‘Unsatisfied’ Stars and Network Reportedly Led to ‘Euphoria’ Season Three Delay


HBO made headlines earlier this week when it announced that the hotly anticipated third season of Euphoria had been indefinitely put on hold. The massively popular drama, which follows a group of troubled high schoolers led by drug-addicted Rue (Zendaya), was set to begin production in the next few weeks. Now, a report from Variety has shed more light on HBO’s decision to delay (or possibly abandon) the juggernaut series.

The network’s official statement to Variety reads as follows: “HBO and [Euphoria creator] Sam Levinson remain committed to making an exceptional third season. In the interim, we are allowing our in-demand cast to pursue other opportunities.”

But behind the scenes, considerations are vastly different. The outlet claims that “no one at HBO is at all sure a third season of Euphoria will ever come to fruition given the disparate visions for the show’s next chapter.”

Much of the consternation reportedly stemmed from Zendaya herself, who an anonymous HBO executive told Variety was unsatisfied with Levinson’s vision for the third season.

The Dune star was reportedly unsure of Levinson’s plan for a five-year time jump; and was particularly rankled that her character would be sidelined to make room for co-stars Jacob Elordi and Sydney Sweeney, both of whom are rapidly ascending Hollywood’s A-list.

“In Levinson’s first pass, [Zendaya] had been relegated to the background in a somewhat surprising storyline about her working as a private detective, which HBO had immediately vetoed,” the outlet reported.

Zendaya, who’s an active producer on the series, came to Levinson and pitched him several ideas for where Rue’s arc could go in the third season. The two eventually moved forward with a plan to make Rue, now in her early 20s and successfully sober, a pregnancy surrogate.

“But insiders say the new scripts simply didn’t feel like the show tonally,” Variety reported, saying that executives were deeply “unsatisfied” with Levinson and Zendaya’s direction.

The disagreements between the network and the creatives became so pervasive that, at one point, talks were held about Levinson leaving the series altogether. That was quickly scuttled, though, as Levinson both writes and directs each episode and is considered the series’ mastermind. (He also spearheaded the network’s troubled series The Idol, which suffered from similar behind-the-scenes drama.)

Levinson is now taking a third pass at the material. Euphoria’s stars were told that they’ll be notified by October 1 with a solid plan for filming in 2025.

HBO is bullish about getting a third season out of the show due to its success with the elusive Gen Z audience. Zendaya, Elordi, and Sweeney are also reportedly dead-set on finishing the show with a proper third season, rather than a special or a movie; but it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to make time in their schedules.

Sweeney recently became a surprise box office draw with her romantic comedy Anyone But You, while Elordi impressed audiences with his roles in Priscilla and Saltburn. To help secure the stars, HBO has already slashed Euphoria’s third-season episode count from eight to six. (They’re reportedly open to adding more if Levinson feels it necessary.)

Meanwhile, many HBO suits are holding their breath to see how Zendaya’s new movie, Challengers, will fare when it’s released in April.

The tennis drama, directed by Luca Guadanigno, is the first major, non-franchise film carried by Zendaya. If it doesn’t perform well, it could indicate that the public appetite for the actor might not necessitate a costly third season. However, if Challengers performs well, we’ll likely see a third season of Euphoria much sooner than currently expected.

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