The Idol premieres at the Cannes Film Festival and the early reactions are eyebrow-raising, to say the least. Co-created by Euphoria‘s Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, the series centers on a troubled pop star (played by Lily-Rose Depp) who falls into the clutches of a cult leader played by The Weeknd. The supporting cast includes Red Rocket‘s Suzanna Son, Troye Sivan, Schitt’s Creek‘s Dan Levy, and Shiva Baby‘s Rachel Sennott. Months before its premiere, The Idol has been the subject of controversy due to an array of behind-the-scenes issues.


The Idol premiered at the Cannes Film Festival ahead of its HBO debut next month and despite receiving a five-minute standing ovation, the first reactions to the show range from divisive to downright scandalous. Even by HBO standards, the show features a shocking amount of nudity and sexual content involving Depp. One reaction dubbed the series “50 SHADES OF TESFAYE: A Pornhub-homepage odyssey” while another called it an amalgam of “Black Swan, Succession, and Secretary.” Check out a few of the early reactions below:

The Idol Reactions Continues The Show’s Controversial Streak

Lily Rose Depp Jocelyn The Idol dancing

The early reactions to The Idol coming out of Cannes shouldn’t be the least bit surprising considering everything that’s known about Levinson and his new HBO show. Euphoria is similarly the subject of controversy due to its mature subject matter and sexual content. In March, a report about The Idol‘s troubled production detailed a poor working environment, last-minute script rewrites, and budgetary issues. Original director Amy Seimetz exited in the middle of production and was replaced by Levinson. Reports claim The Weeknd shifted the show away from the female perspective, though the pop star has denied those claims.

Related: 5 Big Ways The Idol Will Be Different From Euphoria

HBO claims the director change was made because the creative approach did not meet their standards, and Depp spoke out in defense of Levinson, saying she always felt “supported” and “respected.” Though HBO and the cast have done their best to dispel notions of a troubled production, the scandalous reactions to The Idol are exactly what was expected given the report that described the show as “twisted torture porn.” With The Idol premiering June 4 on HBO, audiences will soon be able to watch and make up their own minds about Levinson and The Weeknd’s controversial new show.

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