Oh God, Reviews For 'The Idol' Are In

the weeknd the idol tv show hbo
Oh God, Reviews For 'The Idol' Are InHBO

Thought Euphoria was crazy? Get ready for The Idol, HBO's latest series that has critics in a frenzy. The show follows the life of a fragile pop star who has a mental breakdown due to her mother's untimely death—and is eager to re-vamp her career. The Idol was co-created by Euphoria's Sam Levinson, singer The Weeknd, and Reza Fahim, The Weeknd’s producing partner. Lily-Rose Depp (Voyagers) stars in the series alongside The Weeknd, in what the first teaser for the series dubbed as "the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood."

Though the A24-produced show has been met with controversial allegations against Levinson, the working relationships on set, and the show's subject matter, The Idol still seems to be a big priority for HBO this year. In the past few weeks, both Depp and Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) have defended Levinson and denied the alleged on-set turmoil. The Weeknd recently performed a song from the series at Coachella—and yesterday, The Idol's first episode premiered for critics and the press at the Cannes Film Festival.

Following the premiere, Levinson, The Weeknd, and Depp attended a press conference where they spoke about the show’s controversy. Depp said reports of a toxic set were “mean” and “false.” Levinson added, "We know that we’re making a show that is provocative... when my wife read me the article I looked at her and said, 'I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.'”

Keep reading for everything we kn0w about The Idol.

What Have Critics Written About The Idol?

Film and television critics provided their takes on the show after attending the premiere last night. Here’s what they've written:

Peter Debrudge, Variety

“The script seems calculated to fool audiences into thinking they’re observing how Hollywood operates when so much of it amounts to tawdry clichés lifted from Sidney Sheldon novels and softcore porn…The Idol plays like a sordid male fantasy…”

“One could argue there’s something revolutionary in the way Levinson depicts female sexuality—although the cast of Showgirls would probably beg to differ. Whereas that project all but ended Elizabeth Berkley’s career, The Idol positions Depp as a fearless performer. Her barely-there wardrobe and hyper-erotic choreography push back on the kind of celebrity sex shaming blasted by docs such as Framing Britney Spears and Janet Jackson. But Levinson takes things too far in the other direction, getting kinky anytime Jocelyn and Tedros are together.”

“Zeitgeist-shaking TV series can be a delivery device for subversive social critique. Trouble is, Levinson’s worldview seems corrupt. It shouldn’t take degradation and suffering to make Jocelyn stronger. Euphoria audiences won’t be too surprised by the shameful way he treats Depp’s character, as both she and the show appear trapped under The Weeknd’s thumb.”

Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter

"The Idol shows glimmers of potential when it stops trying so hard to be shocking. There’s a strenuousness to the sex scenes between Depp and Tesfaye that kills any sense of eroticism. It’s a relief when the show moves away from them and focuses on Joceyln’s struggle to stage a comeback."

Damon Wise, Deadline

“Until we know more, it’s hard to make value judgments about morality and ethics, or, more substantively, the arguments about the male gaze and female body rights that are coming in the water like a stealth torpedo. However it turns out, Depp is quite rivetingly game with, to put it mildly, a highly sexualized performance that also is grounded and often vulnerable, discomfitingly addressing the fine lines between porn and art, power and exploitation that have faced young women in the music industry for years.”

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“Ahead of its premiere, The Idol was whispered about as a very risqué show. It is certainly trying hard to shock and titillate us. But there’s something oddly prosaic about what I’ve seen so far. There’s a slight awkwardness, too, as if Levinson and his actors are talking dirty for the very first time.”

“Levinson’s whole deal is not for everyone—and often not for me—but The Idol offers up enough regular old entertainment to balance out his aggressive flourish and the bluster of his thematic ambitions. Just don’t approach the first two episodes with any notion that you are about to see something startling and transgressive. Maybe that stuff is coming in later episodes, but thus far, The Idol is way too Top 40 to rattle the squares.”

What Is The Idol About, Exactly?

Here's the official plot description from HBO: "After a nervous breakdown derailed Jocelyn’s (Lily-Rose Depp) last tour, she’s determined to claim her rightful status as the greatest and sexiest pop star in America. Her passions are reignited by Tedros (Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye), a nightclub impresario with a sordid past. Will her romantic awakening take her to glorious new heights or the deepest and darkest depths of her soul?" Based on what we've seen so far in the previews, our bet is on the latter.

Who Will Star in The Idol?

The cast list is looking pretty impressive. Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan will be a series regular—and Debby Ryan, of Disney Channel fame, will hold a recurring role. The most exciting name, in our humble opinion? BLACKPINK's Jennie will make an appearance, although it's unclear at the moment if it's more than a cameo. Other members of the cast include Hari Nef, Rachel Sennott, Nico Hiraga, TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, Hank Azaria, Mike Dean, and Anne Heche.

When Will The Idol Release?

The first episode of The Idol will debut on Sunday, June 4, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Not much else is known just yet—like how many episodes we'll see, or if HBO has plans for more seasons—but watch this space for updates. For now, check out the absolutely batshit trailer for The Idol below.

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