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HBO defends 'Euphoria' against 'toxic' production claims

Less than a week after the "Euphoria" season two finale premiered, sources from the set have made claims about their behind the scenes experience.
Zendaya and Hunter Schafer on the set of HBO's "Euphoria."
Zendaya and Hunter Schafer on the set of HBO's "Euphoria."Eddy Chen / HBO
/ Source: TODAY

Last Sunday, the second season of “Euphoria” came to a dramatic end after a highly anticipated eight-episode return. Amid the response to the record-breaking season came allegations that the show’s set was a "toxic" environment for extras in the series.

HBO has responded to the claims, telling TODAY in a statement, “The well-being of cast and crew on our productions is always a top priority. The production was in full compliance with all safety guidelines and guild protocols."

"It’s not uncommon for drama series to have complex shoots, and COVID protocols add an additional layer," the statement continued. "We maintain an open line of communication with all the guilds, including SAG-AFTRA. There were never any formal inquiries raised.”

On Friday, March 4, The Daily Beast reported claims that the work environment on the show were “toxic,” especially when it came to extras on set. The report alleged that workdays would “sometimes stretch to 18 hours” with “several complaints” made to SAG-AFTRA. Additional claims shared that extras were not provided meals in a timely matter or allowed bathroom breaks.

“It was the most disorganized set that I’ve ever been a part of because I don’t think anybody knew what was going on,” one person told the Daily Beast. “There were times after 14 hours we were told, ‘This is the last scene, we’re done after lunch,’ we took lunch, waited around two and a half hours, and then we went back to set. It felt toxic to me because I don’t think anybody was really happy to be there.”

Maude Apatow, Barbie Ferreira, Sophia Rose Wilson, Alexa Demie, and Sydney Sweeney in season two of "Euphoria."
Maude Apatow, Barbie Ferreira, Sophia Rose Wilson, Alexa Demie, and Sydney Sweeney in season two of "Euphoria."Eddy Chen / HBO

Since the season debuted on January 9, multiple cast members have opened up about their behind-the-scenes experiences on set, as well as their character's journeys in the sophomore season of the series.

Social media criticism for the show’s creator, Sam Levinson, followed early episodes of the season due to the amount of nudity featured on the show. Sweeney clarified in an interview with the Independent in January that she never felt uncomfortable during shooting because of conversations she had with Levinson directly.

“There are moments where Cassie was supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, ‘I don’t really think that’s necessary here.’ He was like, ‘OK, we don’t need it,’” Sweeney explained. “I’ve never felt like Sam has pushed it on me or was trying to get a nude scene into an HBO show. When I didn’t want to do it, he didn’t make me.”

Fans also expressed criticism about Barbie Ferreira's character Kat Hernandez's storyline and lack of presence in the second season of the show, especially after the growth her character experienced in season one.

Ferreira spoke to TODAY earlier this month to shine a light on Kat's storyline, explaining, "I think what was hard about season one was that me and Sam were trying to figure out how to continue a storyline that kind of had a beginning, middle and end of sorts. We didn’t want to be redundant."

Last month, “Euphoria” was renewed for a third season, but no production dates or details have been announced.