HBO has decided not to renew its provocative drama series The Idol for a second season, despite the strong audience response. The show, which starred Lily Rose-Depp and The Weeknd as a pop star and a cult leader respectively, had been plagued by allegations of a toxic work environment and a drastic change in its creative vision.
The Idol: A Show That Sparked Debates and Outrage
The Idol, which premiered on HBO in June 2023, followed the story of Jocelyn (Depp), a young pop star who was trying to make a comeback after a scandalous breakup. She became involved with Tedros (The Weeknd), a charismatic nightclub owner who also led a secret cult that worshipped him as a god. The show explored themes of fame, power, sex, and violence, and featured a supporting cast of popular actors and musicians, such as Dan Levy, Troye Sivan, Jennie from BLACKPINK, Rachel Sennott, Hari Nef, Hank Azaria, Jane Adams, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.
The show was co-created by The Weeknd, Reza Fahim, and Sam Levinson, the creator of the hit show Euphoria. It was produced by HBO and A24, the studio behind acclaimed films such as Moonlight, Lady Bird, and Uncut Gems. The show was marketed as one of HBO’s most exciting and original programs, but it also attracted a lot of criticism and controversy for its graphic and disturbing content.
Some viewers and critics praised the show for its bold and daring storytelling, while others slammed it for being exploitative, sensationalist, and offensive. The show also faced backlash from various groups and communities for its depiction of religion, sexuality, race, and gender. Some of the most controversial scenes in the show included a mass suicide ritual, a violent orgy, a cannibalistic feast, and a mock crucifixion.
The Idol: A Show That Had Trouble Behind the Scenes
The Idol was not only controversial on screen, but also off screen. According to a report by Rolling Stone in March 2023, the show had undergone a major overhaul after the exit of director Amy Seimetz and cast member Jena Malone. Seimetz was reportedly unhappy with the direction of the show and clashed with Levinson over creative differences. Malone left the show due to personal reasons.
The report also alleged that the show had a toxic work environment that caused stress and anxiety among the crew members. Some sources claimed that Levinson was abusive and demanding on set, and that he had rewritten the script multiple times without consulting the writers or the actors. Some crew members also complained about the long hours, the lack of safety protocols, and the exposure to explicit and violent scenes.
HBO denied the allegations and issued a statement to BuzzFeed News in March 2023: “The creators and producers of The Idol have been working hard to create one of HBO’s most exciting and provocative original programs. The initial approach on the show and production of the early episodes, unfortunately, did not meet HBO standards so we chose to make a change.”
The show resumed production in Los Angeles with new director Janicza Bravo, who had previously worked with Levinson on Euphoria. The show also recast some roles and reshoot some scenes to fit the new vision. However, the changes did not seem to improve the reception or ratings of the show.
The Idol: A Show That Will Not Return for a Second Season
On August 29, 2023, HBO announced that it had canceled The Idol after one season. In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, an HBO spokesperson said: “The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response. 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 news came as a surprise to some fans who were hoping for more episodes of the show. The first season ended on a cliffhanger that left many questions unanswered. Some fans speculated that the cancellation was due to the negative reviews or the low ratings of the show. Others wondered if it was due to the creative differences or conflicts among the creators or actors.
The cast and crew of The Idol have not commented publicly on the cancellation yet. However, some of them have hinted at their future projects on social media. Levinson is working on Season 3 of Euphoria, which is expected to premiere in 2024. Depp is starring in Robert Eggers’ upcoming film Nosferatu, which is currently in post-production. The Weeknd is on tour for his latest album After Hours, which has been nominated for several awards.