The Idol is a "Pornhub-homepage odyssey" and "regressive", according to first reactions

Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye in The Idol
(Image credit: HBO)

The first two episodes of new HBO series The Idol premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and the show has provoked strong reactions on the Croisette. It stars Lily-Rose Depp as Jocelyn, a pop star attempting to get back on her feet after grief and heartbreak prompted a nervous breakdown and a canceled tour. However, things start to deviate from the carefully plotted plan of her team when she meets Tedros (Abel Tesfaye, AKA The Weeknd), a nightclub owner and self-help guru. 

Co-created by Tesfaye, Euphoria showrunner Sam Levinson, and Reza Fahim, the supporting cast includes Hank Azaria, Rachel Sennott, Troye Sivan, and Hari Nef, and reports from Cannes say the opening two episodes include abundant nudity, masturbation, and revenge porn.

"The Idol, or 50 SHADES OF TESFAYE: A Pornhub-homepage odyssey starring Lily-Rose Depp’s areolas and The Weeknd’s greasy rat tail," tweeted critic Kyle Buchanan after the episodes premiered. "Love that this will help launch the HBO Max rebrand, should slot nicely next to House Hunters!"

Meanwhile, The i's Christina Newland calls the series "one of the most unapologetically chauvinistic, superficially glossy, try-hard-provocative pieces of media in recent memory." The Hollywood Reporter's Lovia Gyarkye says that, like the polarizing second season of Euphoria, the series "runs almost exclusively on vibes." She continues that it "makes you wonder if in trying so hard to be transgressive, the show ultimately becomes regressive."

Variety's Peter Debruge has similar sentiments, writing that the script "seems calculated to fool audiences into thinking they’re observing how Hollywood operates, when so much of it amounts to tawdry clichés lifted from Sidney Sheldon novels and softcore porn." 

The Idol arrives on premieres on June 4 on HBO and its recently rebranded streaming service, Max. In the meantime, take a look at our picks of the most highly anticipated new TV shows in 2023 and beyond.

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.