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5 Reasons ‘Euphoria’ Fans Don’t Like Sam Levinson — And Why His New Show ‘The Idol’ Is Already Being Slammed

Photo: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock/HBO
Sam Levinson

Filmmaker Sam Levinson has become quite a controversial figure among fans of his work.

As the creator, writer and director of HBO's hit show "Euphoria", Levinson has had to deal with a lot of pushback from disgruntled fans. And now, with the release of a trailer for his new show, "The Idol," Levinson is under fire once again.

Fans are already criticizing "The Idol," which was created in tandem with Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, and stars Lily-Rose Depp, for being highly sexualized without even seeing the unreleased show.

Others labeled the show "toxic" and raised concerns over what it might inadvertently promote.

But Levinson is likely accustomed to this kind of negative feedback from fans given his other controversies. 

Here are 5 controversies Sam Levinson has faced during his career:

1. He was accused of having unnecessarily long set days on "Euphoria."

According to a report published by The Daily Beast, the production faced “gruelingly long workdays that could stretch anywhere from 15 to 17 hours,” allegedly a result of Levinson showing up to set with no shot list.

RELATED: ‘Euphoria’ Star Javon Walton Says He Hopes To Return For Season 3 & Thinks There May Be A Twist For Ashtray

While some argued that workdays upwards of 12 hours is the norm, others countered that the industry standard is the problem. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jacob Elordi, who plays Nate Jacobs, also spoke about the long filming hours, though he praised Levinson's directing.

“We do shoot really long days; sometimes 16-hour days,” Elordi said. “It’s kind of like the labor and the love of the work. You can’t do that stuff in a short amount of time. At the end of it all, it’s quite cathartic to work so hard and long on something and have a product that you’re proud of come out.”

2. Sam dated Ellen Barkin, who played his mother in a film.

Back in 2011, when Levinson was 25 and Barkin was 56, the two dated after she played Levinson's mother in his film "Another Happy Day."

In an interview with Elle, Barkin opened up about her relationship with Levinson, as well as working with him on his film, "This is a guy who really loves women. The real appreciation of what it means—like I always say to Sam is you must have been profoundly well mothered."

Levinson also spoke about Barkin in a 2011 interview with the Daily News. "We've been together for like three years, under the radar."

The pair are now broken up and Levinson is married to a much more age-appropriate partner.

3. Many fans took issue with the excessive nude scenes in "Euphoria."

One of the biggest issues viewers had with season two of "Euphoria" were the excessive amounts of nude scenes, that were sometimes wholly irrelevant.

Many fans argued on social media that a show about teenagers shouldn't have such blunt nude scenes, especially if it doesn't have anything to do with the plot. 

For one character in specific, Cassie Howard, played by Sydney Sweeney, her plot for season two was significantly more sexually-driven than it was for her in the first season. 

RELATED: 5 Times ‘Euphoria’ Cast Members Had To Ask Sam Levinson To Remove Nude Scenes Because They Were Uncomfortable

Sweeney actually pushed back against a specific scene where Levinson wanted her to get naked, an incident she talks about in an interview with The Independent.

"There are moments where Cassie was supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, 'I don't really think that's necessary here.' He was like, 'OK, we don't need it,'" she said. 

4. Levinson has been accused of "character assassination" for certain storylines in "Euphoria."

In season one of "Euphoria," viewers were introduced to a range of characters, who received proper introductions at the beginning of some episodes.

However, many of those characters were overlooked during the entirety of season two, something that many fans of the show have called "character assassination."

For characters like McKay, played by Algee Smith, who appeared in the first episode of season two, where his only scene was breaking up with Cassie, and then was forgotten about for the reason of the season.

And other characters like Kat, played by Barbie Ferreira, who disappeared into the background, were given storylines that didn't make sense with the character introduction we received in season one.

Instead, season two focused heavily on Nate and Cassie's extremely toxic relationship, as well as spending 15 minutes during the beginning of an episode detailing Cal Jacobs' backstory, which many fans didn't really care for.

5. He was criticized for exploiting the voice of a Black actor in "Malcolm & Marie."

In 2021, Levinson wrote and directed the Netflix drama film "Malcolm & Marie," which was met with some heavy criticism after Malcolm, played by John David Washington, goes into heavy rants about white critics.

In the film, Malcolm spends some time talking down about an unnamed white female critic, which is at the point where viewers felt as if Levinson was using a Black man's voice as a mouthpiece to rant about his own negative critiques.

In a movie review published by the Guardian, they write: "In every disingenuous instance of Levinson airing his laundry through this Black man, is the hope that white critics will see enough of themselves in the LA Times journalist to therefore go easy on Levinson’s present film."

RELATED: 5 ‘Euphoria’ Plotlines That Are Still Unresolved After The Season 2 Finale

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.