Consider Jocelyn’s days of world-class sinning to be no longer. A second season of HBO’s The Idol, starring The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp as power-tripping pop figures, is officially dead at the network, an HBO spokesperson confirmed to Vanity Fair on Monday.
“The Idol was one of HBO’s most provocative original programs, and we’re pleased by the strong audience response,” the network spokesperson said in a statement. “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 Sam Levinson–created series, which courted controversy for its sex-cult subject matter and alleged behind-the-scenes drama, yielded just five episodes. It came with a reported $54 million–$75 million price tag, undoubtedly making it one of TV’s more expensive experiments. Although ratings didn’t exactly soar and critics largely shrugged, search interest for The Idol spiked by 1,134% after the show’s debut at the Cannes Film Festival, according to a report of Google Search data by JeffBet. Research conducted by Parrot Analytics and reported by the Los Angeles Times found that audience demand for the show was more than 20 times higher than the demand for the average series. “Traditional ratings have been dismal, which suggests that people are more interested in posting about how bad The Idol is than they are in actually watching it,” wrote the LA Times.
And yet the show could never outpace the negative buzz surrounding it. As Jane Adams, who played label executive Nikki Katz on the series, told VF, “What is amazing to me is no one’s listening—I’ve not seen that before in all my days, such a dogged ‘We refuse to change the narrative.’ I especially want to say to all the feminists, ‘Go fuck yourself.’ All these women that I’m working with are talking about their experience and you’re not listening. You’re not listening!”
Page Six reported on June 15 that The Weeknd, who described the series as a “five-hour film,” was not expected to move forward with a second season due in part to his alleged “egomaniacal” behavior on set. HBO denied the report the same day, tweeting, “It is being misreported that a decision on a second season of The Idol has been determined. It has not, and we look forward to sharing the next episode with you Sunday night.” However, the episode count shrunk from six to five as a result of a creative retooling, with a source telling TVLine: “The season ended up being five episodes when it was all said and done after Sam took over and made significant changes. The story only ended up requiring five.”