HBO's new series "The Idol" has been at the center of various controversies during its production process and post-airing reviews. These controversies stem from criticisms of the show's creative approach, sexual content, and troubles during the production process. Also at the center of the controversy is the show's portrayal of its main female characters, which some critics have suggested is demeaning to women.
The Idol centers on the relationship between The Weeknd (credited as Abel Tesfaye) as a self-help guru and cult leader and Lily-Rose Depp, a pop star trying to reinvigorate her career. However, the show has received much criticism due to its sexual subject matter and portrayal of a central female character. Some critics have accused the show of undermining its female characters with its sexual subject matter and over-reliance on shock value.
Variety described the show as "an obscene male fantasy" and described Levinson's treatment of Depp's character as "shameful" and full of "demotion and anguish."
The series has also been the center of great controversy during its production process. Amy Seimetz, an early director of the series, left the project after Levinson and The Weeknd decided on a new creative direction. At this point, the show was reportedly already about 80% filmed, as it was felt that it was too heavily biased toward a "female point of view."
Additionally, the series was also talked about the chaos and controversial scenes in its production process; a Rolling Stone article, based on testimony from 13 anonymous cast and crew members, said the show included physically and sexually violent scenes, some compared to "torture porn." included claims that delays, reshoots, and differences in vision between Seimetz, Levinson, and The Weeknd created a confusing work environment.
Viewers and critics have been divided on the series. The Idol premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received a five-minute standing ovation, a rarity for a television show to be selected for this prestigious festival. On the other hand, however, the series received a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with several reviews criticizing its "salacious" approach to sexual content.
The Idol has caused a great deal of controversy due to its challenging subject matter, sexual depictions, and problems with the production process. There have been mixed reactions from viewers and critics alike, which may affect the future course of the series and its reception.