The Idol has been cancelled at HBO, after just one season. HBO has chosen not to renew the controversial series from Sam Levinson and Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye, which was subjected to poor reception from both critics and audiences alike. Season 1 ended after merely five episodes, despite initially mentioning six planned episodes. This caused many to wonder if the studio was pulling the plug on the show early on due to hate-watching, albeit it was claimed later that it was a communication error. When rumours about the cancellation of a second season began making rounds in June, HBO’s PR team stepped in to say that a decision had not been made.
“The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” an HBO spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.” While some actors signed on for the show thinking it was a limited series, star Da’Vine Joy Randolph claimed in an interview that The Idol was always planned to have a second season and that HBO was ‘happy’ with how it turned out. Despite her comments, HBO stopped showing viewer data after the first two episodes.
The premiere drew 913,000 views across HBO cable and Max (formerly, HBO Max), which was 17 percent lower than co-creator Levinson’s previous hit series Euphoria (1.1 million viewers). Episode 2 dipped slightly to 800,000 viewers, after which the studio stopped putting out data. At the time, HBO attributed the drop in view count to linear television viewers, which made sense considering The Idol is targeted at a younger demographic — most of whom would ideally prefer streaming platforms over the TV channel. In India, the show was made available to stream on JioCinema, though Viacom18 hasn’t revealed any metrics yet. The Idol opened to a 19 percent average rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with key points of criticism being the overtly graphic sexual scenes and the lack of direction.
Dialogue from the show was heavily memed on the internet, specifically, the dirty talk uttered by The Weeknd, who played the cult leader Tedros who invaded pop star Jocelyn’s (Lily-Rose Depp) life. Back in March, a Rolling Stone report touched upon The Idol’s on-set turmoil, where its original director Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color) exited the project when 80 percent of the work was done. The focus was meant to be on the struggles and exploitation of a rising pop star in Los Angeles, before Levinson came on board and overwrote most of Seimetz’s work to glorify the toxic relationship between Depp and Tesfaye’s characters. He also ended up directing all episodes. It was also revealed that co-creator Tesfaye/ The Weeknd felt like the show was originally leaning ‘too much into a female perspective.’
All five episodes of The Idol are now available to stream on JioCinema in India, and Max wherever available.