Euphoria offers a darker side of Zendaya

Zendaya understands that her character’s chemical cravings work in service of a spiritual one. Picture: Supplied
Zendaya understands that her character’s chemical cravings work in service of a spiritual one. Picture: Supplied
Available on Showmax
3 and a half stars out of 5

I went into watching HBO’s new teen drama Euphoria thinking that it was for teens but, boy, it is not ... Euphoria is for parents and those undecided on whether procreation is for them.

If you’re a parent, chances are you’re going to need some calming meds. And if you’re not a parent – well, this is some great contraception.

In the pilot episode, protagonist Rue Bennett (Zendaya) explains that she was born only days before 9/11; the collisions of planes into buildings were her generation’s first film and political events.

Seventeen years later, she is a drug addict, preferring pills, mostly, which she buys (on credit) from a regretful dealer and his underage face-tattooed partner.

When Rue takes drugs, she is overcome with a rush of the opposite of the show’s title.

She self-medicates, an overcorrection to what she had to take as a young child to help manage obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and a personality disorder.

At the beginning of the show, she has just returned from rehab after her younger sister Gia (Storm Reid) found her overdosed.

And she had by no means got clean in rehab.

The urine of friends, kept warm in little pharmaceutical bottles strapped to her thigh, tricks her mother’s at-home drug tests.

While the show styles itself as a Gen Z exposé, the president of the Parents Television Council warned that it “appears to be overtly, intentionally marketing extremely graphic adult content – sex, violence, profanity and drug use – to teens and preteens”.

But Euphoria actually only destroys the innocence of adults who would like to hold on to the illusion that these things aren’t part of everyday high-school life.

Former Disney Channel star Zendaya is the best part of Euphoria as she impressively takes on this dark new role.

She completely understands the neediness of Rue, who really wants nothing more than to be loved and searches for that love by giving in to her chemical needs.

Euphoria isn’t as coherent as one would like a teen drama to be, but it clearly sends the message that repressing the instincts of children is disastrous.

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