HBO’s ‘The Idol’ Is ‘Hostile to Feminism,’ Media Experts Say

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TheWrap spoke to four leading voices in media, as well as the Parents Television and Media Council, about the impact of the HBO drama series

Lily-Rose Depp and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye star in "The Idol" (Courtesy of HBO, Christopher Smith/TheWrap)

“Regressive.” “Hostile to feminism.” “A male fantasy.” “Totally disempowered.” “Women as toilet paper.” “Sleazy and tawdry.” “Porny.” 

Four weeks in, that’s how “The Idol” — HBO’s latest and one of its most scandalous Sunday night shows — was described to TheWrap by leading feminist voices who specialize in media. On the heels of the Parents and Television Media Council calling for HBO to cancel the series, it’s not just special interest parenting groups that have questioned the premium cable network’s decision to air the drama from “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and Reza Fahim.

“If we’re going to have our cake and eat it too, in this way of exploiting female sexuality in order to comment on the exploitation of female sexuality, I’m not sure that’s a super important message right now,” Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of “When Women Invented Television” and “Pop Star Goddesses,” told TheWrap.