Cannes Critics Unenthused with HBO’s ‘The Idol’ Premiere

HBO’s new highly anticipated series, “The Idol,” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this Monday and left critics shocked and disturbed.

The show is meant to tell the story of a struggling pop star, played by Lily Rose Depp, who falls under the spell of a cult leader, played by The Weeknd. The first two episodes of the series that were debuted at Cannes earned a 5-minute long standing ovation from the crowd, but a mere 14% on the Tomatometer from Rotten Tomatoes critics.

While making “The Idol,” production had been delayed quite a few times due to internal disagreements among the production team. Amy Seimetz, of “The Girlfriend Experience,” was originally directing the series but abruptly quit the project, leaving Euphoria’s director Sam Levinson to take over.

Once Seimetz left the project, Levinson allegedly heavily revised the vision for the show, amping up the amount of nudity and borderline disturbing sexual content. A production member told Rolling Stone that “it was like any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show — and then the woman comes back for more because it makes her music better.”

In line with the production member’s opinion, Rolling Stone critic David Fear said that “the double-dose the festival screened felt nasty, brutish, much longer than it is, and way, way worse than you’d have anticipated. It has mistaken misery for profundity, stock perversity for envelope-pushing, crude caricatures for sharp satire, toxicity for complexity, nipple shots for screen presence.”

David Fear’s critique was not the only review of this nature. Caspar Salmon from The Daily Beast said, “The show’s sleaze (intentional and not) would be one thing, but it’s the hideous, self-excusing presentation of rape culture that rankles.” Peter Debruge from Variety said that the script “seems calculated to fool audiences into thinking they’re observing how Hollywood operates, when so much of it amounts to the tawdry cliches lifted from Sidney Sheldon novels and softcore porn.”

Critics are stunned and disturbed by the premiere episodes of the series; from the filming to the script itself, “The Idol” may not be the fan favorite show of the summer as it was expected to be. Only time will tell whether audiences will agree with the critics, or approve of the work done by Levinson, The Weeknd & Reza Fahim. “The Idol” is still set to premiere on HBO on June 4th.

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