Is ‘The Idol’ Based on a True Story? HBO’s Controversial Series Explained

Jocelyn talking
Credit: HBO

Jocelyn talking
Credit: HBO

HBO’s The Idol follows an aspiring pop idol named Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) and her rise to fame. The series deals with events revolving around the music industry, so is The Idol based on a true story?

The answer is no, HBO’s The Idol is not based on a true story. While the series follows a pop star’s rise to fame and deals with events that happen in the music industry, The Idol is not based on any specific artist's story.

What is HBO’s The Idol About?

Jocelyn and Tedros looking at something with shades on
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Credit: HBO

HBO’s The Idol follows the story of Jocelyn, an aspiring pop idol. She has a nervous breakdown due to her mother’s death, and this causes her tour to be canceled.

Jocelyn works to build back her career, and she enters into a complex relationship with Tedros (Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye), a club owner who is also a cult leader. HBO calls their romance “the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood.”

Additionally, it can be noted that the series has content involving substance abuse, sex, and partying which are similar to HBO’s Euphoria. This is why some have dubbed The Idol as the “next Euphoria.”

RELATED: The Idol News & Updates: Scandal and Controversy Surround Euphoria Creator Sam Levinson's Latest HBO Masterpiece

Is HBO’s The Idol Based on a True Story?

Jocelyn walking in the backstage
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Credit: HBO

HBO’s The Idol is not based on a true story or on any real person. However, The Idol shows events that happen in the music industry.

Sam Levinson, the creator of The Idol (who’s notably also the creator of Euphoria), clarified during the series’ Cannes premiere (via Variety) that the HBO series does not tell a story about a particular pop star, but only shows what pop stars go through.

“We’re not trying to tell a story about any particular pop star. I think we’re looking more at how the world perceives pop stars, and the pressure that it puts on that individual. It’s a lot of pressure to constantly have to be on, and to have to be what everyone wishes you to be. I also think that it’s a lonely life… I think fame really corrupts,” Levinson said.

Additionally, actress Lily-Rose Depp said that they are not “telling anybody else’s story.” She explained that they wanted her character Jocelyn to feel like a “pop star of our time”.

“I think something we wanted to do with the character is make her feel simultaneously like a pop star of our time, but also like she existed in her own plane, in a way,” Depp said.
Jocelyn angrily walking
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Credit: HBO

While The Idol is not based on a specific artist’s story, Depp revealed in an interview with W Magazine that Jocelyn’s “closest real-life twin” is “probably Britney Spears.”

She also revealed in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that she drew inspiration from other influences that are not pop stars.

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"We actually drew from a lot of other influences that are not pop stars," she added. "We thought a lot about Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct and the Gene Tierneys and Lauren Bacalls... all of these women that were very inspiring to me for the role," said Depp.

So, The Idol is not based on a true story or a specific artist’s experience in the music industry. But it does deal with the pressures and dark circumstances artists may face in the music industry.

RELATED: The Idol Controversy: HBO Defends Sam Levinson Amid Allegedly Making Upcoming Series ‘Rape Fantasy, Sexual Torture Porn’

When is HBO's The Idol Coming Out?

The Idol will premiere on June 4, 2023, on HBO and will be available to stream on Max (formerly known as “HBO Max”). The series will have six episodes.

The Idol stars Lily-Rose Depp and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye (who’s also an executive producer), along with Troye Sivan, Blackpink's Jennie, Suzanna Son, Moses Sumney, Jane Adams, Dan Levy, Eli Roth, Rachel Sennott, Hari Nef, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Mike Dean, Ramsey, Hank Azaria, and many more.

Watch the official teaser for HBO’s The Idol below:

RELATED: Sam Levinson’s The Idol Controversies May Affect Euphoria Season 3

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