The latest HBO show from the creator of "Euphoria" is turning out to be as controversial as expected.
"The Idol," the new Sam Levinson series starring Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd, premiered its first two episodes at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday after facing backlash months before it even debuted. In March, Rolling Stone reported that the show had been "plagued by delays, reshoots, and rewrites" after its director exited, and the reshoots allegedly turned the series into a "rape fantasy" and "sexual torture porn."
Based on the first reviews, it sounds like that wasn't far off. Depp plays a young pop star in the series, while The Weeknd plays the leader of a cult. According to Vulture, one of the early plots involves a selfie of Depp's character with semen on her face leaking, which causes her to be described as a "human cum sock," and viewers see this selfie on screen. Depp's "naked, and near-naked, breasts are on constant display," and there are sex scenes that are graphic "even by HBO standards," the Los Angeles Times reported. Vulture also said one scene "feels like faint rape-fantasy porn."
At The Playlist, critic Robert Daniels panned the show as "crude, gross, and sexist," a "failed attempt at being transgressive" plagued by a "shockingly inert script" and "atrocious" sex scenes. The Weeknd "is also a terrible actor," Daniels added. Variety's Peter Debruge, meanwhile, said the show "plays like a sordid male fantasy" and that Depp's character is treated in a "shameful" way, while The Hollywood Reporter's Lovia Gyarkye said it "makes you wonder if in trying so hard to be transgressive, the show ultimately becomes regressive." The Playlist's Gregory Ellwood also tweeted that the second episode is "sexist" and "pseudo-porn."
Still, the premiere received a five-minute standing ovation at Cannes. In a press conference, Levinson defended the show by saying that "sometimes things that might be revolutionary are taken too far." He also said that after his wife read him the Rolling Stone report, "I looked at her and I just said, 'I think we're about to have the biggest show of the summer.'"