'Idol' Chatter? Despite All the Sturm und Drang About Its Sex, HBO Series Drops 12% in Week 2 to just 800,000 Viewers

HBO original series 'The Idol'
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery)

Back in the go-go era that was the 1990s San Fernando Valley, Next TV lived in a Van Nuys-adjacent apartment complex that was chock-full of adult entertainment filmmakers (er, videographers) and onscreen talent. 

We were friendly with the leader of these hardworking creative denizens, their studio chief -- call him "Mitch" -- a "director" who drove a cool green late-model Pontiac Trans Am, and who had his talent read scripts for him in his apartment nude ... with the blinds open. 

Poolside, over a couple Miller Genuine Drafts one late evening, Mitch, who rented the relatively opulent "penthouse suite" at the Balboa Apartments, took time to carefully explain the difference between good porn and bad to the impressionable twenty-something Next.

"It all depends if it's tastefully done," the, uh, mogul told us, puffing a cigar.  

Thirty years later, on Twitter Monday, the earnest, outraged locals gathered around Elon Musk's fabled town square, frantically trying to fan themselves cool as they deconstructed Sunday's sex scene (yes, lurid!) in HBO's The Idol, in which creeeepy nightclub owner Tedros Tedros (played by Canadian music star The Weekend) gives explicit sexual commands to co-star Lilly Rose-Depp's Jocelyn. 

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As I struggled to keep my eyes open and my "MGD" from spilling onto the sofa Sunday evening, I thought of Mitch -- somewhere out there, if he hasn't already succumbed to the ravages of cirrhosis or some exotic venereal disease, he must be lamenting that The Idol isn't "tastefully done" at all. 

Certainly, The Idol, despite social Sturm und Drang from a lonely retrograde nation clearly in need of a little more human contact, is not a hit that will replace the gaping Sunday night show hole that used to have Succession in it any time soon.

According Nielsen data released by Warner Bros. Discovery Monday, episode 2 of the series attracted 800,000 same-day voyeurs, down 12% from its debut last week.

Spinning the numbers as best it could, WBD added that the Live+7 number for The Idol's premiere did climb to 3.6 million viewers, which usurped premieres for HBO's similarly targeted likes of Euphoria and The White Lotus, both of them modest hits. 

Fine, whatever. But we'll emphatically declare that we're not the least bit titillated about what voyeuristic pleasures await next Sunday evening ... although, we don't necessarily have any plans. 

But our prurient mind is curious as to just how The Weekend (aka Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) was approached for his role. 

He couldn't have known about the rat tail ...

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!