For a show that has been called according to sources via IndieWire, we’re not even surprised that The Idol is getting absolutely trashed by critics. The Sam Levinson project has been delayed multiple times and Rolling Stone even published an article where a source said, “It was like sexual torture porn.” And the scripts apparently contained “disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes” between the leads Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd. And we can’t forget Levinson being completely ignorant of the disturbing nature of his work and saying “we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.”
But now…the reviews are in. And they are savage.
David Fear from Rolling Stone called it, “Nasty, brutish, [feels] much longer than it is, and way, way worse than you’d have anticipated.” And they have little nuggets like “Stop trying to cock-block America!” to show how edgy they are while commenting on how this show felt like Levinson was holding a personal grudge.
Jo-Ann Titmarsh from London Evening Standard, “We realize that sexiness is absent in The Idol, for all Depp’s loveliness. Instead, it feels more like sleaze and torture porn.” Rory Doherty from Paste Magazine said, “In The Idol, the substance-through-style is just as phoney, uninspired and manipulative as the corporate machinations of the music industry Jocelyn is trapped by.”
And that’s not all. Others kept the train going.
Caspar Salmon from The Daily Beast said, “The show’s sleaze (intentional and not) would be one thing, but it’s the hideous, self-excusing presentation of rape culture that rankles.” Robbie Collin from Daily Telegraph came for the music and said, “Even the music is dreadful.” With my favorite being from Collider, Therese Lacson, “What Levinson perceives as provocative and subversive is rather underwhelming. How can a show with so much nudity, sex, and eroticism be so bland?”
Altogether, this makes one thing abundantly clear, The Idol is an overhyped hot mess. It has spent way too much time riding the coat-tails of it being prestige writing that criticizes Hollywood. And its flopping feels like the natural evolution of a project that has been plagued with problems and called a shit show by many. But who knows, maybe when it drops, audiences will have a different perspective. Until then, these reviews hurt. But knowing Hollywood, this won’t hurt the director’s career at all.
The Idol will premiere on June 4 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and be available to stream on Max.