HBO’s The Idol is now entering the finish line with only one episode left in the season. What co-creators Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye hoped would be “the biggest show of the summer” has failed to meet expectations, with subpar viewership and even worse reception. A lot of the backlash concerns the sexual and explicit nature of the show, which star Lily-Rose Depp has always and continues to defend.
In a recent interview with Vogue Australia, the 24-year-old actress praises The Idol‘s gall in its unabashed depiction of the “highly sexualized world” we live in. However, it’s in that very approach that the disconnect lies between those involved in the making of the show and those watching and reviewing it.
Depp says the nudity was “intentional” and “important,” in the same vein Tesfaye confessed to wanting the show to “piss some people off” while presenting it at Cannes. With The Idol, the trio wanted to shock and cause a reaction in order to bring awareness to the mistreatment of women in the music industry. The result, critics believe, was that, in the process of exposing the pornographic obsession of today’s visual society, they ended up partaking in it and giving it a platform.
Depp knew the show wanted to be “provocative” from the jump. The actress was not “interested in making something puritanical.” According to the bombastic piece published by Rolling Stone ahead of The Idol‘s premiere, Tesfaye reportedly dropped original director Amy Seimetz for focusing too much on Depp’s character and adopting a “feminist lens.” When Sam Levinson stepped in is when the tone of the show changed, morphing into what one of Rolling Stone‘s sources described as “sexual torture porn.”
Whatever the intention was, it’s undeniable that the sexual, sometimes violent nature of a lot of its scenes completely distracts the viewer from any other worthwhile message the show might be trying to convey.
The last episode of The Idol comes out on Max July 3.