How many episodes of 'The Idol' are there? Here's what you need to know

There's been much confusion about the show's run, but how many episodes of 'The Idol' are there exactly?"

How many episodes of The Idol are there? Pictured: Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye HBO The Idol Season 1 - Episode 3
(Image credit: Eddy Chen/HBO)

It's dominated the conversation every Sunday night, but how many episodes of The Idol are there, exactly? It turns out, that's a controversy, too. 

The scandalous HBO series, starring Lily-Rose Depp as a troubled pop star and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye as the cult leader she becomes romantically entangled with, premiered on Sunday, June 4. 

It quickly became the talk of the town, not only because of its high-profile cast that also includes Troye Sivan, Dan Levy and BLACKPINK's Jennie Kim, but also for its graphic sex scenes (the latest, that The Idol hairbrush scene, is causing serious controversy) and rumors of behind-the-scenes drama onset. (Here's everything to know about that public spat between The Weeknd and Rolling Stone magazine.) 

Given how much scandal the show has fit into such a short amount of time, The Idol viewers are wondering how many episodes of the show we can expect in total. Here's everything we know.

How many episodes of 'The Idol' are there?

The Idol was expected to have six hour-long episodes, with one new episode released every Sunday at 9pm Eastern on HBO and Max. The first two episodes had their world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22, and the show hit HBO on June 4.

Now, several days before the July 2 episode, viewers learned that the fifth episode is also the season finale, an unexpected revelation about The Idol ending. This caused plenty of people to question how things were edited and how the storyline changed. Overall, those who are tuning in wondered if bad publicity caused the show to shorten its stint. 

Though it was granted a six-episode run in 2021, things changed and by the time The Idol was ready for our screens, it only intended to be a five-episode first season. It premiered at Cannes as five hour-long episodes, and The Weeknd told GQ that it's a "five-hour film."

  • Episode 1, "Pop Tarts & Rat Tales": June 4
  • Episode 2, "Double Fantasy": June 11
  • Episode 3, "Daybreak": June 18
  • Episode 4, "Stars Belong to the World": June 25
  • Episode 5, "Title TBD": July 2

That leaves one more week for The Idol to wrap up its storylines about Jocelyn, Tedros and the various characters orbiting their world, including Troye Sivan's Xander, Jennie Kim's Dyanne and Moses Sumney's Izaak. 

If you need a little refresher on what the show's about, here's the official logline from HBO: "After a nervous breakdown derailed Jocelyn’s (Lily-Rose Depp) last tour, she’s determined to claim her rightful status as the greatest and sexiest pop star in America. Her passions are reignited by Tedros (Abel 'The Weeknd' Tesfaye), a nightclub impresario with a sordid past. Will her romantic awakening take her to glorious new heights or the deepest and darkest depths of her soul?"

Will there be a second season of 'The Idol'?

There's been much confusion over whether The Idol was made as a miniseries or as a longer-running project. 

For one thing, Page Six reported that the series would not be returning for a sophomore season, with one inside source saying: “This was never meant to be a long-running show, it was always…a limited series.” That standalone format was seemingly confirmed by The Weeknd (along with starring in The Idol, the musician is also its co-creator and one of its executive producers), who called the show a "five-hour film" in an interview with GQ.

However, in response to swirling rumors about the show's future (and yes, many people were questioning "Is The Idol cancelled?" after those initial viewership stats were released), HBO issued a statement on its official PR Twitter account: "It is being misreported that a decision on a second season of The Idol has been determined. It has not, and we look forward to sharing the next episode with you Sunday night."

So, until we get official confirmation that The Idol season 2 is a go, we're sticking to calling this one a miniseries...for now at least. 

Catch new episodes of The Idol on HBO and Max on Sundays at 9pm Eastern.

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.