‘The Idol’ and 9 other television series created by musicians

The Weeknd, Drake and Childish Gambino are among the artists who’ve ventured from the studio booth to the writer’s room. 

With The White Lotus’ uber successful theme song as evidence, it’s clear that the cross-section of music and television has never been busier.

For some time now, artists have flocked to the small screen as an outlet for their music, venturing behind the scenes to further diversify their portfolio. Just yesterday (February 1), Donald Glover announced plans to helm a second television show, but he’s not the only musician to don the producer hat.

Credit: HB/YouTube; Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Guy D’Alema/FX

Its never proved more fruitful for an artist to venture from the studio to the writer’s room. Spanning adult animations from Kid Cudi to HBO Emmy award-winners from Drake, there’s a multitude of artists who’ve channel surfed their way to television glory. Whether they’re credited as co-creators, producers, stars — or all of the above — these are the musicians whose tv shows have them well on their way to the coveted EGOT status.

The Idol — The Weeknd

Said to explore the underbelly of Hollywood’s music scene through the lens of an aspiring pop star, The Weeknd’s upcoming drama The Idol looks poised to expose the depths of the L.A. glitterati. Alongside his co-creator hat, The Weeknd will also star in the HBO series opposite Lily-Rose Depp, with Euphoria creator Sam Levinson occupying the director’s chair. Fellow musicians Troye Sivan and Moses Sumney will also feature in the cast of the series, which is set to premiere sometime this year. 

Euphoria — Drake

Joining HBO’s producer pool is Drake, who executive produced one of the channel’s flagship series Euphoria. The melodramas of high school students — portrayed by the likes of Zendaya and Sydney Sweeney — received input from the Canadian rapper through the show’s soundtrack, with Drake also appearing at episode table reads. Euphoria’s third season, again produced by Drake, is due for release later this year.  

The Umbrella Academy — Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance

Alongside being the frontman of emo rock legends My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way is also a comic book enthusiast, penning the Umbrella Academy series which forms the basis of the Netflix show of the same name. What began as Way’s first issue limited series comic run in 2007 has since become one Netflix’s most popular titles, chronicling the superheroic antics of an adopted family across a three-season run, with a fourth instalment already renewed. 

Entergalactic — Kid Cudi

Serving as a visual companion to Kid Cudi’s 2022 album of the same name, Entergalactic follows a young artist on the cusp of musical success. In addition to creating and producing, the animated title enlisted voice roles from Kid Cudi himself, as well as fellow musicians Ty Dolla Sign and Jaden Smith. Entergalactic was initially billed as a series but later premiered as a television special on Netflix. Cudi’s namesake album doubles as the show’s soundtrack.


Atlanta — Donald Glover

When he’s not indicting America with blistering rap bars as Childish Gambino, Donald Glover is enjoying the four-season run of his FX series Atlanta. The drama series follows Earnest (played by Glover himself), who navigates the rap scene of the titular city alongside fellow musician Paper Boi. Creating an Emmy-winning series is no small feat, but we shouldn’t expect anything less from the former-star of the beloved sitcom Community.   

Heartstrings — Dolly Parton

In addition to country legend, Hall of Famer, and general sweetheart status, Dolly Parton can add television producer to her expansive portfolio. The Jolene singer executive produced Heartstrings, a romantic anthology series that premiered on Netflix in 2019. Each episode is named after the title of one of Parton’s songs and dramatizes the memories and inspirations behind each namesake track. Parton herself also appears in cameo roles throughout some episodes of the series.    


Wu-Tang: An American Saga — RZA

Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA first ventured to the small screen in 2019, serving as the creator and executive producer of Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga. The series traces the origin story, formation and ascent of the titular rap group in the early 90s, and scored RZA an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music in 2020. The third and final season of the series, which stars Ashton Sanders as RZA, is due for release in February 2023. 

Swarm — Donald Glover

With Atlanta wrapping up after its fourth and final season last year, Glover has gotten to work on a follow-up, which will arrive in 2023 in the form of Swarm. The drama series is said to be inspired by the bordering-on-obsessive antics of music fandoms like that of Beyoncé — who call themselves The Hive. Swarm credits Barack Obama’s daughter Malia as a writer, and will explore the murky territory that comes with being a so-called music fan. 

'Swarm' on Amazon Prime
Still from Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Swam’. Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/Amazon

Neo Yokio — Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend 

Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig has translated his musical storytelling to the small screen with Neo Yokio, an adult anime series that enjoyed a six-episode run on Netflix in 2017. The show follows the character of Kaz Kaan as he navigates a brightly-coloured world liberated from demons by a group of ‘magistocrats’. Koenig once said that the series, which stars fellow artist Jaden Smith, helped inspire Vampire Weeknd’s 2019 album Father of the Bride

Top Boy — Drake

Clearly at home in the producer’s chair, Drake lent his influence to the once-cancelled British series Top Boy. Upon hearing of the show’s cancellation after two seasons, Drake pitched a third instalment of Top Boy to Netflix, who greenlit the rapper’s proposal and reprised the roles of the former cast for a season three premiere in 2019. Top Boy chronicles the drug wars between rival gangs in the housing estates of east London.