The Canadian singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, co-created the HBO series alongside Euphoria’s Sam Levinson.
He also appears in the series as Tedros Tedros, an enigmatic club owner and cult leader who worms his way into the life of troubled pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp).
However, the show has already attracted controversy, most notably over accusations that it depicts an exploitative and misogynist attitude towards women. One particular scene in episode two, which was broadcast on HBO on Sunday (11 June) and Sky Atlantic on Monday (12 June), has left viewers cringing in embarrassment.
It shows a fully-clothed Tedros ordering a naked and blindfolded Jocelyn to fulfil his sexual fantasies, as he ogles her from afar. At one stage, he says: ”F***in' stretch that tiny, little p****."
“I will never see The Weeknd the same after this,” one fan wrote, with another stating: “He definitely gives me the ick after that episode.”
Other viewers branded the scene “nasty”, “straight-up offputting” and “a very hard watch”.
Meanwhile, many more criticised the singer’s acting skills.
“The Idol would be so good if it wasn’t for the weekend he just ruins it lmao,” one tweet read.
Another stated: “The first 10 minutes of the episode before The Weekend got on screen once again actually had me interested and I thought it had something important to say about the music industry and the relationship between the artist and the industry executives.”
In March, the show came under fire after Rolling Stone published an exposé featuring anonymous interviews with those who worked on the series. They alleged that Tesfaye, Levinson and the show’s producers had taken the show “disgustingly off the rails” to create a drama “about a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it”.
However, some are defending the series, with many saying the scenes are supposed to be tough to watch as Tedros is taking advantage of Jocelyn’s “vulnerability” – and that the show is depicting their relationship as “sick”.
Depp, who stars in the show, has said she wanted to leave room for viewers “to be surprised” by avoiding discussing the show in depth before it aired.
“I think it’s interesting that people have so much to say about the show already, and they haven’t even seen it,” she told reporters at Cannes Film Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Idol continues Sundays on HBO and Sky Atlantic.