HBO debuted its teen drama Euphoria, revealing a graphic, nightmarish world of sexual exploitation, rape, degenerate drug use, and addiction featuring a former Disney child star Zendaya.
Euphoriafollows a group of high school students, all with seriously troubled lives filled with vice and exploitation. Leading the cast, former teen star Zendaya is featured as a teen returning to school from a summer spent in rehab for drug abuse.
Instead of coming home for a fresh start, Zendaya's character, Rue, immediately goes back to her drug-abusing ways by seeking out her dealer and then working to fool her mother into thinking she is back on the strait and narrow.
But Rue's drug abuse is far from the only controversial part of this debut episode. Rue delivers a narration on how watching porn is "normal" for teens and using the proclamation to excuse a scene where a boy begins chocking a girl during sex because he saw it on a porn video.
Speaking of porn, there is also a scene with "revenge porn," featuring high schoolers watching a sex video of a teen girl released as revenge against her. And there is also a young girl who is a virgin and who is shamed into having sex.
But perhaps the most shocking segment of the episode is the statutory rape scene of a transgender teenager by an older man. Trans character "Jules" is portrayed as a troubled boy who poses as a girl and who contacts older men for sex via an Internet app. In the scene, Jules meets the older man in a hotel room, and the two have graphic anal sex. The older man (actor Eric Dane) is also shown onscreen with a fully erect (prosthetic) penis.
The sexual encounter is so rough that the teen is left crying in pain.
"I'm willing to do anything that's critical to the story and crucial to creating a very real and truthful feel to how the story is gonna go down," Dane toldEntertainment Weekly of the full-frontal nude sex scene. "I just don't see how you shoot a scene like that without showing nudity. And, you know, it kind of matches the stakes. The stakes are so high, you can't hold anything back, really.
Euphoria attempts to portray all these damaged characters and their depraved antics as entirely normal teenaged behavior. Meanwhile, in the real world, surveys show teens are having less sex, and engaging in less drug abuse.