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Max's 'The Idol' Will Be the Show of the Summer For Better, or More Likely, For Worse

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 23, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 23, 2023 |


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Before the series screened its first episode, HBO’s The Idol had already attracted a number of controversial headlines: Director Amy Seimetz exited and was replaced amid rumors that her version of the series centered too much on the female lead, played by Lily-Rose Depp. Those rumors turned out to be untrue — the real reason Seimetz was replaced is that she was dealt a bad hand with late scripts, a limited schedule, and a chaotic shoot. Levinson didn’t like the finished product and decided to rewrite and reshoot it as the director himself. Obviously. Based on a Rolling Stone report, the set was allegedly a toxic one, and the end product is “like sexual torture porn.” We have since seen a couple of scuzzy trailers, and the show looks like it smells like the bedroom of a roommate who chain-smokes, hasn’t showered in a week, and is always having sex.

Alas, the show is going to be huge. In fact, asked about it at Cannes, Sam Levinson said that his wife read to him the behind-the-scenes Rolling Stone article about the toxic set. “I looked at her and I said, ‘I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.’”

He’s not wrong. People are going to watch out of morbid curiosity, and for the critical community, The Idol is going to be a think-piece click machine.

Will it be good? I doubt that it matters. Variety, in describing the series, has already given the show all the promotion it will ever need. It’s about “a pop phenom coming off of a psychotic break after the death of her mother,” but also somehow definitely not inspired by Britney Spears, although the Weeknd’s character is inspired by … Dracula. What else can we expect?

Revenge porn photos of bodily fluids on Depp’s face, masturbation with ice cubes, nightclub-owning scam artists and vile Hollywood sycophants populated the first two episodes of the already-controversial series.

The critical reaction out of Cannes, where the first two episodes aired, has not been kind but the level of reaction has been strong. It’s been described as a bad combination of Black Swan, Succession, and Secretary and “sexist, pseudo-porn.” It obviously got a 5-minute standing ovation. Levinson had to choke back tears.

He cried. Because of the reaction to this show?

The confounding reality, however, is that Max is going to have to buy another server farm to keep their streamer from melting down when it airs. It premieres on June 4th.