The Weeknd's "The Idol" Reviews Are Not Favorable

The verdict is in.

BYAron A.
"The Idol" Photocall - The 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival

One of the most anticipated shows of the year is HBO’s The Idol created by The Weeknd and Sam Levinson. Although information regarding the show has been rather limited until its Cannes Film Festival premiere, there were already concerns surrounding the limited series. A report from Rolling Stone detailed some of the behind-the-scenes drama with interviews from 13 members of the crew. HBO and The Idol creators faced accusations of fostering a toxic work environment while the show’s content was compared to “torture porn.”

Unfortunately, the debut of The Idol didn’t necessarily push back against these claims but instead, according to critics, reinforced them. Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times compared the show to “a Pornhub-homepage odyssey,” largely due to the number of nude scenes involving Lily Rose Depp. Meanwhile, Gregory Ellwood of ThePlaylist.net called the first episode “eh,” although admitted there were some funny scenes as well as cool stylistic choices. However, he described the second episode as “sexist, pseudo-porn.”

“The Idol” Reportedly Doesn’t Live Up To The Hype

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Sam Levinson, Lily-Rose Depp and Abel 'The Weeknd' Tesfaye attend "The Idol" photocall at the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)

With The Weeknd’s name attached, The Idol became one of those shows that people believed could be great. However, following the Rolling Stone piece, there have been a number of people skeptical on what he has in store. During the red carpet, Sam Levinson and Lily Rose Depp provided a direct response to the allegations. “I just wanna say that it’s always sad and disheartening to hear mean, false things about someone you care about, and it wasn’t my experience shooting the show,” Depp said, per Rolling Stone

At the same time, Levinson acknowledged that show was intended to be provocative. Still, he was caught off-guard by some of the claims. “When I read the specifics, however, it just felt completely foreign to me. But I know who I am. There’s the work, and there’s the managing of the persona. And that is not interesting to me, because it takes away from the work,” he stated. “They’re free to write whatever they want. My only gripe is that they intentionally omitted anything that didn’t fit their narrative. But there’s been a lot of that lately.” 

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About The Author
Aron A. is a features editor for HotNewHipHop. Beginning his tenure at HotNewHipHop in July 2017, he has comprehensively documented the biggest stories in the culture over the past few years. Throughout his time, Aron’s helped introduce a number of buzzing up-and-coming artists to our audience, identifying regional trends and highlighting hip-hop from across the globe. As a Canadian-based music journalist, he has also made a concerted effort to put spotlights on artists hailing from North of the border as part of Rise & Grind, the weekly interview series that he created and launched in 2021. Aron also broke a number of stories through his extensive interviews with beloved figures in the culture. These include industry vets (Quality Control co-founder Kevin "Coach K" Lee, Wayno Clark), definitive producers (DJ Paul, Hit-Boy, Zaytoven), cultural disruptors (Soulja Boy), lyrical heavyweights (Pusha T, Styles P, Danny Brown), cultural pioneers (Dapper Dan, Big Daddy Kane), and the next generation of stars (Lil Durk, Latto, Fivio Foreign, Denzel Curry). Aron also penned cover stories with the likes of Rick Ross, Central Cee, Moneybagg Yo, Vince Staples, and Bobby Shmurda.