Cannes Film Festival Shaken by HBO’s ‘The Idol’: Exploring the Extreme and Sexual in New Series

What does The Weeknd's new series for HBO look like?

Cannes Film Festival Shaken by HBO’s ‘The Idol’: Exploring the Extreme and Sexual in New Series
Juan Carlos Saloz

Juan Carlos Saloz

As it progresses in its transition from HBO Max to Max, the streaming platform continues to move forward with new series that will debut in the platform’s future. And beyond the titanic plan Warner is preparing with the Harry Potter series, the new Lord of the Rings films, and Game of Thrones spin-offs, HBO continues to deliver top-notch original fiction.


Among them is one that has just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received a five-minute standing ovation: The Idol. Created by Sam Levinson, the mastermind behind the successful Zendaya-starring series Euphoria, the show has debuted with a wide range of reviews, but they all agree on one thing: it is extremely intense, highly sexual, and one of HBO‘s most daring endeavors in its entire history.

What do critics think about The Idol?

The Idol follows Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a young pop diva who, after suffering a nervous breakdown during the cancellation of her new tour, decides to reclaim her title as America’s sexiest pop star. To do so, she begins a relationship with Tedros (The Weeknd), who is actually a contemporary cult leader and self-help guru with many secrets.

The idea for the series is not Levinson’s, but The Weeknd’s (Abel Tesfaye) own, who told the showrunner about the idea with the intention of becoming the actor to play the cult leader. Soon, Levinson jumped on board with Reza Fahim, and the three of them got to work on The Idol.

Later, a new director was added to the formula: Amy Seimetz. However, she abandoned it after a short time, not finding “nothing feminist in it”, something that ended with a controversy that has continued to the present day, since among the first reviews of the series there is also much talk about the sexualized role of Lily-Rose Depp.

The series has just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where the first critics have been able to see it and have given it a standing ovation before its premiere on June 4 on HBO Max (which will already be Max in the United States). But what has been the reaction of the public that has been able to see it?

“The Idol,” or 50 SHADES OF TESFAYE: A Pornhub Odyssey starring Lily Rose Depp’s nipples and The Weeknd’s greasy rat tail. I love the idea that this will help HBO Max’s rebranding, it should fit in nicely next to House Hunters!

Yes, THE IDOL has the EUPHORIA vibes you might expect, but it’s really more like someone put BLACK SWAN, SUCCESSION and SECRETARY in a blender and let it rip. Get ready for their whole spiel….

Idol’s premiere has just ended. Sam Levinson’s fans will not be disappointed.

Beyond Twitter, some American portals have dropped their first opinions, although they are not too different from what has emerged in these reviews either. Scott Roxborough of The Hollywood Reporter posts the following:

“This is a more stylized, grown-up version of Euphoria’s second season (…) The Idol shows flashes of potential when it stops trying so hard to be shocking. There’s a vigor to the sex scenes between Depp and Tesfaye that kills any sense of eroticism. It’s a relief when the series moves away from their relationship and focuses on Joceyln’s struggle to make a niche for herself in music.”

Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson has found it not for all audiences:

“Sam Levinson’s treatment is not for everyone and occasionally not for me, but The Idol offers enough classic entertainment to balance its aggressive attention-seeking and the bravado of its thematic ambitions. Just don’t approach the first two episodes with the idea that you’re about to see something surprising and transgressive.”

Deadline‘s Damon Wise has this to say:

“[With only two episodes] it’s hard to make value judgments about morality and ethics, or, more substantively, about the criticisms regarding the male gaze and the rights of the female body that are bearing down on The Idol. However, it turns out that Depp is driven, to put it mildly, to a highly sexualized performance that is also grounded, and often vulnerable, for unnervingly addressing the fine lines between pornography, art, power and exploitation that young women in the music industry have faced for years.”


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Juan Carlos Saloz

Juan Carlos Saloz

Cultural journalist specialized in film, series, comics, video games, and everything your parents tried to keep you away from during your childhood. Also an aspiring film director, screenwriter, and professional troublemaker.

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