'Euphoria': Zendaya Warns of 'Graphic,' 'Raw' and 'Triggering' Premiere for New HBO Series

Ahead of the premiere of her new HBO show Euphoria, Zendaya warned her younger fans that the controversial and explicit show is only intended for mature viewers.

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The series was created by Sam Levinson and is based on the Israeli drama of the same name, created by Ron Leshem, Daphna Levin and Tmira Yardeni. Although the show is about high school students, it has already garnered controversy for its graphic depiction of teens having sex and using drugs. It is a very different program compared to Disney's K.C. Undercover and Shake It Up, the children's shows that launched Zendaya's career.

Since some of those younger fans might look into seeing the 22-year-old actress' new project, she warned them on Instagram that it is not a show their parents might approve of.

"Just a reminder before tonight's premiere, that Euphoria is for mature audiences," Zendaya wrote. "It's a raw and honest portrait of addiction, anxiety and the difficulties of navigating life today. There are scenes that are graphic, hard to watch and can be triggering. Please only watch if you feel you can handle it. Do what's best for you. I will still love you and feel your support. Love, Daya."

In the series, Zendaya plats Rue, a rebellious student who curses frequently and uses drugs. During the ATX Television Festival last week, she explained why she took the role.

"I just knew that I had to take my time and I had to go slow and I had to earn my way up," the Spider-Man: Homecoming star said, reports Deadline. "It was just about being patient and slowly opening those doors for myself and getting into the rooms and getting people to see me a little bit more in a different way and not ever pushing it too far too fast. I think a moment like this, if it happened too soon, people wouldn't be willing to accept it."

Levinson also said after a screening of the first episode that he and the other producers were "mindful of" the chances their show could glamorize drug use, but they wanted to strike a realistic tone.

"We have to be authentic about it. If we're pulling our punches and we're not showing the relief that drugs can bring it starts to lose its impact," Levinson explained. "Drugs are not the solution but they can feel like it at times, and that's what makes them so destructive."

The pilot, which airs Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET on HBO, will shock viewers immediately. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the episode includes a scene where Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane) rapes a 17-year-old trans girl played by 20-year-old Hunter Schafer. Zendaya's character also suffers a drug overdose. In the second episode, 30 penises are seen during a locker room scene.

"There are going to be parents who are going to be totally f– freaked out," Levinson, the son of director Barry Levinson, told THR. Levinson wrote all eight episodes of the show's first season and used his own struggles with addiction as inspiration.

The material was so risque that one cast member even quit while shooting the pilot. Former X Factor contestant Brian "Astro" Bradley, 22, left the show and was replaced by Algee Smith.


Euphoria airs at 10 p.m. ET Sundays on HBO.

Photo credit: HBO