Remember The D.A.R.E. Program? Well It's Still Around And Its Leaders Aren't Happy With Euphoria

Alexa Demie and Barbie Ferreira in Euphoria
(Image credit: HBO)

Euphoria isn’t afraid to shock its audiences. The hit HBO and HBO Max drama portrays teenage characters in a variety of graphic and mature situations, including run-ins with illegal drugs like coke and molly. Despite its underage protagonists, Euphoria is definitely not a show aimed at today’s youth - but that hasn’t stopped the D.A.R.E program --yes that D.A.R.E program -- from speaking out after the release of Season 2

The D.A.R.E program is still around, and it’s far from dormant. Now, according to TMZ, representatives for the D.A.R.E program are claiming that Euphoria contains ‘glamorized’ depictions of drug use that may negatively influence the perception of young viewers. The organization said: 

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 D.A.R.E program’s beef with Euphoria is entirely in keeping with the group’s mission statement, but, in the interest of playing devil’s advocate, Euphoria does not present itself as a program for children or even teenagers. The show has a TV-MA rating, and each episode is accompanied by a title card that contains content warnings for topics like violence, sex, and drug use - as well as the age-old maxim ‘viewer discretion is advised.’ 

Even Zendaya, who won an Emmy for her performance as Rue, warns her fans on Instagram about the show’s triggering situations. It can’t be said that viewers do not have any warning about the possibly upsetting plotlines or really, really graphic nudity

In one aspect, however, D.A.R.E may have a point. It’s unlikely that many parents would let their kids watch Euphoria, but today’s youth is much more internet savvy than previous generations. Shows intended for mature audiences are more accessible than ever, even to underage viewers who may take away the wrong message. While many teen drama series like Euphoria contain adult themes, HBO’s hit has certainly pushed the most boundaries. 

Social media hasn’t helped, either. The ever-ubiquitous TikTok has popularized the fictional ‘Euphoria High,’ with many users parodying the show’s dark material. TikTok’s minimum age is 13, meaning that children in middle school could be exposed to Euphoria’s mature sense of humor and adult situations (including an animated Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson hook-up sequence). 

The D.A.R.E program has expressed a desire to meet with the producers of Euphoria to address the issue. Of course, that brings up another question: is it HBO’s responsibility to censor shows that are not meant for children? Does the inclusion of school-age characters necessitate a more delicate approach? HBO has not yet issued a response to D.A.R.E’s statement, so we'll have to wait and see what the outcome is here. 

Haven’t made up your mind? You can stream Euphoria on HBO Max and decide for yourself. 

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.