, said in a message on Twitter. “They barely gave her lines she could really own.”

She added, “We need to see that main character energy she already has.”

Ms. Dobson, however, already speculates that Jennie may play a bigger role in the series.

“Are they going to utilize Jennie’s dancing and singing background in the show? Is she going to take Jocelyn’s role?” she said. “I guess we’ll just have to watch to find out.”

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