LOS ANGELES — If your TikTok feed has been flooded with videos poking fun at the R-rated social lives of the high schoolers on “Euphoria,” you’re not alone. Maude Apatow, who stars on the show as theater kid Lexi, says she’s always scrolling by them too.
“It’s literally insane going on TikTok,” the 24-year-old actress tells USA TODAY on the red carpet for a “Euphoria” FYC event Wednesday night. “I’m on TikTok all the time. It’s crazy to see the reenactments and the ‘Euphoria High’ ones,” where people change into risqué outfits similar to the show’s high school students, “are funny, too,” she says.
“I get sent those literally all day long,” Apatow says. One of her favorite parodies is “Succession” star Brian Cox’s recreation on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” of a Season 2 scene where Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) declares she’s “never, ever been happier.”
Apatow was one of several “Euphoria” cast members in attendance at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures for a red carpet and panel discussion on the wildly popular HBO drama series. During the panel, Sweeney confessed she can’t escape the memes either.
“I see them everywhere. It’s insane,” the 24-year-old actress said, to laughter from fans.
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But the NSFW storylines on “Euphoria” haven’t just inspired memes. They’ve also stirred controversy, with some viewers expressing concern over scenes depicting teenagers, played by adult actors, in situations involving sex, nudity and drug use.
As Season 2 debuted in January, the Parents Television and Media Council called on HBO to end “Euphoria” over its sexual content, and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program released a statement saying the show “chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world.”
“Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson, 37, who based the show on his own past struggles with addiction, addressed these concerns in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter around the time of the show’s 2019 premiere. “There are going to be parents who are going to be totally … freaked out,” he told the outlet.
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Apatow, whose parents are comedians Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, encourages wary viewers to keep in mind that “Euphoria” is TV and not real life — though it does touch on real issues facing teenagers.
“I can definitely imagine as a parent it would be tough to see some of that,” she says. “But I always try and say, it is very heightened and in extremely heightened circumstances. I think it’s very grounded in reality, but a lot of it is TV, so I wouldn’t be too worried.”
Chloe Cherry, 24, who had a breakout role on Season 2 as Faye, says on the red carpet that “Euphoria” is “a warning tale told by Sam Levinson, due to his own experiences.”
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“I think he’s just trying to warn young people of what can happen when you do these things,” she adds.
One particularly heavy storyline centers on teenager Rue (Zendaya) as she undergoes a harrowing battle with opioid addiction.
Speaking as part of the panel, Zendaya, 25, said “one of the greatest honors” of playing Rue is how fans of the show have opened up to her about their own stories of addiction.
“It’s so beautiful to me every single time, and I think I take on those stories with me, and they become part of Rue each time I play her. I get very emotional, because I care about her a lot, because she represents a lot of people that need a lot of love,” she said, her voice quivering. “I just want people to be able to heal through her.”
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