“The Idol” — HBO’s controversy-ridden series from Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye — has been canceled after one season.
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“’The Idol’ was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” said a spokesperson for HBO. “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.”
Season 1 concluded — after just five episodes, shortened from the originally planned six-episode run — on July 2. The decision to cancel the series was made recently after a lack of clarity for both viewers and cast members about whether the series had the potential to continue. In an interview with Variety, star Moses Sumney said that he signed on thinking it was a limited series, while star Da’Vine Joy Randolph told Variety she thought “everyone’s intention [was] to have a second season.” When a rumor swirled that the show had been canceled, HBO posted on X, then known as Twitter, that there was no status update yet.
Created by Levinson and the Weeknd, with the Weeknd starring opposite Lily-Rose Depp, “The Idol” began making headlines well before its debut. In April 2022, news broke that Amy Seimetz had exited as director and would be replaced by Levinson as the series underwent significant reshoots. Then, a March 2023 Rolling Stone report detailed serious allegations about a toxic set, which the Weeknd responded to by posting a deleted scene where his character described Rolling Stone as “irrelevant.” At the Cannes Film Festival, Levinson said the article made him realize the show would be “the biggest show of the summer.”
Overall, “The Idol” was poorly received, with a 19% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety‘s review said that the series “plays like a sordid male fantasy.”
Ratings for the series were middling. It premiered with 913,000 viewers — 17% fewer than the 2019 launch of “Euphoria,” another HBO show hailing from Levinson that targeted a young adult audience, with fewer celebrity attached at the time of release. However, that number did grow to 3.6 million viewers after the episode’s first full week of availability, and now sits at 7 million. Episode 2 fell to 800,000 viewers on its first night.
Throughout the rest of the series’ run, HBO declined to share viewership data.
Along with Levinson and the Weeknd, Reza Fahim served as co-creator of “The Idol.” All three executive produced with Kevin Turen, Ashley Levinson, Joe Epstein, Sara E. White and Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert. A24 also produced.
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