PTC Calls Out HBO for Promoting Illicit Drug Use in High School-Focused Euphoria

Written by PTC | Published January 28, 2022

LOS ANGELES (January 27, 2022) – The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) called on HBO’s Euphoria to stop promoting children’s illicit drug use and suggesting how to hide drug use from others.

In Euphoria’s third episode of season 2, the main high-school-aged character, Rue, instructs viewers on how to hide continued or a relapse in drug use from friends and family, for example, by using a “cover” drug. She suggests admitting to using pot to explain off-behavior, but concealing use of heroin, and then gaslighting the person questioning you about it.

The following is an excerpt of this scene:
Rue, reading the words on the screen: "How to get away with being a drug addict. Step 1. Find a cover drug." Scene cuts to Rue sitting on a toilet. She can be heard urinating. Rue: "Cause no matter how hard you try to hide it, if you're doing drugs, you're gonna get caught. It's inevitable, and when that does happen, you don't want to be on the defensive. Trust me. No one believes an addict when they're caught. So, first things first, you want to lay the groundwork." Rue watching TV with her sister and reacting to what’s on screen "Oh shit.” A moment later, “I think I'm gonna start smoking weed." Rue, back in the classroom. "Now, what you want to do is make them second guess their intuition. Make them feel like any valid concern is just their anxiety getting the best of them." "Step two: Gaslight."

“It is hard to imagine corporate conduct more grossly irresponsible than what HBO, and its parent corporation AT&T, is doing via Euphoria. The program, which centers on the activities of high school aged children, not only promotes illicit drug use by children, but it then offers a playbook on how to conceal that drug use. HBO/AT&T must realize the detrimental impact this show is having on the children and teens who make up the natural audience for a program about high school aged characters,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

To date, Euphoria season 2 has: Shown high school aged characters and adults in explicit sex scenes, including multiple on-screen depictions of male genitalia and female breasts; Mainstreamed underage drinking and illicit drug use; Uses graphic violence; Constantly barrages viewers with explicit language (329 “f-words” in three episodes). (Content examples and additional data can be viewed here.)

The PTC is urging members of the public to sign its petition calling on AT&T/HBO to stop airing child-themed pornography, in light of Euphoria’s season 2 second episode that fixated on the naked body of a high-school-aged female character as she engaged in various sex acts with another character.

“HBO continues to exploit teen characters for its own profit, and it is time to hold HBO and its corporate parent, AT&T, publicly to account,” said Winter.

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