The World Class Sinner is heading to an early grave. “The Idol,” Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s controversial HBO drama, has been canceled after just one season, IndieWire has confirmed.
“The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” an HBO spokesperson said in a statement to IndieWire. “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.”
The news comes almost two months after the show’s one-and-only season, which premiered in June, wrapped after five controversy-ridden episodes. But even before it premiered, Levinson and Tesfaye’s series about the romance between a pop star and a cult leader received considerable attention, due to several allegations of a troubled development process.
In April 2022, the two creators allegedly fired Amy Seimetz, the filmmaker initially hired to direct every episode of the series, in the middle of production. Reports at the time alleged that the decision was made due to the Weeknd disagreeing with Seimetz’s vision for the show, which focused more extensively on the perspective of the female lead Jocelyn (played by Lily-Rose Depp). Levinson took over as director, and the series was delayed considerably from its intended Fall 2022 launch. In March, Rolling Stone released a report alleging a toxic environment on the show’s set, which HBO denied.
When the series finally premiered, it received largely negative reviews, and despite its considerable hype, middling ratings (913,000 across linear and streaming) that were neither disastrous nor exceptional. Ratings fell by 12 percent in its second episode, and HBO did not publicly share ratings information for the remaining five episodes of the series’ run.
Shortly after the show’s premiere, a Page Six story claimed that HBO had already made a decision not to renew the series, which representatives for the channel denied. In an interview with Variety in June, cast member Da’Vine Joy Randolph said “everyone’s intention” with the show was for a second season to be produced.
“The Idol” starred Depp and Tesfaye, with Randolph, Blackpink member Jennie Suzanna Son, Troye Sivan, Jane Adams, Rachel Sennott, Dan Levy, and Hank Azaria in supporting roles. Tesfaye and Levinson created the series with Reza Fahim, and the three executive produce with Kevin Turen, Ashley Levinson, Sara E. White, Joe Epstein, and Aaron Gilbert.