Helped by star Zendaya, whose social media post prior to the premiere reminding viewers of the show’s mature themes has more than 200,000 likes, and a spectacular lead-in from “Big Little Lies,” the show premiered to solid, if unspectacular linear numbers.
The 10 p.m. airing garnered 577,000 total viewers, less than half of the 1.5 million who tuned in to watch Meryl Streep bite her crucifix necklace in the “Big Little Lies” episode just before. However, “Euphoria” performed much better on HBO GO and HBO NOW. The viewership figure almost doubled to around 1 million when those two platforms were taken into account.
The second episode of “Big Little Lies” saw a slight 7% rise from the premiere (1.5 million as opposed to 1.4 million) and ended up at over 2 million viewers with the addition of a first replay and preliminary viewing on HBO GO and NOW. Episode 2 was also the series’ second most watched after only the season 1 finale.
Adapted from an Israeli teen drama, “Euphoria” explores the lives of high school kids who are grappling with social pressures, burgeoning sexualities and addiction. Chief among them is Rue, played by Zendaya, whose birth is intercut with news footage from 9/11 in the premiere to illustrate that disaster has followed her all her life.
In her review of the show, Variety critic Caroline Framke called it a “wild, unsettling ride.” Of the premiere, Framke said that it is “so aggressively jarring that it would be completely understandable if viewers tuned out just to avoid the sheer stress of it all.”