After only one season, The Idol has officially been cancelled. The controversial HBO series debuted after steady stream of popular shows, such as House of the Dragon, The Last of Us, Barry, and Succession, but the raunchy Sam Levinson drama—which starred Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd—is the outlier among a group of instant successes.
“'The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response," wrote a spokeswoman from HBO. "After much 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.”
Unfortunately, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Despite its star-studded cast and endless promotion, The Idol fell flat. Ratings for the show were abysmal. The first episode only pulled in 913,000 viewers, and ratings for the second episode fell 12% (which equates to roughly 100,000 viewers). According to The Hollywood Reporter, Episode Two was overshadowed by the Tony Awards, which garnered 4.31 million viewers.
For a network that had audiences leaving the 2023 Academy Awards broadcast to catch The Last of Us finale, it's not a good look. As The Idol continued, viewers have also mocked The Weeknd's acting and derided its outrageously sexual material. What can we say? It makes sense that Season Two was scrapped.
The only question that remains is if The Idol was expected to continue in the first place. Earlier this year, a rumor spread that the series would not be renewed and HBO issued a statement on their official PR Twitter account to debunk the claims. "It is being misreported that a decision on a second season of The Idol has been determined," the network wrote. "It has not, and we look forward to sharing the next episode with you Sunday night.”
Perhaps the decision-makers behind the scenes were just as confused as we were. The Page Six story that predicted The Idol's cancelation quoted two anonymous sources close to production who each claimed that there would not be a second season. But it's a little more nuanced than that. According to one source, the show was "never meant to be a long-running show, it was always… a limited series." Meanwhile, the other source said, "The door is definitely still open" regarding more episodes. "It’s a Sam Levinson show, and you know what you’re getting with a Sam Levinson show," the source continued.
Throughout its tumultuous run, The Idol was not marketed as a limited series, but it may be the perfect way out for HBO. If pressed for details, they can just say, "The Idol wasn't cancelled—it was always meant to be a limited series!" Easy. Necks saved. Until then, this very strange show can be found on MAX. Tune in if you dare.
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