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The Weeknd address viral sex scene from Episode Two of HBO's The Idol

15 June 2023, 14:55 | Written by Tyler Damara Kelly

Two weeks ago, the HBO series which is co-created with Sam Levinson and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye had its debut after months of anticipation.

One of the main talking points of The Idol has been a scene in Episode Two which GQ described as one of "the worst sex scenes ever", where Tesfaye's character Tedros Tedros is a creepy sex cult leader who is cringe-inducing as he commands Lily-Rose Depp’s blindfolded character Jocelyn to perform a series of provocative/sexual acts.

Viewers have wasted no time making memes out of the scene, and criticising Tesfaye for his acting skills, but in an interview with GQ, he has defended the programme from the mixed reactions, by saying that everything was written in a way to be uncomfortable, and they're intentionally trying to provoke a reaction out of the audience. "With this show, we love to play with the emotions. We’re puppet-mastering your feelings through the show," he says.

"There’s nothing sexy about it. When we use Basic Instinct as a reference, we’re using Verhoeven. Verhoeven is the king of ‘90s satire thriller – yes, there’s moments of “sexy” in his films but there are other moments that are very cheesy and hilarious," he continues. "How ever you’re feeling watching that scene, whether it’s discomfort, or you feel gross, or you feel embarrassed for the characters..."

Tesfaye has been enjoying the reactions to the series, calling the discussion about The Idol “healthy,” no matter whether it's positive or negative: “It’s definitely shaken up the culture for sure. We knew we were making something dark and controversial but true to what we want to say,” he said. "I just think discussion is healthy, no matter what. To me it’s like, I’m just happy that there’s conversation. That’s important for anything I do, especially this new medium that I’m in."

The Idol is exclusively available to watch on Sky Atlantic.

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