[ARTS OPINION] Euphoria harms teens’ perceptions of adolescence

The+HBO+Max+TV+series+is+an+American+adaptation+of+the+Israeli+show+of+the+same+name.+It+is+centered+around+a+group+of+high+school+students+who+navigate+relationships+in+a+world+filled+with+drugs%2C+alcohol%2C+trauma%2C+sex%2C+and+social+media.+The+series%2C+written+by+Sam+Levinson%2C+premiered+June+16%2C+2019.

Fair Use: Euphoria at HBO.com

The HBO Max TV series is an American adaptation of the Israeli show of the same name. It is centered around a group of high school students who navigate relationships in a world filled with drugs, alcohol, trauma, sex, and social media. The series, written by Sam Levinson, premiered June 16, 2019.

Euphoria is a top-rated series among viewers across the world. The show is known for its dazzling makeup, eccentric outfits, and mesmerizing scenes filled with moody lighting, praiseworthy soundtracks, and glitter. Teenagers and young adults claim the show is desirable to watch due to its raw and realistic portrayal of high school. Even though Euphoria may represent a tiny portion of various teenagers’ high school experiences, it is highly dramatized and highlights the usually infrequent substance abuse and frequent hookups in high school.

The HBO Max TV series is an American adaptation of the Israeli show of the same name. It is centered around a group of high school students who navigate relationships in a world filled with drugs, alcohol, trauma, sex, and social media. The series, written by Sam Levinson, premiered Jun. 16, 2019.

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.”

In January 2022, a representative from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, also known as D.A.R.E., spoke to T.M.Z. about their take on Euphoria after the second season aired. “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 show depicts intense drug use among teenagers struggling with their mental health through scenes raved about on social media. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics found that 62% of teenagers in 12th grade have abused alcohol, and 50% of teenagers have misused a drug at least once. The alluring representation of substance use in Euphoria can only increase these numbers, as teens have nothing but praise for the series. The fear is that teenagers will resort to harmful outlets presented on the show, such as substance abuse, to cope with their own daily struggles.

The Institute for Family Studies finds that in 2019, 38.4% of high schoolers reported they have had sex, whereas, in 1991, 54% of high school students were sexually active. America has been witnessing a sex decline since the 90s. Euphoria‘s magnification of teenage sex is misleading and dupes young viewers into thinking they need to be sexually active during high school, as one of the characters, Kat, is ridiculed for still being a virgin at 16 and decides to lose her virginity to a stranger at a party. This derails the encouraged practice of safe sex and puts teens at an increased risk of health complications such as STDs and teenage pregnancy.

Due to Euphoria‘s exaggerated sequences of substance abuse and its effects and flawed representation of sexually active teenagers, the show misguides viewers’ perception of appropriate habits for high schoolers. Even though the series was labeled as “beautiful” by The New Yorker and their millions of adolescent supporters, the chance of Euphoria‘s audience misinterpreting their message is far too significant to ignore.

D.A.R.E. proposed a collaboration on the show to make it more suitable for its viewers: “We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly.”

With these possible adjustments, Euphoria could transform into a heartbreaking and artistic show that refrains from displaying hostile sequences for its young audience.

 

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