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Why everyone's talking about Zendaya's controversial new show Euphoria

Here's why everyone is talking about it

Pascale Day

Watching Euphoria yet? The Gen Z drama has become one of the most talked-about shows of this year, thanks to its controversial content and top-notch soundtrack. Whether you're new to the show or already episodes deep, here's everything you need to know about your new favourite series…

Zendaya is the show's new star

The former Disney actress has had an exciting couple of years, from starring roles in Spiderman and The Greatest Showman, to an upcoming role in Denis Villeneuve's (Blade Runner 2049) 2020 sci-fi epic Dune, alongside Timothée Chalamet. But this has been her best and most challenging role to date. As the troubled teen Rue, she brings real depth and emotion to her character. She also sings on the show's soundtrack, with singer-songwriter Labrinth holding her in high esteem for her work: “Zendaya was able to interpret ever vibe and everything I was doing. She could take on anything.”

Leonardo DiCaprio is a big fan

If you're still unsure about whether to tune in, then maybe you should let Hollywood's finest persuade you to take out that Now TV membership: during his press tour for new Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Leo - who is notoriously hard to interview, on account of him being a firmly closed book - was elated to answer the question about what he'd been watching this summer. “I just saw Euphoria, which is amazing," he told Variety. "That show is amazing.” Need we say more?

It's based on an Israeli show of the same name

2019's Euphoria is an American adaptation of an Israeli series from 2012. This new version of the show is directed and written by Sam Levinson (Assassination Nation), who previously stated that he used some of his experience as a teenage drug addict to inform main character Rue's scenes. However, Israeli writer and producer on the 2012 Euphoria, Ron Lesham, also serves as a writer and executive producer on the newer season, too.

It's been deemed just a bit raunchy

There are plenty of explicit scenes in the show, with some deemed a bit too much for the small screen. In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the show was supposed to open with Rue's mother giving birth to her in the delivery room, with the camera eventually panning down between her legs, but it ended up on the cutting room floor for something a bit more TV-friendly. Phew.

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Some of the scenes were considered too risqué for even the actors - Brian 'Astro' Bradley was due to take on the role of McKay but apparently wasn't comfortable filming certain scenes, so was replaced with Aglee Smith. But they also tackle plenty of interesting topics, such as climate change and drug addiction.

Labrinth created the soundtrack

And speaking of Labrinth, the 30-year-old singer has been busy in the studio as of late, not just helping to create Beyonce's hit song from the live-action remake of The Lion King, ‘Spirit', but also writing the score for Euphoria. The music is so important to the vibe of the series it almost becomes a character itself, feature elements of gospel, trap and soul. Labrinth said director Sam Levinson told him he wanted “a score that feels like Yeezus, Edward Scissorhands, you, Depeche Mode, and all these mad inspirations”. Easy, then…

It's produced by Drake

But don't worry - it doesn't seem like Drake's days as Jimmi brooks on Degrassi have influenced any of his creative decisions here. He and his manager, Future the Prince, serve as executive producers on the show, and it seems he took quite the hands-on approach. “Drake came on set a few times,” Algee Smith (The Hate U Give), who plays McKay on the show, told TMZ. “He threw us a wrap party; he gave away, I don't want to say how much bread he gave away but he gave us some money at the wrap party. It was hefty.”

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Did we mention Zendaya is in it?

We did, didn't we. Sorry - she's just very good. But, there are plenty of other great women in Euphoria too. There are the more familiar faces, such as Maude Apatow (This Is 40, Girls), Sydney Sweeney (The Handmaid's Tale) and Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time, When They See Us). And then there are the faces you need to familiarise yourself with, such as model and actress Barbie Ferreira, Alexa Demie (Mid 90s) and Hunter Schafer, all of whom we think are going to be kind of a big deal this year.

Jacob Elordi plays a bad guy

If you don't know who Jacob Elrodi is then girl, where have you been this last year? He's only the hottest new internet boyfriend since Noah Centineo swept Lara Condor off her feet in To All The Boys I've Loved Before. The star and heartthrob of 2018's surprise romcom hit The Kissing Booth, Elordi could have been gently placed in the category of Hollywood soft boys alongside Centineo, Timothee Chalamet and Harry Styles, but his role in Euphoria firmly boots him out. He's a powerhouse.

As bad boy Nate Jacobs, Elordi sheds his squeaky clean image and becomes something much darker - from his relationship with his girlfriend to his relationship with his dad and even with himself, Nate's life is full of toxicity and conflict. And Elordi's so dedicated to his character that in one particularly gruelling scene, he managed to give himself concussion: "I was bleeding. I got a concussion. I ended up throwing up after work"” he told EW. “It was gnarly. It was really, really gnarly.” And while there's no way to fall in love with his character, who is truly awful, you can fall in love with all 6”4 of Elordi, right here on his perfectly delightful Instagram.

A second season is already confirmed

Once you've finished the first season of Euphoria, you'll no doubt be craving more, Luckily, season two was confirmed last month, and it looks like all the original cast will be returning, if Twitter's anything to go by. It seems Levinson already has a plan for the second season too, revealing he'll likely be delving deeper into characters like Maude Apatow's Lexi, and the town's local sweetheart drug dealer Fezco, played by newcomer Angus Cloud: “I'm just so enamored by Fezco,” Levinson gushed. “His story didn't belong in season one, it belongs in season two.” Can't wait! Euphoria is now streaming on Sky Atlantic and Now TV.

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