The Weeknd’s HBO show “The Idol” facing backlash for its chaotic creative process

[Image courtesy of Variety]

By Grace Koennecke, Columns Editor

Back in August, the trailer for HBO’s new show The Idol dropped on YouTube, starring prominent celebrities such as Grammy Award-winning singer The Weeknd, also known as Abel Tesfaye, and model and actress Lily Rose-Depp. Since then, the show earned the attention and curiosity of Tesfaye’s followers because of his co-collaboration with Euphoria’s Sam Levinson, who has received backlash for his directorial style.

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As of early this week, Rolling Stone announced an investigation of the HBO show after abrupt changes in staff and creative direction occurred, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct on set, came to the surface. According to one source from the publication, certain scenes in the series amounted to “sexual torture porn.” 

Another source said, “It was a show about a woman who was finding herself sexually, turned into a show about a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it.” Meanwhile, two other sources told Rolling Stone that Tesfaye pushed for rewrites to the script, limiting its “feminist lens” by reducing focus on Depp’s character.

Five sources also reported to Rolling Stone that in May of 2022 after a break in production, most of the crew and staff members did not return, with Levinson replacing them with well-known actors such as Dan Levy and Rachel Sennott. 

Tesfaye and Levinson have not commented on these allegations, but the singer did take to his social media accounts to post a clip from the series, which said, “@RollingStone did we upset you?” In the clip, The Weeknd’s character tells Depp to turn down a cover shoot with the publication, calling it “irrelevant.”

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