One of the most polarizing TV shows of this year, HBO’s ‘The Idol’ courted controversy months before the first episode even came out.
HBO first called the series to order way back in 2021 – after multiple rewrites, production delays and a long hiatus, the show finally made its debut at Cannes Film Festival earlier this June. The Sam Levinson-directed show stars Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye, who also has co-writing credits, as Tedros, a self-help guru and nightclub owner with a cult-ish aura about him along with Lili Rose-Depp as a rising pop artist who falls into a toxic relationship with him.
Many already had pretty low expectations from the show from the teasers and rumours surrounding it – but now that the first five episodes are out, it’s even worse than they expected. From The Weeknd’s jarring acting, to beyond-cringe sex scenes – the episodes seem to confirm many people’s earlier prediction that this show was nothing but a ‘megalomaniac’s sexual fantasies’ bought to life.
— Girl Gaze (@returnthegaze) June 19, 2023
Earlier rumours and comments by the show’s original director Amy Seimetz, who dropped out after an alleged dispute, suggested that the show was meant to put Depp’s character in the spotlight – focusing on a troubled starlet falling victim to a predatory industry figure and fighting to reclaim her own agency. But Levinson and Tesfaye apparently took control of the operation, changing the plot to a degrading love story instead.
Although showrunners probably intended for viewers to hail the show as a masterpiece, the actual reception has been a far cry. HBO said the premiere had 913,000 viewers, which combined Nielsen’s linear viewership measurement with the company’s own Max streaming data. That’s down 17 per cent from “Euphoria’s” Season 1 debut, according to Variety. The reviews of the show have been brutal and it currently has a 28 per cent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 58 per cent audience score).
Given all this, speculations regarding a second season are still in the air. But some still think the show has potential if showrunners followed their original plan and brought Depp’s character into the spotlight.
Although famous musicians dipping their toes in the world of acting has been happening for a long time – recently there’s been an influx of musicians making their acting debuts in seemingly the most random projects. Harry Styles’ leading role in ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ also received similar criticism. Many think that perhaps it would do the singers’ best if they stuck to their fields and let actors do what they’re best at.