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Euphoria: Everything you need to know about HBO’s new series starring Zendaya

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Pip Cook
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HBO’s gritty new drama series starring Zendaya will premiere on UK screens this week. Here’s everything we know so far…

Zendaya fans, rejoice! Euphoria, HBO’s brand new series starring the ex-Disney actress as lead, is coming to the UK. 

The hugely popular series, which follows the lives of a group of high school students as they navigate lives fraught with challenges such as bullying, addiction and loneliness, first aired in the US in June and is about to debut on UK screens this week. 

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The story is told from the perspective of 17-year-old recovering drug addict Rue, played by Zendaya, as she struggles to rebuild a life for herself. 

Since it was released in the US, the drama has attracted wide critical acclaim for its starkly unforgiving portrayal of abuse and anxiety, as well as it’s gritty presentation of relationships and female friendship.

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HBO has just announced that the first series of the drama will premiere in the UK and Ireland on 6 August, so you don’t have long to wait.

Here’s everything we know so far about Euphoria.

What is the plot of Euphoria?

The story is told from the perspective of Rue – a recovering drug addict who returns to high school after spending time in rehab. It follows the 17-year-old and a group of her fellow students as they grapple with questions surrounding sex, love, abuse and their place in a hostile world. 

Zendaya stars at the troubled Rue

The series has so far attracted huge critical acclaim for it’s stark portrayal of the modern struggles faced by teenagers today, but it’s graphic subject material has also caused some controversy.

Earlier this month, One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson spoke out about one particularly graphic sex scene featuring a cartoon version of Tomlinson and former band mate Harry Styles, saying he “was not contacted” nor did he “approve” it. The first episode of the drama also sparked outrage from some viewers, who were taken aback by an explicit scene purportedly featuring 30 penises. Yikes. 

Euphoria is based on an Israeli series of the same name that first aired in 2012. It’s written by Sam Levinson, the man behind 2017’s The Wizard of Lies starring Robert de Niro, and it’s produced by none other than Drake

Who stars in Euphoria?

Zendaya is joined by a bunch of great names who play her character’s fellow high schoolers.

Hunter Schafer gives a stunning breakout performance as new student Jules with whom Rue develops a complicated relationship, and Maude Apatow of Girls fame joins her as Lexi. Other stars include Sydney Sweeney (Sharp Objects), Eric Dane (The Last Ship), Algee Smith (The Hate You Give) and Jacob Elordi (The Kissing Booth). 

Maude Apatow stars as Lexi

Is there a trailer?

Yes – Zendaya tweeted the official US trailer before the season premiere back in June. It looks pretty intense. 

What are the critics saying about Euphoria? 

Entertainment Weekly was concerned that the headline-grabbing nature of the show’s storylines would overshadow its power. “I worry this series will fall victim to its own provocations — and there is an ongoing threat of gorgeously filmed violence,” Entertainment Weekly noted. “In its quieter moments, though, this is a sensitive teen drama, digging past characters’ identities into their souls.”

Vulture added that Euphoria presented a balance between bleakness and beauty. “It is artfully photographed, but often hard to look at because it is so suffocatingly bleak,” wrote Vulture. “After watching the first four episodes, I know that I don’t hate this show — it succeeds at sucking the viewer into its vibe and at building some genuine suspense about how certain story lines will play out.

The Guardian praised Zendaya’s performance as the lead character Rue. “Told from the perspective of 17-year-old drug addict named Rue, who is played with restraint by ex-Disney star Zendaya, the series is a compassionate examination of adolescent longing, as well as an indictment of a culture that is setting young people up for hopelessness,” they wrote. 

But the New York Post wondered who would actually be watching Euphoria. “Since it’s unlikely that teens subscribe to HBO, surely this series is meant to shock their parents, who are already in the subscriber base,” noted the New York Post. “Was anyone thinking fans of former Disney Channel star Zendaya, who plays a junkie named Rue, were going to follow her to HBO to watch her walking around in a stupor or passed out on the floor?”  

How can I watch Euphoria?

The drama will premiere on Sky Atlantic and NowTV in the UK and Ireland on Tuesday 6 August, with all episodes available to watch on-demand.

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Those who want to watch the show in weekly installments can do so on Sky Atlantic, where it’ll air every Tuesday at 10pm. 

Will there be a second series?

Yes! HBO has also just announced that the show will be renewed for a second series, though the date is yet to be confirmed.

“Euphoria creator Sam Levinson has built an incredible world with an extraordinary cast led by the supremely talented Zendaya. We are so grateful that he chose HBO as the home for this groundbreaking series,” said Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO programming, in a statement.

“We look forward to following these complex characters as their journeys continue through the challenging world they inhabit.”

Zendaya's gritty performance has attracted huge critical acclaim

Soon after the announcement, Zendaya took to twitter to express her excitement.

“Literally just got the call,” she wrote. “Can’t say thank you enough for the support we’ve seen, wow…”

According to HBO, the show attracted 5.5 million viewers when it aired in the US last month. We’re definitely going to be glued to the sofa next month to see what all the hype’s about. 

Images: courtesy of HBO

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