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Has HBO’s ‘The Idol’ been canceled?

It was off, it was on, what's actually going on?

the idol
Image via HBO

If the goal of The Idol was to spark controversy, then it’s already one of the most successful shows of all time. HBO’s show biz drama has was widely panned by critics and audiences during its five-episode run, with many singling out its tepid performances, cliched writing, and surface level criticisms about celebrity and the music industry.

The show proved so polarizing, in fact, that a report from the New York Post claimed that it would be canceled. HBO released a statement denying the claim, but now that the dust has settled, and the writers/actors strikes are ongoing in Hollywood, the network has indeed decided to pull the plug.

Will The Idol return for a second season?

Image via HBO

The Idol will not be returning for a second season on HBO. The network broke the news on Monday, in a statement that spoke highly of the work that the cast and creator Sam Levinson put into the first season.

The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” an HBO spokesperson wrote. “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.”

While the aforementioned critical bashing the show took definitely hurt its chances for renewal, it wasn’t the only reason. There have been, after all, numerous shows that have stayed on the air for years despite being criticized for a lack of quality (Riverdale, for example, managed to stick around for a staggering seven seasons).

The bigger issue seemed to be ratings. The premiere drew a solid 913,000 viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but the second episode dipped 12 percent and only drew 800,000 viewers. This was the exact opposite of what happened with Levinson’s other HBO show, Euphoria, which debuted to steady ratings that increased over the course of the first season. By the time The Idol got to its season finale, Showbiz 411 reports that it was drawing in less than 200,000 viewers.

This decline led many to speculate that the show was supposed to have six episodes instead of five, but this was debunked by Decider. While the show was originally announced to have six episodes, Levinson decided to condense it upon assuming creative control. “The season was changed from six episodes to five episodes when Sam took over in 2022,” a source told the outlet. “Five episodes is what his version of the story required.”

While none of the people involved with The Idol have spoken on the cancellation, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, one of the stars, took to Twitter to thank fans for their support. “Grateful to share this moment with you all as the season comes to an end,” he wrote the night of the finale. “Continue to push the vision no matter how bumpy the journey. Jocelyn Forever.”

Danilo Castro
About the author

Danilo Castro

Danilo Castro is an entertainment writer based in San Diego. He's contributed to publications like Screen Rant, PopMatters and FanSided. When he's not covering the latest film news, he's the managing editor for Noir City Magazine.