The idol was met with a less than desirable response after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Co-created by Sam Levinson and Abel Tesfaye, the upcoming series stars Lily-Rose Depp as a troubled rising popstar who falls prey to a cult leader.
Tesfaye, better known by his musician stage name The Weeknd, plays the handsome but fearsome leader Tedros.
After its first screening on Monday May 22, The idol received a five-minute standing ovation from the audience.
Despite applause indicating widespread approval, less than a day later the program has an average score of just 10% on popular review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
Early in the day, The idol had a 20% Tomatometer rating on the platform, indicating further downside.
Shortly after the screening, some critics condemned the show as “shameful” and compared it to pornography.
For months before its planned launch in June, The idol has been the subject of much discussion and controversy. In addition to the project having to undergo many resumptions, a rolling stone investigation in March cited 13 unnamed sources from the production, who described chaotic filming conditions and sex scenes that made them feel uncomfortable.
At a Cannes press conference, Levinson defended the show’s use of nudity, calling its inclusion a “groundbreaking” act.
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“We live in a very sexualized world. Especially in the United States, the influence of pornography is strong in the psyche of young people. We see that in pop music,” he said.
“When you have a character that has a strong sense of self and a strong sexual self, you end up underestimating them.”
Clearly upbeat about the show’s reception, Levinson also joked, “I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.”
The idol begins June 4 on HBO in the US and on Sky Atlantic in the UK.