There won’t be a comeback for The Idol.
HBO won’t move ahead with a second season of the drama from Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, who also starred. The series, starring Lily-Rose Depp as a pop star who falls under the sway of a Hollywood club owner (Tesfaye), suffered mostly negative reviews from critics, and viewership fell short of some other recent HBO shows.
“The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” an HBO spokesperson said in a statement. “After much thought and consideration, HBO, as well as the creators and producers have decided not to move forward with a second season. We’re grateful to the creators, cast, and crew for their incredible work.”
A decision on whether to renew or cancel The Idol was in flux until recently, sources say. There was no set plan for a multi-season story, though there were options to continue the show following the end of the five-episode season.
“I know this was never scheduled to be a limited series.” co-star Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who was added as part of of a creative overhaul spearheaded by Levinson, told The Hollywood Reporter after the finale aired.
Of that finale, THR critic Lovia Gyarkye wrote that it “felt like the conclusion to an altogether different show.” Gyarkye also noted that “There’s an unintentional aimlessness to the series, which contradicts its projected confidence.”
Created by Levinson, Tesfaye and Reza Fahim, The Idol took a tortuous path to HBO. Midway through production in April 2022, the series underwent wholesale changes that saw director and executive producer Amy Seimetz and several castmembers leave, with extensive reshoots. Levinson ended up directing the entire season and was credited with the teleplays for all five episodes, as well.
In March, three months ahead of the series premiere, a Rolling Stone story detailed a litany of issues with the production, from last-minute rewrites to what some members of the production felt like was an overemphasis on the toxic relationship between Depp’s and Tesfaye’s characters. HBO and the show’s team pushed back at the allegations, with Tesfaye calling the reports “ridiculous.”
After a premiere screening at the Cannes Film Festival in May, The Idol made its HBO debut on June 4, pulling in 913,000 viewers across all platforms for its premiere night. The audience for the first episode grew to 3.6 million after a week, but first night ratings for subsequent episodes fell off some. HBO says that in the 85 days since the series premiere, the first episode has grown to 7 million viewers, but it hasn’t released a figure for the full five-episode run.
The Idol, which debuted with a high-profile premiere at Cannes, marks a relatively rare one-and-done for HBO, joining the likes of John From Cincinnati, horse racing drama Luck, music industry series Vinyl, Alan Ball’s Here and Now and more recently, Lovecraft Country and Joss Whedon’s The Nevers.
Levinson, Tesfaye and Fahim executive produced The Idol with Joe Epstein, Kevin Turen, Aaron Gilbert for Bron, Ashley Levinson, Nick Hall, Sara E. White and A24.
Additional reporting by Lesley Goldberg.