Fresh off The Idol’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival — where the reviews were not-so-great, and the ovation only five minutes long — HBO has shared a new trailer for the upcoming series starring Lily-Rose Depp and Abel “the Weeknd” Tesfaye, and helmed by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.
The new clip offers up a 90-second barrage of Hollywood sleaze and toxicity as flailing pop idol Jocelyn (Depp) falls in thrall to Tedros, the skeevy, scheming Svengali played by Tesfaye. It’s all as to be expected, with lots of sex, drugs, and gratuitous slapping (of faces, asses, and countertops).
“You’re not a human being, you’re a star,” Tedros tells Jocelyn at one point. Though the only real nugget of wisdom in the trailer comes from Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s character, who quips of Tedros: “Never trust a dude with a rat tail.”
Back in March, Rolling Stone published an extensive report about The Idol. Interviews with 13 members of the show’s cast and crew revealed claims that the show’s on-set working conditions were often chaotic and that the series had taken a dark turn. One source described some potential scenes as “sexual torture porn,” while another said the show went from “a dark satire of fame and the fame model” to “the thing it was satirizing.”
One production member said: “It was like any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show — and then the woman comes back for more because it makes her music better.”
HBO, as well as the show’s core creative team — Tesfaye, Depp, and Levinson — have pushed back against those allegations in recent interviews, and during a Cannes press conference. “When I read the specifics, however, it just felt completely foreign to me,” Levinson said. “But I know who I am. There’s the work, and there’s the managing of the persona. And that is not interesting to me, because it takes away from the work.”
Levinson also issued the dubious retort, “They’re free to write whatever they want. My only gripe is that they intentionally omitted anything that didn’t fit their narrative. But there’s been a lot of that lately.” (Rolling Stone did, however, include statements from Depp, HBO, and a source close to the production, all of whom defended the series and on-set environment.)
Still, according to Rolling Stone’s reporting, a number of crew members insisted the direction and perspective of The Idol changed drastically after original director Amy Seimetz suddenly left and Levinson stepped in. Levinson’s scripts reportedly contained disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes between Depp and Tesfaye’s characters, three sources told Rolling Stone. As one person put it, “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.”