Jocelyn’s main ambition, we learn, is to have a successful career making music she feels passionate about. She complains, repeatedly, that her forthcoming comeback single is “superficial” and tells Tedros she wants to be a “once-in-a-generation artist” with a lasting legacy, but without more context it’s hard to imagine what that means for her. Apart from a painting of Prince mounted in her foyer and a passing expository reference tot how she was discovered singing in a mall as a child, there’s little to glean about Jocelyn’s relationship to music, her creativity, her process, or what inspires her. Also unclear is Jocelyn’s place in the broader pop landscape; we’re told she canceled a tour date at Madison Square Garden, and we see paparazzi snap her photo when she goes to the club, but the lack of insight into her audience or her artistic identity makes it difficult to know, much less invest in, the stakes of her career rehabilitation.
Jocelyn’s flimsy characterization suggests Levinson’s primary interest is her relationship with Tedros, who manages to lure Jocelyn instantly upon meeting her at his nightclub, and whose presence catalyzes the only time we see her in a creative state. This seems to jibe with reports that the series went through a controversial and costly rehaul because Tesfaye thought the original version of the series, as crafted by former director Amy Seimetz, focused too much on “the female perspective,” which Levinson came aboard to course correct.
In a scene that effectively announces itself as the thesis of the show, Jocelyn solicits Tedros’ feedback on her single. His note: the music isn’t believable, because she sings like she “doesn’t know how to fuck.” Jocelyn falls for the neg, and the two engage in a theatrical bit of BDSM: Tedros drapes a swath of fabric over her face, ties it tightly around her neck, then pierces a knife through the fabric and into her mouth. As she gasps orgasmically, he announces, “Now you can sing.”