HBO is known for its treasure trove of original series going back to “The Wire” and “The Sopranos.” However, a series in the modern era has taken popular culture by storm. “Euphoria” is not a new show either. It’s also a show that should be watched warily.
The series, created and written by Sam Levinson, is a teen drama featuring an ensemble cast, but namely that of “Spider-Man” star Zendaya. The characters in the series tackle with issues of abuse, drug use, sexual orientation, gender identity, crime, and violence in extremely mature ways. The first season premiered in 2019 and the second season (which is getting a lot of the recent buzz) premiered in 2021.
Firstly, the genre of “teen drama” is not new for “Euphoria.” Teen dramas have been popular, particularly since the year 2000. “Glee,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” and “Skins” are all examples of teen dramas, and “Euphoria” should be grouped together with the last one on the list. Teen dramas can be generally divided into two categories based on their general maturity level. “Glee” is certainly in the “safe for work” category due to its emphasis on an idealized version of high school life, its avoidance of extreme swear words, or sexual themes. “Euphoria” does not practice this same avoidance. It goes all in on these themes. Sex, drugs, and more modern genres than rock and roll are central factors in “Euphoria.”
“Euphoria” premiered in 2019, so why has it received such a resurgence in 2021? There are many contributing factors that can provide a solid answer to this question. In the mid-pandemic life, we are all looking for some sort of escapism. Seeing this fantasized version of high school reality allows us to imagine a world where we’re doing drugs in the bathroom with virtually no consequences; a world where we’re exploring our gender and sexuality without a care in the world. The show’s cinematography is just as compelling as the story’s themes. However, there is a caveat to this show: the show’s intended audience is supposed to be adults, but there are many minors who are watching “Euphoria.”
“Euphoria” needs to be emphasized as a complete fabrication of high school life. Yes, there are minors doing illicit drugs. Yes, they are having sex, but the flip side of this discussion is that minors do not have fully developed thought processes yet. As a group (not as individuals), they do not possess the proper critical thought to be able to discern the relative appropriateness of events they might see characters who are in high school doing and saying. Parents should exercise extreme discretion with their children who are in high school. The mature themes presented in the show are good lessons for life, but not so much that minors should be actively trying to mimic the events they see on the screen.
“Euphoria” is this year’s big show thus far and like all media, it has its time and place. Viewer discretion is and should be advised.