Well, that’s it for “The Idol,” the most hate-watched show of the summer.
“‘The Idol’ was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” a spokesperson for HBO wrote in a statement to The Times on Monday.
“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 HBO series starring Lily-Rose Depp and the show’s co-creator, Abel Tesfaye (the Weeknd), seemed to be doomed before it even premiered. The cast and creators of “The Idol” attempted to use its Cannes Film Festival premiere to change the narrative a Rolling Stone exposé had painted of the show, which called it “torture porn” and a “rape fantasy” rooted in toxic masculinity. But the show couldn’t shake the bad rap, especially as it became social media’s favorite hate-watch.
“When my wife read me the article,” said Sam Levinson, the show’s co-creator and director, “I looked at her and said, ‘I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.’
“We know we’re making a show that’s provocative,” he told journalists the day after the series premiered in Cannes. “What was in [the article] felt completely foreign to me, but I know who I am. There’s two jobs in this business, there’s the work and there’s the managing of the persona, and managing the persona is not interesting to me because it takes away time and energy from the work.”
The provocative show proved to be too boundary-pushing for many, and reviews used phrases including “hot garbage.”
“Virtually all of the chatter has been damning, to say the least, with strong criticism of the show’s clunky writing, Tesfaye’s awkward acting and the creators’ apparent inability to understand that the series is engaging in precisely the type of exploitation that it purports to denounce,” The Times’ Mikael Wood wrote.
Created by “Euphoria” writer and director Levinson, Tesfaye and Reza Fahim, Season 1 of “The Idol” followed tormented pop star Jocelyn (Depp), who is determined to regain her stardom, and her relationship with sleazy nightclub owner Tedros (Tesfaye). “The Idol” concluded in July after months of criticism and controversy.
Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer lists the show with a 19%, and an audience score of 41%. And a “Top Critic” on the site, Richard Ferguson, wrote, “The Idol doesn’t work. It’s lurid and sleazy. And it looks like the blokes are to blame.”
After the series finale, Depp posted a series of shots from the show on Instagram, writing, “Thank you all for watching, listening, laughing & crying with us. Thank you to everyone – cast, crew, and everyone in between – who poured their hearts into making this show. Thank you Sam and Abel for the wildest, most beautiful journey of my life. & My idol family… I love you guys till the end of time”