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The Weeknd’s controversial HBO series ‘The Idol’ canceled after one season

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Eddy Chen/HBO

HBO’s The Idol, co-created and executive-produced by and starring The Weeknd, has been canceled after one season.

In a statement, a spokesman for HBO told ABC Audio, “The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response. 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.”

The Idol — starring Lily-Rose Depp as Jocelyn, a pop star who falls under the influence of Tedros, a cult leader played by The Weeknd — was highly controversial even before it premiered.  A March 2023 Rolling Stone article described the set as toxic, and the series’ content as “twisted torture porn.” 

Indeed, Variety’s initial review of the show said it “plays like a sordid male fantasy,” and it scored a unimpressive 19% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ratings meanwhile, started off strong, with the first episode racking up seven million viewers, but then fell off from there.

Season 1 lasted just five episodes, down from a planned six-episode run. There have been rumors about its fate ever since it concluded on July 2.  HBO says the creators didn’t have a specific plan for more than one season, though they left “options open” for a potential second season.

The original music that The Weeknd created for the series was released as six separate EPs. One of the songs, “Double Fantasy,” featuring Future, was a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  Another song, “Popular,” featuring The Weeknd, Madonna and Playboy Carti, became Madonna’s first Hot 100 entry in eight years, and only the second woman to have a Hot 100 hit across five different decades.

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