The new HBO drama, created by Sam Levinson, follows a group of teenagers (led by Zendaya's Rue) as they navigate their teenage years while affected by the scrutinies of social media, drug use and sex.
Many viewers were left feeling uncomfortable by some of the more graphic scenes in the episode, as well as the mature look at modern life as a teenager, but the actress said she was drawn to the mature subject when she decided to sign on for the show.
"... I got a call from my manager about this project that HBO was doing. She's like, 'It definitely goes there. I don't know what your comfort level is, but it's a great script.' I got the script and raced through that first episode. I read it so fast. I was just glued to it and felt so connected to Rue immediately in some crazy way," Zendaya said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"Sam told me that I was on his vision board for Rue, which I thought was crazy. I was like, 'I don't believe you. What in my career have I done to prove that I can do this?' I just got so lucky to meet him and that he saw something in me that I could translate that or trust me with that much of his life," she added.
While the show makes a lot of statements with its portrayal of drug addiction, The Greatest Showman star revealed that the point of the show is not to give a political stance on the subject matter.
"This show is not meant to be a political statement... We just want it to be a reflection in a beautiful way of storytelling that allows people to think and connect and feel however they choose to feel about it," she told the publication. "But it's definitely not supposed to be this political statement about the world, you know what I mean? I think we tap on things and discuss things that are tough, but again, it's storytelling. It allows the audience to see things how they choose to."
When teasing the upcoming episodes of Season 1, Zendaya said fans should prepare for thing to get a lot wilder.
"Let's just say like, the first episode is the most mild, to be honest. It definitely doesn't shy away from anything, that's for sure," she said.
Fans of the show were all over social media commenting on some of the show's most intense moments, including a graphic scene depicting statutory rape.