The Idol backlash

How Euphoria creator’s new HBO show has gone ‘disgustingly off the rails’

The Idol’s script was described as ‘like a rape fantasy’

Sam Levinson, the creator of Euphoria, has faced huge backlash after 13 sources from the set of the show told Rolling Stone how The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp starring The Idol has become a “shitshow” full of “torture porn” and female objectification. The show was initially meant to be about female sexuality and satirising and condemning the dark nature of Hollywood, but after rewrites and walkouts from crew the show has allegedly morphed into something more sinister entirely. Here’s all the backlash around Sam Levinson’s new show The Idol explained.

The original director left the show

Originally, The Idol was being directed by Amy Seimetz, who left the project in April 2022 after apparently being “set up to fail” with unfinished scripts and a short space of time to get a show finished with Euphoria level expectations. She left the show and Sam Levinson came in and took over and started it all from scratch.

“I went into The Idol thinking that this might be an interesting collaboration, but I left it pretty convinced that [Levinson] is not quite collaborative,” one source told Rolling Stone. “It’s really frustrating seeing Amy doing her damn best to turn around some kind of product that she can be somewhat proud of to HBO… and then [for HBO] to turn around and have Sam get essentially a blank check to turn it into ‘Euphoria Season Three with pop stars’ is extremely, extremely frustrating.”

The Weeknd allegedly was unhappy with Amy Seimetz vision for the show, because he felt it leant too much into the “female perspective”. Since he’s credited as its star, co-creator and co-writer he wanted less focus on Lily-Rose Depp’s character and Sam Levinson was reportedly fine with doing away with the “feminist lens” of The Idol.

“It was like the Weeknd wanted one show that was all about him—Sam was on board with that,” a source told Rolling Stone.

‘Rape fantasy’

TW: Sexual assault themes and abuse.

Once Sam Levinson took the reins of the show, the sources told Rolling Stone that the explicit content ramped up with daily script changes. The scripts from Sam Levinson allegedly contained extremely disturbing and violent content that never ended up being filmed, but one centred around Depp’s character begging The Weeknd’s to be raped after she was tasked to hold an egg inside her genitals and another where she was beaten by a cult leader who gets an erection.

“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,” said one of the sources to Rolling Stone, with another saying “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.”

This isn’t the first time Sam Levinson’s been criticised for gratuitous nudity and hardcore content – Sydney Sweeney pushed back against some scenes he wanted her to do in Euphoria.  “It’s almost such an extreme that it’s like, there is no message,” one crew member says during the backlash towards The Idol. “There is no point. They’re just trying to see how much of a reaction they can get.”

What have HBO said in regards to The Idol backlash and allegations

In a statement to Rolling Stone, HBO said “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.” Also, Lily-Rose Depp said Sam Levinson is the best director she’s ever worked with.

The Weeknd responded to the article with a clip from The Idol which features his, Lily-Rose Depp and Dan Levy’s characters discussing a cover for Rolling Stone and with The Weeknd calling the publication irrelevant.

There’s currently no release date set for The Idol.

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