Euphoria, an adaptation of the Israeli show, follows a group of teenagers exploring drugs, sex, and trauma throughout high school. The popular show premiered in June of 2019 but has recently come under fire for its portrayal of drug use.
On January 29th, 2022, a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) representative made a statement to TMZ complaining that, “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" (Placido).
Founded in 1983, D.A.R.E. 's mission is to teach students to steer clear of drugs and alcohol, yet has famously been accused of sparking students’ curiosity rather than scaring them. Similarly, Euphoria has been accused of the same misleading sentiment, making D.A.R.E.’s criticism appear hypocritical.
The statement by D.A.R.E. ignited the debate over whether the show is inappropriate for the audience which it is marketed to—high school students. Directors say the show is intended to condemn drug use, and according to Dani Di Placido, a commentator for Forbes, its glamorizing of sex, drugs, and alcohol has been taken the wrong way.
Rue, the main character in Euphoria, has a serious drug addiction along with other mental health issues. Zendaya, who plays Rue, took to Instagram to say, "...Euphoria is for mature audiences. This season, maybe even more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch.”
While the show is graphic and intense, the cast and crew have taken measures to warn the audience. A disclaimer about mental health along with the phone number for the National Alliance of Mental Health is shown ahead of each episode which deals with mental health issues.
As Zendaya commented, Euphoria is for a mature audience, and viewer discretion should be advised. However, the intended message of the show is to spark conversation about mental health, drug use, and other generally taboo topics, and in creating an explicit show, the producers did just that.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Alliance of Mental Health at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).