Per the official HBO synopsis, “The Idol” is the story of an up-and-coming popstar (played by Lily Rose-Depp) who is drawn to an enigmatic cult leader and begins a turbulent romance. But according to those close to the production, it’s less of a darkly romantic tale and more akin to “sexual torture porn.” HBO marketed the show as coming from the “sick and twisted minds” behind the “sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood” and evidently, we should’ve taken those words very seriously.
The Rolling Stone sources allege that Sam Levinson’s revisions increased the disturbing sexual content and nudity to surpass that of “Euphoria,” which weakened the thematic weight the series once held. Once pitched as a story about “a troubled starlet falling victim to a predatory industry figure and fighting to reclaim her own agency,” the story instead became a “degrading love story with a hollow message.”
“It went from satire to the thing it was satirizing,” explained one production member. “What I signed up for was a dark satire of fame and the fame model in the 21st century. The things that we subject our talent and stars to, the forces that put people in the spotlight, and how that can be manipulated in the post-Trump world.”
As originally presented, the show seems a perfect fit for Amy Seimetz, whose past projects more that prove her ability to bring nuance to a story with such complex power dynamics. But Abel Tesfaye felt the show needed an overhaul because it was heading too much into a “female perspective.”