“The Idol” will not be returning for a second season at HBO, the network announced Monday.
HBO opted not to renew the controversial music industry drama from “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson, the fifth and final episode of which aired in July.
“The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” a spokesperson for HBO said in a statement. “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.”
Despite controversy surrounding the series from its preproduction to its shocking finale, an individual with knowledge of the decision told TheWrap that conversations about a potential Season 2 have been fluid and its cancellation was not decided until recently.
Cocreated by Levinson, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and Reza Fahim, “The Idol” follows Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a pop star who struggles to relaunch her imploding music career after a mental health breakdown derailed her last tour. As she leans on shady nightclub owner Tedros (Tesfaye), whose sinister past threatens to tear down the fragile remnants of her fame, her team’s carefully laid out plans begin to implode.
Despite debuting to 913,000 viewers, “The Idol,” which premiered on June 4, tracked at 3.6 million viewers for the week, outpacing the premiere viewership for the first seasons of HBO’s “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus” at the same point in time, which brought in 3.3 million in 2019 and 3 million viewers in 2021, respectively.
Its second episode brought in an audience of 800,000 people across Max and linear HBO telecasts the night of its airing, marking a 12.37% drop in viewership from its premiere. No further information about viewership for its subsequent episodes is known at this time.
Controversy has followed the show both on- and off-screen after Rolling Stone reported in March that filming on the HBO drama was plagued with a “sense of chaos,” as well as production delays and last-minute script rewrites — accusations that HBO denied. The report followed the news that former director Amy Seimetz had exited the project, prompting the network to overhaul the show as Levinson and Tesfaye stepped into the spotlight, leading to significant reshoots and adjustments in cast and crew.
“The creators and producers of ‘The Idol’ have been working hard to create one of HBO’s most exciting and provocative original programs,” HBO wrote in a statement to TheWrap at the time. “The initial approach on the show and production of the early episodes, unfortunately, did not meet HBO standards so we chose to make a change. Throughout the process, the creative team has been committed to creating a safe, collaborative and mutually respectful working environment, and last year, the team made creative changes they felt were in the best interest of both the production and the cast and crew. We look forward to sharing ‘The Idol’ with audiences soon.”
The series has also faced its fair share of criticism since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, where its first two episodes scandalized audiences with profanity and nudity some critics considered outrageous.
As its five-episode season went on, feminist media experts drilled down on its messaging and repercussions, with some calling it “hostile to feminism.”