Are your kids watching Euphoria? What to know


Rebecca on Feb. 21, 2022

Heard of Euphoria?

It’s a highly dramatised, glamourised story about American high school teens. It’s written by adults for an adult audience – but it’s also watched by young people. The lead star is former Disney channel star Zendaya, now incredibly famous and starring in recent blockbusters Dune and the latest Spider-Man films, who has a youth fan base from shows like Disney’s Shake It Up.

This blog was written by Rebecca in our Communications team in consultation with Classification Advisors. At the time of writing six episodes of Euphoria season two have been released on NEON. Commentary here is based on those episodes and on Euphoria season one.

*Spoiler alert* This blog post includes plot spoilers for Euphoria so proceed with caution. We also talk about violence, drug abuse, sexual themes and sexual abuse.

While it may have a young person aesthetic the content is definitely for a more mature 18 years and older audience. So what’s happening in the show?

Themes cover the spectrum of mature content from hard drug use to graphic violence and sex.

The hard drug use and a teenager’s addiction storyline is hard to believe. The adult relationship content includes a story line of a father having sex with a teenager and filming the sex without consent. There’s a lot of sexual content including sex scenes with full frontal nudity. The violence extends into graphic territory and in the first episode of season two a young teenager kills someone with a hammer.

“Pushing the boundaries of belief…” Why is the show so compelling?

It resonates with young people and it is fast becoming (arguably already is) a cultural phenomenon. So while the characters are obviously not realistic a lot of the content may really resonate in some way, even if it is at the extreme end.

Rangatahi can relate to those lingering emotions that follow the characters throughout the episodes. While the storylines are unbelievable, young people can see the struggles that the characters are having with their parents, friends, romantic partners… and see how the characters are responding. Remember how big and all-consuming everything felt when it happened to you as a young person?

Taking the time to talk with your young person and encourage them to critically think about characters vs real life will help them to think about appropriate role models. The series captures how hard it is to navigate relationship challenges and there is truth in that – especially for rangatahi. Talk about what they found upsetting or intense, how does it relate to their own life? It might spark a chat that means you can help them with other stuff going on in their lives. Take an open conversation approach. Don’t seek to judge or get emotional when broaching the subject of whether they’ve watched it. Be the person they want to talk to if they’re disturbed by anything they’re watching.

Want to know more about talking with young people about what they’re watching? Check out this resource:

NEON has given Euphoria a classification of 18VLSC – this is the strongest possible classification that can be applied under the Broadcasting Standards Authority with the specific warnings for Violence, Language, and Sexual Material. You can expect to see NZ ratings and classifications in future under a recent law change.

The Neon show page also carries the following viewer discretion warning: This series contains disturbing themes including sexual assault and self-harm, and strong depictions of sex, drug use and violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

Further reading

Euphoria on Common Sense media NEON

Brain development – how it works, why it matters

Streaming providers are now required to display NZ ratings

Help information

At the Classification Office we know that everyone has a line. What might seem like an easy watch for one person could be different for another. If the content of this blog has made you feel uncomfortable please reach out. Talk to your friends or whānau or you can free call or text 1737 for more support. Wondering who your young person can chat with? YouthlineNZ is a great support for rangatahi.

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