Writer-director Sam Levinson’s latest venture, HBO’s “The Idol”, has been subject to a storm of rumors for months surrounding its production. 13 crew members came forward to Rolling Stone about alleged poor working conditions on set. Then, the magazine revealed that Amy Siemetz was initially set to write and direct, but was replaced with Levinson at executive producer Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd)’s request, as her script catered too much to the “female perspective.”
The show has been torn to shreds with allegations of torture porn, unnecessary explicit content, and a misunderstanding of women in music. With all of the production drama, many feared that the show as a whole was doomed, despite boasting a promising cast. Critics at Cannes who viewed the first three episodes had the show debut at a rancid 9% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Audience scores for the show currently sit at 55% percent, but viewers across social media are already posting their memeable critiques of the first episode.
Many were quick to react to what appeared to be cheap appeals to the sensationalized grime of the music industry. Depp’s character Jocelyn is the biggest pop star in the current world, but she cannot stop smoking cigarettes.
— ????PsychicSidekick???? (@ScammerZexion) June 5, 2023
The episode ended with a bizarre near-suffocation scene in Jocelyn’s recording studio. Many viewers were not surprised by the scene, but disturbed nonetheless. The show has long been dubbed an ode to director Levinson’s strange fantasies, and this scene is likely one of several others to come throughout the series. Some feel that the network is seeing a decline following the endings of the massively successful “Succession” and “Barry”.
oh the idol is BAD bad i cannot believe this monstrosity is replacing succession sunday pic.twitter.com/nZGN43nofX
— elle (@madmens4e7) June 5, 2023
The show also serves as Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd)’s producing and major acting debut. Some felt that several of his scenes were cliché, notably his entrance into Jocelyn’s house.
— sof (@putalul) June 5, 2023
The Levinson Commentary
Levinson revealed at Cannes that “The Idol” takes place in the same universe as his other successful HBO show, “Euphoria.” Maddy Perez (played by Alexa Demie) of “Euphoria” was recently announced to make a cameo in “The Idol.” She appeared in the show for a split second, leading fans to joke that Levinson only included her to get critics off his back.
Maddy perez in the idol pic.twitter.com/ZA9ZFaG1uA
— jada (@ctrlfreecss) June 5, 2023
While many still plan to boycott “The Idol”, others continue to stay loyal to “Euphoria”, another Levinson production. Some say that the boycott is meaningless if viewers continue to flock to the controversial director’s other projects.
“Euphoria” has also faced criticism over the sexualization of its teenaged female characters. Notably, actress Sydney Sweeney, who plays Cassie Howard in the show, revealed that she asked Levinson to cut several of her nude scenes.
what happened to not watching the idol and praying on sam levinson’s downfall pic.twitter.com/vwd5soeTo3
— liz (@shrrooms) June 5, 2023
Meanwhile on TikTok, some viewers acknowledge that the show has good bones. The plot could explore mental health and celebrities under the microscope of fame. However, most continue to fear that Levinson will keep the story superficial on this front.
“The Idol” streams every Sunday on Max at 9 p.m. local time.