If you've been watching HBO in the last few months, you've probably glimpsed at least one preview for Euphoria, the network's upcoming take on the teen drama format.
According to the The Hollywood Reporter , the show is taking what you might have already seen in other teen dramas like Riverdale, Degrassi, or Skins, and turning the notch all the way up: as THR reports, Euphoria is "perhaps the most unflinching, not to mention explicit, take on modern adolescence ever to hit U.S. television."
Set to debut this coming Sunday following Big Little Lies, Euphoria is generating a ton of buzz and controversy based on its depictions of drug use and sex. Apparently, that includes an erect [prosthetic] penis, and one episode alone that features around 30 penises on screen.
The 30-penis situation reportedly occurs in the series' second episode, during a locker room sequence envisioned as a "gender-bent homage" to the notorious locker room scene from Carrie. Featuring dozens of naked high school boys, the scene in Euphoria is apparently cut down from what they originally filmed, which showrunner Sam Levinson said featured "like, 80 more" penises.
That nudity is not just intended for shock value, and neither is much of the show's excessive drug use. "It's not sensational to be sensational," said HBO programming president Casey Bloys, according to THR. "It may seem boundary-pushing, and the idea of putting them on TV may be, but somebody lived them."
Bloys is referring to the fact that Euphoria's showrunner, Sam Levinson, based many of the show's scenes on his own life. Levinson, 34, is the son of director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, among others), and has previously tackled the provocative teen genre; his feature film Assassination Nation was released last year, and featured many of these same themes: drugs, violence, sex, and satire.
The show's lead actress is Zendaya, who will also appear for the second time as MJ in next month's Spider-Man: Far From Home . The 22-year-old started her career with roles in Disney Channel shows, and has been looking for more adult roles to separate her image from those more youth-oriented pieces.
In one scene, she's said to experience a drug overdose, and in another, she "deconstructs the art of a dick pic" in a tongue-in-cheek manner. "We can get away with a lot of shit with comedy," Zendaya told THR. "I've only really done family movies, so everybody sees me a certain way and doesn't assume that I can do [a part like this]-or that I want to."
The show is so explicit that one actor, Brian "Astro" Bradley, a 22-year old rapper signed to Nas' label, quit the show during production of the pilot. According to THR sources, he was "uncomfortable shooting scenes that weren't in the original pilot script and suggested his character would experiment with homosexuality in future episodes." His role was recast and reshot by Algee Smith, who appeared in The Hate U Give.
If you're interested to see for yourself just how risqu Euphoria is, the pilot debuts this Sunday on HBO (and HBOGo and HBONow) at 10:00 p.m.