Former Disney star Zendaya is used to sunny roles representing ideal teenage experiences, but her next role is exploring a darker take on what it means to be a teenage girl. This summer, she appears in a new HBO series that is far from her dancing queen role on Shake It Up and girl-next-door character in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The teaser for HBO's Euphoria promises a dark teen story, so in case you're longing for TV drama during most shows' summer hiatuses, here's what we know about the upcoming series.
According to HBO's official page for the series, Euphoria "follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma, and social media." Based on an Israeli series with the same title, Euphoria has a cast including Zendaya, model Hunter Schafer, Maude Apatow (Girls, This Is 40), Jacob Elordi (The Kissing Booth), and Sydney Sweeney (Sharp Objects). Zendaya headlines as 17-year-old drug addict Rue, who says in the teaser, "I promise you if I could be a different person, I would."
The preview clip for the 10-episode series opens with Rue running through a neighborhood and then standing in place in a busy high school hallway. As the teaser continues to flash back to her running, she explains her first point, saying that she'd be different because "they," presumably her family, want her to be. "But here's the thing," she says in a voiceover. "One day I just showed up without a map or a compass, and at some point, you have to make a choice about who you are and what you want. And therein lies the catch."
Rue's revelation plays alongside glimpses at her teen contemporaries, showing girls dressing in personality-defining outfits and different couples in intimate scenarios. Given the teaser's darker tones and straight-faced characters, it looks like making it to prom or graduation won't be the easy solution for happiness among the Euphoria crowd.
Euphoria's original series focused on a group of teenagers in the 1990s, but as the HBO site mentions social media and the preview includes a shot with a laptop, a present-day setting seems all but confirmed for the new Euphoria. To top off its dark insight into teenagers' lives, the series even counts former Degrassi star Drake as an executive producer. If the show has the approval of a Degrassi High alum, it must say something poignant, right?
In an interview with Vanity Fair earlier this year, Zendaya said about the series:
To me, Euphoria is one of the most raw, honest looks at what it looks like now to be a young person. It’s definitely different than what I’ve ever done before, and there are going to be some themes that are tougher to deal with. But at the end of the day, it’s somebody’s reality, and that’s the story we’re telling. I don’t know what it’s like to have had Instagram be a part of my life from the beginning of time. It’s just a different beast.
It won't be the lighthearted content some people may need during the summer, but Euphoria appears to be a powerful portrait of relatable, modern teens. Euphoria premieres on HBO on Sunday, June 16.