HBO's controversial 'The Idol' starring The Weeknd has divided the world, according to new data about its global popularity

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HBO's controversial 'The Idol' starring The Weeknd has divided the world, according to new data about its global popularity
The Weeknd stars in the HBO series "The Idol" alongside Lily-Rose Depp.HBO
  • "The Idol" debuted on June 4 and its reception around the world has been uneven.
  • It's a hit in Scandinavia and Latin America, but hasn't performed as well in the US, per data from FlixPatrol.
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HBO's "The Idol" was divisive before it even debuted on June 4, and its popularity around the world has also been uneven, according to new data.

"The Idol," from "Euphoria" creator Sam Levinson, stars Lily-Rose Depp as pop star who becomes entangled with a dangerous and culty nightclub owner played by Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye.

Data from FlixPatrol, which tracks official top lists from streamers like Max (which streams HBO shows including "The Idol") and Netflix, shows that the series has been very popular in Latin America, Scandinavia, and Central Europe, while it hasn't done as well in the US and Western Europe.

On Friday, the show was in the No. 1 spot for series on Max in countries including Sweden, Hungary, and Denmark, and in the top three in Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia. But it didn't even crack the top 10 in the US or UK.

HBO said the premiere had 913,000 viewers, which combined Nielsen's linear viewership measurement with the company's own Max streaming data. That's down 17% from "Euphoria's" Season 1 debut, per Variety.

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The reviews of the show have been brutal and it currently has a 28% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 58% audience score).

Variety's Peter Debruge dubbed the series "a sordid male fantasy" in his review, and The Hollywood Reporter's Lovia Gyarkye deemed it "more regressive than transgressive."

But the controversies started for "The Idol" well before the reviews started rolling in.

A bombshell story from Rolling Stone in March said the show had gone "wildly, disgustingly off the rails," according to interviews with 13 sources.

Rolling Stone in March reported, citing four sources, that when Levinson took more control late into production he changed the approach to the story, "making it less about a troubled starlet falling victim to a predatory industry figure and fighting to reclaim her own agency, and more of a degrading love story with a hollow message that some crew members describe as being offensive."

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Tesfaye called the Rolling Stone article "ridiculous" in an interview with Vanity Fair shortly after its publication.

While doing press around the show's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Depp and Levinson also pushed back on the report.

Depp said it was "always sad and disheartening to hear mean, false things about someone you care about, and it wasn't my experience shooting the show."

Levinson's reaction to reading the piece: "I think we're about to have the biggest show of the summer."

The jury is still out on that one.

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