Since HBO first announced it in late 2021, The Idol has generated a tremendous amount of controversy, with reports of on-set dysfunction, cast and crew shakeups, and a major creative overhaul coming one after the other. One thing we now know for sure: The series, from Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and The Weeknd, will premiere on June 4. And as a new trailer reveals, it’s going to lean into provoking viewers.
Troye Sivan’s character sets the tone when he asks—as Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” plays—“When was the last truly fucking nasty bad pop girl?” Much glitz and sleaze follows, as we see Lily-Rose Depp’s rising pop star Jocelyn become enmeshed with The Weeknd’s club owner-slash-cult leader Tedros. Filled with neon lights, revealing shots of Depp’s body, and a cornucopia of drugs and alcohol, the clip looks a lot like, well, Euphoria.
An investigation published by Rolling Stone in March alleged a toxic work environment on set at The Idol, with sources revealing that the series changed dramatically when Levinson took over from original director Amy Seimetz, who had completed approximately 80 percent of the series. The show, these sources said, went from being about a young woman struggling against the sinister forces of the entertainment industry to a glorification of the depraved, destructive romance between its two lead characters.
“What I signed up for was a dark satire of fame and the fame model in the 21st century. The things that we subject our talent and stars to, the forces that put people in the spotlight and how that can be manipulated in the post-Trump world,” a source said. “It went from satire to the thing it was satirizing.”
The new teaser does briefly showcases some of the show’s supporting cast, including Rachel Sennott, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dan Levy and Hank Azaria. The show also features a handful of music stars other than the Weeknd: Sivan, singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, producer Mike Dean, and TV on the Radio singer Tunde Adebimpe.. The Idol will debut at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the out-of-competition slate.
The Idol will be one of the first major shows to premiere on Max, as HBO Max will be known starting on May 23.