What You Need to Know About “Euphoria,” HBO’s First Teen Drama Series

If you have a teenager at home, there’s no doubt you’re probably all too familiar with the huge variety of teen drama series that are currently offered by streaming TV services. Teens don’t watch TV the way we did, and why should they? They have the luxury of binge watching anything from the teen reality offerings on MTV (think 16 and Pregnant), to dystopian or vampiric laced dramas and high school romcoms on Netflix, to reruns of the ever popular Gossip Girls and the like on Amazon Prime.

Teen viewers are big business for streaming services, partly because they self-evangelize what and when they watch, sharing across their social media channels how much they’re liking a certain show, thus promoting the heck of it, and spreading the popularity of a TV series as if it was a homecoming court race.

Euphoria is NOT a Typical Teen TV Drama

It’s no coincidence then, that perhaps the undisputed king of all TV cable networks, HBO (the one that year after year produces drama series that win Emmys as fast as they can give them away), is jumping on the teen drama series bandwagon. And it’s also safe to say that HBO is not jumping lightly into this genre, as can be seen by the chosen producers and stars, as well as the controversial premise of the show, which is named “Euphoria.”

From just the Euphoria trailer that been has released, it’s abundantly clear that HBO is teen fan hungry, and more than eager to grab their chunk of the teen viewership pie.

So what’s the new teen drama show “Euphoria” about, and what can parents and teens expect from it?

The show, which will premiere on June 16 right after the very popular adult drama Big Little Lies, is based loosely on an Israeli teen drama of the same name. It’s being executively produced by Drake, yes that Drake- the rapper, producer, and former Degrassi star, and is written and co-produced by Sam Levinson.

And besides bringing in heavy hitters behind the camera, Euphoria will feature a formidably famous cast that most teens will recognize, including former Disney Channel star Zendaya as the main character, and an ensemble cast that includes Maude Apatow, Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Hunter Schafer, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney.

But although it stars some former very bubble gum teen actors and actresses, the show is very much not teen bubble gum. According to HBO’s official page for the series, Euphoria “follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma, and social media.”

Euphoria will show teens in “adult” situations

This is not a goofy, sentimental coming of age, or awkward teen years kind of show, where the biggest dilemma is who the prom queen will be. Rather, Euphoria plans to go places that few (if any) teen TV dramas have gone, and it will be able to do so both visually and “script”urally so to speak,  because it’s on HBO, not network television. 

So what exactly can we expect from Euphoria? Based on the trailer, and the fact its creators say it does have many similarities to the original Israeli version, we can expect to see teenagers in very adult situations, including the main character Rue played by Zendaya, saying “”This is the feeling I’ve been searching for my entire life,” in which she is referring to how she feels under the influence of drugs.

We can also expect there to be nudity, sex, alcohol use and abuse, social media related influences and conflicts, as well as some serious dark and potentially edgy situations and other traumas that often beset today’s teenagers.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Zendaya said about the show,

To me, Euphoria is one of the most raw, honest looks at what it looks like now to be a young person. It’s definitely different than what I’ve ever done before, and there are going to be some themes that are tougher to deal with. But at the end of the day, it’s somebody’s reality, and that’s the story we’re telling. I don’t know what it’s like to have had Instagram be a part of my life from the beginning of time. It’s just a different beast.

Although there are no ratings for Euphoria (or any HBO series for that matter) in the same way there are for movies, there are “pay television content descriptors” shown right before each episode that give parents and teens some idea of the content in that particular episode. For example, you may see an “N” for nudity, or “SSC” for strong sexual content.

Parents may want to preview the first episode of Euphoria to make sure its content is age appropriate for their teens, because age 13 is a far cry from 18 when it comes to generalizing what “all” teens can watch and process. And if your teens are just looking for a cheerful, nutty, summertime show that features young adults in “High School Musical” type scenes, Euphoria may not be for them.

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About Melissa Fenton

Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer and adjunct librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Find her writing all over the internet, but her work mostly on the dinner table. Find her on Facebook 
and on twitter at @melissarunsaway

Read more posts by Melissa

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