Early on within the provocative new HBO drama sequence “Euphoria,” a teen drug addict performed by Zendaya addresses the viewers, saying: “I do know loads of you most likely hate me proper now. And I get it.”

The Red Tea Detox

Hate really might be too weak of a phrase to explain what some viewers may really feel towards the character and/or this present. Premiering Sunday evening, “Euphoria” is an eight-episode sequence that comprises, amongst different issues, intensely graphic intercourse and drug-use scenes, full-frontal nudity (female and male), violence, rape and raunchy rap lyrics.

The present has drawn the ire of a watchdog group that accuses HBO of “overtly and deliberately” advertising and marketing this content material to teenagers and preteens.

It additionally represents a giant threat for Zendaya, an Oakland native who’s taking a dramatic leap away from the Disney Channel basis upon which she constructed her profession.

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“It’s a scary leap,” Zendaya informed the New York Occasions. “However I believe it was time for me to do that.”

In “Euphoria,” Zendaya performs Rue Bennett, a 17-year outdated contemporary out of rehab who, within the phrases of HBO publicity materials, is “struggling to make sense of her future.” Rue largely strikes by means of the opening episodes in a drug-induced haze and, at one level, suffers a horrific overdose that’s extremely disturbing to observe.

But, that scene nonetheless may not be almost as disturbing as a statuary rape scene depicted in Sunday’s opening episode.

Zendaya’s first huge show-biz break got here on the age of 14 when she landed a lead function within the Disney Channel’s dance-driven buddy comedy “Shake It Up.”  From 2015 to 2018, she produced and starred as Ok.C. Cooper on one other Disney Channel sitcom, “Ok.C. Undercover.” Her largely family-friendly resume additionally features a stint on “Dancing With the Stars.”

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“I don’t suppose any of my 8-year-old followers know,” she mentioned of her new TV function. “In the event that they do, I don’t suppose their mother and father will allow them to watch it.”

As for the grownup content material of “Euphoria,” Zendaya, 22, informed the Occasions she doesn’t discover it “that surprising,” however understands that different “folks will.”

“Euphoria” is a uncommon foray into teen drama for HBO and the Dad and mom Tv Council isn’t pleased about it.

“Simply as MTV did with ‘Skins’ and as Netflix is doing with ’13 Causes Why,’ HBO, with its new highschool centered present ‘Euphoria,’ seems to be overtly, deliberately, advertising and marketing extraordinarily graphic grownup content material — intercourse, violence, profanity and drug use – – to teenagers and preteens,” mentioned PTC President Tim Winter.

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“HBO may connect a content material score suggesting that it’s meant for mature audiences, however let’s be actual right here: who watches a present about highschool kids, besides highschool and junior excessive school-aged kids?”

As for TV critics, early opinions are blended. Richard Roeper of The Chicago Solar Occasions calls it” edgy and surprising and sobering and crackling good.”  However Hank Stuever of the Washington Put up describes the sequence as a “miserable and infrequently foul try to succeed in a ‘YA’ viewers.”

“Euphoria” premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday, June 16, on HBO.

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