The Idol Trailer: HBO's Controversial New Series Finally Gets A Release Date

The behind-the-scenes controversies of "The Idol" seem like they might overshadow the actual story of HBO's upcoming drama series. The television show, which lists Sam Levinson of "Euphoria" fame and Abel Tesfaye a.k.a. The Weeknd as co-creators and producers, has undergone drastic production changes since its initial stages of development, reportedly due to Tesfaye's push for his own creative direction. After months of delays, cast and crew changes, and rewrites and reshoots, the newest trailer for the "The Idol" finally revealed that the series will premiere on June 4, 2023.

Much of the production drama of "The Idol" has to do with the portrayal of its premise, which revolves around pop star Jocelyn, played by Lily-Rose Depp, and her relationship with cult leader Tedros (Tesfaye) during a crisis stage in her career. Although HBO initially ordered the show to series in November 2021, director and executive producer Amy Seimetz of Starz' "The Girlfriend Experience" departed in April of 2022 when about 80% of the six episodes had already been shot, sending shockwaves through the production's schedule. According to a report from Rolling Stone, Levinson hijacked the project as director and extensively changed Seimetz's original ideas. Deadline reported that Tesfaye had expressed that the story's "female perspective" was overshadowing his own character, a sentiment that seems to have influenced Levinson's revised handling of the script.

Watch the trailer for The Idol

Interestingly, the trailer puts the spotlight mostly on Jocelyn, although that may be because the marketing department is keenly aware of the controversies surrounding the show. A voiceover from Tedros suggests that he'll be a constant presence in Jocelyn's life (and in the plot), but narratively, it looks as if the pop star is squarely in the role of the protagonist (or at least the main character with an antiheroic spin). There's also some strikingly dreamy cinematography going, something that the divisive Levinson, despite other criticisms, has continued to receive praise for during his time on "Euphoria."

Still, the teaser promises a lot of shocking, sex-centered controversies throughout Jocelyn's career, which may also be the handiwork of Levinson judging by his previous work and the Rolling Stone report. Whether this will amount to the sort of "sexual torture porn" one of the sources claimed the script rewrites felt like remains to be seen, but it's clear the show is far from taking a conservative approach to this material. The trailer also serves to show off the series' cast, which heavily features musicians like YouTuber singer Troye Sivan, musical theater actress Da'Vine Joy Randolph, alternative artist Moses Sumney, and K-Pop star Jennie (who is credited as Jennie Ruby Jane as an acting stage name). Other cast members include Dan Levy, Hank Azaria, Eli Roth, Hari Nef, Jane Adams, and, curiously, Suzanna Son, who left production along with Seimetz.