The first two episodes of HBO’s upcoming series The Idol debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday night. Since then, the show has received a deluge of unfavorable reviews.
There wasn’t much information available about the show before Rolling Stone’s explosive exposé about its purportedly troubled production, which was published in March and in which one crew member referred to it as a “rape fantasy.” The world premiere last night seemed to confirm that idea.
Critics have been vocal about their dislike for the collaboration between Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and singer Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, with negative reviews appearing on various publications and platforms.
Film critic Stephanie Zacharek also shared her unfavorable opinion of the show in her study, “Not since early 1980s cable TV has there been such a parade of decorous yet sleazy debauchery, though it’s all presented with a kind of shockeroo enlightened knowingness that pretends to expose exploitation even while reveling in it.”
The show had a 20% rating when it first appeared on Rotten Tomatoes, but it has since dropped to 10%.
But as the saying goes, no press is bad press, and stars Lily-Rose Depp, Levinson, and Tesfaye seem to know exactly what they’re doing as they add to the intrigue of the program with their responses to the public’s response.
The three were present at the celebrations in France, and their press appearances have only served to fan the controversy’s flames.
Here is a summary of the many contentious statements made by The Idol’s cast and producers during the press tour for the upcoming HBO program, which debuts on June 4.
Actors in Euphoria Oppose N*de Scenes, And One Leaves The Show
There were rumors of drama on the set of Levinson’s popular HBO show Euphoria before The Idol was revealed. The first came from Barbie Ferreira, who abruptly left the show just before the third season’s filming got underway. Her alleged displeasure with Levinson was a cloud hanging over the program.
According to a report from The Daily Beast, Levinson and Ferreira allegedly had on-set tensions that led to her leaving the set. She addressed many of the rumors on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert. “I did not walk off set,” she stated. It was announced in August that she would not join the show again.
Sydney Sweeney, Minka Kelly, Chloe Cherry, and Martha Kelly, four of the show’s actors, have all claimed they resisted the “unnecessary” n*dity in some scenes. Evidently, this was just a prelude to what was to come.
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The Weeknd Responds To The Exposé From Rolling Stone
Tesfaye reacted on social media after Rolling Stone published its article describing the alleged experiences of 13 crew members on set and how drastically the show changed from “satire to the thing it was satirizing.”
In a clip from the program, which Tesfaye included in his tweet, Dan Levy’s character asks Depp’s character to consider, Tesfaye’s character responds, “Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a little irrelevant?” The character played by Depp interjects, saying the publication is “past its prime.” “@RollingStone, did we upset you?” reads the post’s caption.
— Abel Tesfaye (@theweeknd) March 1, 2023
Many users criticized this response on Twitter, calling it “corny” and “misguided.”
The Cannes Film Festival’s world premiere of The Idol
The first two episodes of Levinson’s most recent work were screened for a select audience at Cannes, where they received harsh reviews. Reporters tweeted updates from the press conference for the show with responses from the creators to some of the debates.
Following the screening, Levinson was given a microphone and broke down in tears as he addressed the audience.
Sam Levinson is so choked up he can barely speak after the premiere of “The Idol” at Cannes pic.twitter.com/I5UE4aA0v5
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 22, 2023
Levinson insists that he is positioning himself as a provocateur and that there is nothing wrong with the show he has produced.
The show’s creator responded to a question regarding the Rolling Stone article by saying, “When my wife read me the article, I looked at her, and I said, ‘I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.’” He added that he is aware that “we’re making a show that is provocative.”
Reporter Kyle Buchanan from the New York Times tweeted that Levinson was questioned about how he When asked about this, Levinson said, “Sometimes things that might be revolutionary are taken too far.”
At the press conference for “The Idol,” Sam Levinson is asked how he calibrated the sex scenes without taking things too far. “Sometimes, things that might be revolutionary *are* taken too far,” Levinson replies.
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 23, 2023
During the press conference, Depp came to Levinson’s defense and said, “It’s always a little sad and disheartening to see mean, false things said about someone you care about. It wasn’t reflective at all of my experience,” Variety reports. She said the show has a “revolutionary” use of n*dity.
“We live in a very sexualized world. Especially in the States, the influence of pornography is strong in the psyche of young people. We see this in pop music,” Levinson said at the press conference. “When you have a character who has a strong sense of self and a strong sexual self, you end up underestimating her.”
During the press conference, Tesfaye also mentioned that he and Levinson were creating something “special, something fun, to make people laugh and piss some people off.” When the show is finally released to the public in early June, it remains to be seen how much each response will elicit.
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For almost 4 years, Jason Martin has been a freelance writer for newspapers, journals, blogs, books, and online material. He covers the most recent news as well as many other topics.