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The Reality In HBO’s “Euphoria”

Photo by: HBO

By Danielle Merrill

This is an opinion column.

Despite the fact that it was met with a lot of controversy, Zendaya’s role as Rue in HBO’s “Euphoria” is crucial in understanding drug addiction and other problems that adolescents may face.

The drama series depicts high school students and their varying relationships with sex, love, drugs, mental health and friendship. “Euphoria” presents topics that may be seen as taboo although there are youth who struggle with the same hardships presented in the series.

However, some critics feel the show is not suitable for its audience.

In a negative critique, Tim Winter, the President of The Parents Television Council said that “Euphoria” intentionally marketed “extremely graphic adult content – sex, violence, profanity and drug use – to teens and preteens.”

But, addiction doesn’t choose its victims based on age, and problems that teenagers face throughout high school and college should receive the same amount of concern as issues that adults face throughout their lifetime.

In “Euphoria,” seventeen-year-old Rue, played by Zendaya, is a recovering drug addict who has recently left rehab and is struggling to navigate through daily life as a teen. She openly suffers from poor mental health, and may even have trauma linked to her rehab visit and the various drug withdrawals she has faced.

Her friends, on the other hand, not only deal with issues similar to Rue’s, but also have problems with identity, sexual relationships, social media, drugs, and bullying.

Photo by: HBO

During her Emmy acceptance speech this year, Zendaya said that although “Euphoria” isn’t the most promising portrayal of the younger generation, there is “hope in the young people”, and she could not be more right.

If teenagers are facing serious issues like those depicted in Euphoria, we as a society need to have more resources available to combat such hardships.

Adequate sexual education, suicide prevention, mental health and addiction counseling and information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are just a few places to start when talking about what our future should hold for minors.

If we had more of these things, maybe teenagers like the ones in “Euphoria” wouldn’t have to suffer through drug withdrawals alone, sexual trauma alone, anxiety related to identity crises alone or deal with their mental health alone.

That’s why “Euphoria” exists, to show others an honest portrayal of the issues some teenagers face. It’s not just “graphic,” or just a TV show, it very well may be a harsh reality for many teens across the U.S.

If we force teenagers to be alone through all of this and offer no support, of course they’re going to fall into bad habits; everyone does when they don’t have access to help.

How do we expect teenagers to deal with such serious issues alone?

We need to do better.

Edited By: Alivia Moore, Diane Mwai, Ryan Michaels & John H. Glenn

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Made By Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham