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Yikes: The Weeknd’s new show The Idol is HBO’s lowest-rated of all time on Rotten Tomatoes

Published May 24th, 2023 5:38PM EDT
The Idol on HBO
Image: Eddy Chen/HBO

At this point, HBO ought to just change the name of its forthcoming drama The Idol from Euphoria creator Sam Levinson — and which stars The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp — to just The Mess.

From a bombshell Rolling Stone report about turmoil behind the scenes and a toxic environment on set to scathing early reviews (“A Pornhub-homepage odyssey starring Lily-Rose Depp’s areolas”), we can now add perhaps the most devastating cut of all. Ahead of its debut on June 4, The Idol currently holds the dubious distinction of having earned the lowest Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score that an HBO show has ever received.

That score, which stood at just 9% last time I checked, is up to 17% now (but still the worst ever). And honestly, I’m not surprised. This is Sam Levinson we’re talking about here, who’s pretty much the Mozart of sexualizing young women for shock value. Accordingly, The Idol’s abysmally low rating so far is the result of critics describing it as everything from chauvinistic and tawdry to softcore porn and regressive.

On the bright side, though, it’s just in time for HBO Max’s big rebrand to Max, right? With the onus now on presenting consumers with the biggest bundle of content possible, maybe this is a play to appeal to the seedier side of the Max audience (I kid, I kid).

As far as The Idol’s story goes, Depp plays a fame-obsessed popstar wannabe named Jocelyn, who seems to be the embodiment of what one character says the industry has been lacking for too long: A “truly f**king nasty, nasty pop girl.” The Weeknd, meanwhile, plays a sex-mad cult leader named Tedros, and Jocelyn’s proximity to him takes her career and her profile to the next level.

I’m not sure, at this point, what to make of how polarizing the show has proven to be ahead of most people not actually having seen it yet. As I await the Succession series finale coming on Sunday to cap off that show’s almost indescribably masterful Season 4, though, I’m cognizant of the fact that I haven’t been disappointed by a new HBO series in quite a long time. Most likely, with critics like one from the London Evening Standard lamenting that The Idol is basically “sleaze and torture porn,” that’s about to change.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.