After only one highly criticized season, The Idol is over.
“The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” HBO said in a statement. “After much thought and consideration, HBO, as well as the creators and producers have decided not to move forward with a second season. We’re grateful to the creators, cast, and crew for their incredible work.”
The Idol‘s five-episode season, starring Tesfaye and Lily-Rose Depp, was certainly “provocative,” but not well-received.
The drama follows Jocelyn (Depp), a pop superstar who navigates through dark corners of Hollywood and falls in love with her abuser, the rat-tail-sporting cult leader Tedros (Tesfaye). Through ample nudity and real lines like “Mental illness is sexy,” co-creators Tesfaye and Levinson spun a dark, often laugh-worthy narrative shunned by critics and viewers alike.
Even before its debut in June, there was controversy surrounding The Idol. Director Amy Seimetz quit the production in April, and was replaced by Levinson, who reshot many scenes. One month later, Rolling Stone released a report claiming the show is a “rape fantasy” that was filmed on a film set with a toxic, disorganized work environment. (In response to the Rolling Stone article, Tesfaye notably shared a deleted scene from The Idol that sees his character call the outlet “irrelevant.” The post has since been deleted.)
As The Idol aired, more negative press rolled in. GQ said The Idol gave viewers “the worst sex scene in history,” and described Tesfaye’s performance as one with “all the energy and sexual enticement of Gollum scurrying for a fish.” The Guardian said Tesfaye ought to “be tried at The Hague” for his performance, alongside the “limp, glazed-over, chain-smoking nothingness of Lily-Rose Depp.”
The Idol received only 19 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that HBO chose to let The Idol go, even with Euphoria creator Levinson and superstar Tesfaye at the helm.
On social media, many The Idol viewers are already grieving the loss of their latest hate-watch.
The first and only season of The Idol concluded in July and is available to stream on HBO Max, if you dare.