“The Idol” Receives Standing Ovation At Cannes Despite Public Criticism

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Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, Lily-Rose Depp and Sam Levinson attend the "The Idol" red carpet during the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 22, 2023 in Cannes, France.

Sam Levinson’s latest HBO Max collaboration, “The Idol”, has seen numerous delays amid public criticism of both the storyline and the behind-the-scenes creative process. Despite the difficulties, the first two episodes of the show, which stars Lily Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) in the titular roles, premiered at Cannes to a standing ovation.

After 13 crew members came forward to Rolling Stone alleging poor working conditions and unforeseen creative changes, the public was quick to criticize the once much anticipated show. Levinson, who notably directed HBO’s smash hit “Euphoria” replaced writer-director Amy Seimetz (of “The Girlfriend Experience). Levinson’s take on the show skews the content towards violence, while Seimetz previously aimed to prioritize women’s narratives.

After a plot point from the script leaked on Twitter, users were quick to call it out as “torture porn.” Levinson’s heavily sexualized depictions of women in “Euphoria” previously were questioned when actress Sydney Sweeney alleged that she fought to have some of her nude scenes cut from the show. Despite the positive reaction at Cannes, the court of public opinion still has a bone to pick amid potential critical acclaim.

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Many criticized HBO for the alleged lack of diversity in the writers’ room for “The Idol.” The criticism comes amid the ongoing WGA strike. 


Others fear that HBO’s quality will continue to backslide amid the WGA strike. The hugely successful “Succession” and “Barry” recently concluded.

Some argued that the brief standing ovation was a typical Cannes courtesy.

Levinson delivered an emotional speech on the show’s Cannes premiere, and was met with criticism online yet again for the way that he writes female characters.



The show’s premiere comes briefly after Abel Tesfaye announced his intention to put an end to his stage persona as The Weeknd. “The Idol” will hit Max on June 4.

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