HBO’s Euphoria: Parents guide — Here’s what to know about the adult themes that earned the series a TV-MA rating

Zendaya in HBO's Euphoria
HBO’s Euphoria is rated TV-MA. Pic credit: HBO

Euphoria is a teen drama series that follows Rue Bennet (Zendaya), a 17-year-old struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues. The HBO series is  Sam Levinson’s adaptation of the Israeli TV show by Ron Leshem, Daphna Levin, and Tmira Yardeni, for an American audience.

Euphoria’s leading characters are teenagers and the series focuses on the coming-of-age experiences of teenagers searching for identity, love and friendship. But despite being a show about teenagers, Euphoria focuses intensely on mature themes and the extremely mature content features strong language, masturbation, sex, sexual abuse, sexual violence, violence, misogyny, self-harm, and rape, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

The show is thus appropriately rated TV-MA, meaning that it is intended for mature audience. Many parents will, therefore,  not want their pre-teen and young teenage children to watch the series. Some parents may also want to watch the first few episodes of the series before deciding whether to allow their older teens to tune in.

Regarding what to expect of the series for the purpose of parental guidance, here is everything you need to know:

Explicit language

The series depicts young people using foul language with explicit sexual references, including frequent references to sexual and excretory functions. It shows boys watching porn and making derogatory remarks about the opposite sex.


Several scenes depict acts of gratuitous violence, graphic violence and gore. A particularly distressing scene shows a girl engaging in a gory act of self-harm.

Drug use

The series, which premiered on HBO on June 16, 2019, introduces Rue Bennett (Zendaya) who goes to rehab following a drug overdose. But after leaving rehab she relapses into substance abuse and goes to extreme lengths to cover up her addiction. The first episode includes scenes showing teenagers getting high and overdosing, snorting and shooting drugs.

Sexual content and nudity

The show has several graphic scenes in which actors engage in masturbation and perform sex acts with the display of full rear and frontal nudity, including close-ups of genitals. Some of the more disturbing scenes depict bondage and sadomasochistic sex acts, sodomy, sexual assault and statutory rape.

In one scene, a young person chokes his partner while having sex. One scene shows pornographic videos, including a depiction of oral sex. In another scene, a young girl is filmed while having sex in a pool.

Euphoria on HBO is not meant for an audience of young children and teenage viewers. Parents should take note before allowing older teens to watch the series and if it is allowed, consider having conversations with them about the heavy themes that may play out.

Euphoria airs Sundays at 10/9c on HBO.

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