As a refresher: Several unnamed cast and crew on The Idol told Rolling Stone that the production had suffered since April 2022, when its original director, Amy Seinmetz, abruptly exited despite completing “80 percent” of the series. That month, a “creative overhaul” was reported by Deadline, with Tesfaye reportedly feeling that the show was leaning too far toward a “female perspective.”


“I actually really loved working with Amy, and I’m sure she’s reading all this being like, ‘Why am I being thrown into this?’” Tesfaye told VF. “Shows get reshot every day.” Notably, Seimetz declined to comment on Rolling Stone’s original story and, per Vanity Fair, wasn’t available to provide comment on the latest story either.

“It was like the Weeknd wanted one show that was all about him—Sam [Levinson] was on board with that,” one source told RS in March. But Levinson soon assumed the role of director and proceeded to rewrite and reshoot the project, whose budget now falls somewhere between $54 and 75 million. It was under Levinson’s direction, that sources said the series became something it...well, wasn’t supposed to.


Apparently, Levinson’s take on the story—which was originally reported as a cautionary tale about a starlet (portrayed by Lily Rose Depp) struggling to maintain agency in relation to a high-powered industry figure—devolved into a “degrading love story” littered with unnecessary nudity and head-scratching depictions of a sexual dynamic. Meanwhile, Tesfaye asserted that Depp had creative agency on the show. He didn’t dispute the show’s potentially problematic content, though.

Take this disturbing scene printed by Vanity Fair that sees Jocelyn (Depp) and Leia (Rachel Sennot) discussing Tedros (Tesfaye):

In The Idol’s first episode, Jocelyn wrestles, barely, with whether to see Tedros at all. She’s sitting on her couch—Tesfaye’s couch—and worrying with her assistant about how her upcoming single will land. Leia (Sennott) reassures her.

“I think I’m gonna invite Tedros over,” Jocelyn says.

Leia balks, but over wine, they’re both smiling and rolling their eyes.

“He’s so rape-y.”

“Yeah, I kind of like that about him.”

“Joc, no, gross. So disturbing.”

“I mean, this isn’t a secret. Hollywood is a dark place. Which makes for great art,” Tesfaye said. Uh, I think there are quite a few examples that disprove this but in the case of The Idol, I guess we’ll see when it premieres next month.