"The Idol"'s Fifth and Final Episode Is Coming Sunday: What to Know
It feels like "The Idol" just got started, but we're already at the conclusion. On July 2, the series, which stars Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd (billed as his real name, Abel Tesfaye), will air the last episode of the first season, and it's not clear if the pop music-themed series will get a second installment.
"The Idol," which comes from "Euphoria"'s Sam Levinson and The Weeknd, also stars Dan Levy, Blackpink's Jennie Kim under the stage name Jennie Ruby Jane, Rachel Sennott, Hari Nef, Hank Azaria, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph. The series premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this May. Back in March, Rolling Stone published an investigation into "The Idol"'s behind-the-scenes drama, in which crew members claimed that the show moved in a disturbing new direction thanks to Levinson.
For his part, The Weeknd has remained vocal about the series on Twitter, swiping back at critics and viewers. When someone asked their followers for a thread on why the show is "bad," he retweeted them and wrote, "someone hurry please tell me why I hate something everyone is telling me to hate … hurry before I come up with my own opinion." When another said the show was going to ruin The Weeknd's music for them, he wrote back, "good don't listen."
Read ahead for everything else to know about "The Idol."
— Additional reporting by Sabienna Bowman and Eden Arielle Gordon.
"The Idol" Plot
"After a nervous breakdown derailed Jocelyn's (Depp) last tour, she's determined to claim her rightful status as the greatest and sexiest pop star in America," the drama's logline reads, per HBO. "Her passions are reignited by Tedros (The Weeknd), a nightclub impresario with a sordid past. Will her romantic awakening take her to glorious new heights or the deepest and darkest depths of her soul?"
In the first five episodes of the show, viewers have learned about Jocelyn's abusive relationship with her mom, who died shortly before the events of the series. As she gets pulled further into Tedros's orbit, her team tries to scheme at how to get her out of his world.
"The Idol" Cast
Depp plays a pop singer, Jocelyn, while The Weeknd stars as a club owner who is also the leader of the show's cult.
Levy plays Benjamin, Jocelyn's publicist, and Nef has a small role as a Vanity Fair writer, Talia. Kim plays Dyanne, Jocelyn's backup dancer with aspirations of her own; viewers learn that she's also a member of Tedros's cult. Sennott plays Jocelyn's assistant and best friend Leia. Azaria and Randolph are Chaim and Destiny, Jocelyn's co-managers. Troye Sivan plays Xander, Jocelyn's childhood friend who now works as her creative director. Suzanna Son is Chloe, another singer who's a member of Tedros's cult. Moses Sumney's Izaak is another follower, as is the character played by Ramsey. Producer Mike Dean cameos as himself.
"The Idol" Production Team
"The Idol" has undergone a number of changes since Variety reported about its creative overhaul on April 25, 2022. Per the outlet, original director Amy Seimetz exited the show amid creative differences. Days following the news, Deadline noted that actor Suzanna Son would not return to the project either. HBO did not comment on which other cast and crew members left the production. However, the network did address the new adjustments in a statement.
"'The Idol''s creative team continues to build, refine, and evolve their vision for the show and they have aligned on a new creative direction," an HBO spokesperson said, per Deadline. "The production will be adjusting its cast and crew accordingly to best serve this new approach to the series. We look forward to sharing more information soon."
Soon after these changes, Levinson was brought in. He serves as cocreator alongside The Weeknd and Reza Fahim; The trio are also executive producers in addition to Kevin Turen, Ashley Levinson, Aaron Gilbert for BRON, and Sara E. White. Levinson directs and writes with The Weeknd and Fahim.
Rolling Stone's Investigation Into "The Idol"
According to Rolling Stone , Levinson scrapped Seimetz's nearly finished version of the show — which had cost between $54 million and $75 million — and embarked on a complete rewrite and reshoot. Per the outlet's interviews with production members, the show became much more disturbing and violent under Levinson's direction. "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," a source said of the new cocreator's changes. Insiders also claimed that Levinson's scripts contained a number of physically and sexually violent scenes between Depp's and The Weeknd's characters, which one crew member described as "sexual torture porn." Apparently, some of the most violent scenes were never filmed.
Production members also told Rolling Stone that many cast members were let go and many crew members did not return for Levinson's remake, describing the shift as "very scarring." While Levinson did bring on many new stars, including Kim, a crew member said the Blackpink member's role is "like three or four lines per episode" and claimed, "Her job was to sit there [and] look pretty, basically."
Meanwhile, while Seimetz's production had been reportedly hectic, under Levinson's direction, "There was always this sense of chaos because [we] never had a plan on what was going to happen today, or tomorrow, or the next scene," a crew member said.
According to Deadline, some of the changes were initiated by The Weeknd, who reportedly was not happy with the state of the show under Seimetz. Sources said he felt the show was leaning too much into a "female perspective" with costar Depp's character rather than his own. (Reps for The Weeknd did not respond to POPSUGAR's request for comment on the report.)
Elsewhere, a production member told Rolling Stone that The Weeknd "wanted one show that was all about him" and "Sam was on board with that," though sources also told the outlet that the singer's tight schedule had made it difficult to feature him at the center of the show's narrative while Seimetz was spearheading the project.
In a statement provided to POPSUGAR, Depp defended Levinson, calling him "the best director" she had worked with and said she'd never "felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input, and opinions more valued." A rep for HBO told POPSUGAR that "the creative team has been committed to creating a safe, collaborative, and mutually respectful working environment, and last year, the team made creative changes they felt were in the best interest of both the production and the cast and crew."
HBO's rep also noted that a TMZ report — which claims that HBO and The Weeknd are happy with Levinson's leadership, and which also denies that The Weeknd criticized the show's focus on a "female perspective" — presents an "accurate" portrayal of what's really going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, shortly after the Rolling Stone article was published, The Weeknd shared a clip of himself and Depp (in character) making fun of Rolling Stone on Instagram, along with the caption, "@rollingstone, did we upset you?"
Reps for Levinson did not respond to POPSUGAR's request for comment on the Rolling Stone report.
"The Idol" Season Finale Release Date
"The Idol"'s fifth and final episode premieres July 2 on HBO and Max.
"The Idol" Soundtrack
The Weeknd released the first song from the soundtrack, "Double Fantasy," on April 21. The four-and-a-half-minute track also features Future. The song's music video is made of clips from the show, heavily featuring both Depp and The Weeknd in character.
Originally, the show was going to have a full soundtrack "The Idol, Vol. 1." Instead, each episode has released its own EP on streaming. Episode one features the main theme and Depp singing "World Class Sinner." Episode two's soundtrack features Son singing "Family" and "Double Fantasy." Episode three has two songs from the Weeknd and one from Sumney. Episode four features three collaborations between the Weeknd and different members of the cast.
"The Idol" Trailer
"The Idol" Teaser Trailer 2
HBO released the second teaser trailer in August 2022.
"The Idol" Teaser Trailer 1
HBO released the first teaser trailer in July 2022.