The effect of HBO’s Euphoria on its teen audience

The effect of HBO’s Euphoria on its teen audience

Emily Osit, Editor

Ever try to log into HBO max on a Sunday night and not being able to? Well that’s because millions of people are also logging on to watch the hit show, Euphoria. With well known stars like Zendaya and Eric Dane, and upcoming stars like Sydney Sweeney and Angus Cloud, the show has become one HBO’s most popular original series. This recent Sunday, February 27th, 6.6 million viewers tuned in for the Season 2 Finale. 


The show portrays a group of highschool students in the made-up suburban town East Highland. The students deal with issues from drug abuse, gender dysphoria, to best-friend drama. The show, directed and produced by Sam Levinson, is well-known for its iconic aesthetic and cinematography. Euphoria is also known for its soundtrack, which the songs are mostly written and sang by Labrinth. 


Thousands of fan accounts have been created since the start of the show in 2019, creating conspiracy theories, fan edits and more, showing their love for the series. @euphoriiea on twitter explained how, “I think for me euphoria shows teen problems and life in its raw state of ‘you get me,’ there literally is no filter [which] makes it honest and real. Other teen shows for me don’t explore teen lives deeply, they just skim over the surface, so it still makes shows lifestyles seem desirable to viewers” 


Another account, @euphoriasoft also shared their love, “I really loved the use of different colors and music throughout the show. The purple lights and glitter aesthetic was really pretty, and the soundtrack was amazing. My favorite artistic part would have to be either the cinematography or the makeup.”


However, this show is not for everyone, and is rated TVMA, for mature audiences. The show is extremely inappropriate for most age groups, and many fans are upset over the sheer amount of nudity. Along with this, parents and experts are concerned that the show glamorizes drug use, and encourages their impressionable audience to repeat the character’s actions. 


A representative from D.A.R.E., which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, explained that “rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behavior, HBO’s television drama, Euphoria, chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world.”


The representative went on to explain that “it is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking, rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.”


Many students and teachers at SWHS have watched or simply heard about the show as well. Opinions are pretty mixed, and junior Jack Huot shared his thoughts. “I think that the way it represents highschoolers is flawed, because it inaccurately portrays their lives. Most high schoolers cannot relate to the issues and plot for each character on the show.” Huot went on to explain how “although the show offers visual scenarios that are realistic, some of the scenes are extremely glamorized, encouraging drug use for their audience” 


A point that is often brought up when Euphora is discussed is the setting of the show. The show is set in high school, which many think is a problem. When high schoolers see that other high schoolers are doing drugs and illegal things, they may also think that they can do that same. English teacher Ms. Larson expressed how she thinks the issue is “taking place in a high school setting is misleading. At a minimum, have it set place in a college.” Although all college situations are different, the general college experience is much more similar to Euphoria than high school is.

So, the question still remains, does Euphoria, and other similar shows promote drug use for their impressionable teen audiences? Is the deeper message hidden behind the glitter and makeup? Every person interprets media differently, so maybe it’s up to each individual watcher. Or maybe creator Sam Levinson should work harder to incorporate a positive message for the show’s impressionable audience.