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Euphoria: Exposing The Truths of Modern Adolescence

No spoilers, I promise.


HBO's newest hit show Euphoria initially received a lot of backlash from large publications for being scandalous and obscene. The contents of the show were championed as a negative influence on impressionable teen audiences.

HBO's Euphoria (Source: HBO)

Despite the claims that the show seemed to be glorifying explicit content, the show began to blow up around mid-July. It amassed a large young audience along with an online following in the span of a couple weeks. It's twitter fanbase praised the show and claimed to have gravitated towards it because of how relatable it felt.

What sets Euphoria apart from all the other modern-day teen dramas is its accurate portrayal of teen culture in today's modern world. It is raw and it is real. There’s no comedic sugar-coated layer on this one. The show chooses to expose the harsh realities of adolescence that have been ignored or diminished by most light-hearted teen dramas in the past. The struggles that come with navigating mental illnesses, sex, addiction, identity, and social media are often overlooked or exaggerated by most adaptions, however, This show is honest and open about what is really going on with teens today.

Rue Bennett portrayed by Zendaya in the pilot episode. (Source: HBO)

The show’s writer, Sam Levinson, created Euphoria by molding his own experience with adolescence and his personal struggle with addiction to fit those experiencing it for the first time in the 21st century. As a result, we get the story of Rue Bennett, phenomenally portrayed by Zendaya, and Jules Vaugh played by Hunter Schafer. The audience gets to sit in as the two protagonist attempt to find themselves through each others experiences.

Rue Bennett and Jules Vaugh in Season 1, Episode 8: "And Salt the Earth Behind You." (Source: HBO)

Not only do we get to explore the lives of Rue and Jules, we also get a chance to venture through the lives of their peers. Each episode begins with an in-depth introduction of each of the character’s lives. The shows fast paced dynamic does the job of debriefing the audience of every aspect of each character's lives. Every trauma, past relationship, mental illness, and internal struggle is revealed to the audience within the first minutes of each episode as a guide to understanding their actions and identity. By providing that background, the show does a good job of establishing sympathy between the audience and the characters.

Young Maddie in Season 1, Episode 5: "Bonnie and Clyde." (Source: HBO)

Alexa Demie as Maddy in Season 1, Episode 5. (Source: HBO)

Along with their own internal struggles, the show reveals each character's struggle with the external world. The show's plot is charged with issues that have defined our modern era such as the increase of mental illnesses and anxieties in the youth, the current opioid crisis in America, and the questioning of social norms among the youth.

Fezco (Angus Cloud) and Rue Bennett (Zendaya) in Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot. (Source: HBO)

Each character is uniquely built with a combination of individual life experiences and social struggles. This combination clearly influences their actions and presentations throughout the season, down to the way each one dresses. The characters are given the ability to have their own individual identity and expression. This is what makes them so relatable

Rue in Season 1, Episode 8: "And Salt the Earth Behind You." (Source: HBO)

Coming face to face with these characters and seeing parts of yourself in them makes watching the show unexpectedly painful, but at the same time comforting. The show does a good job of reminding young audiences that they are not alone in their struggle with adolescence. Not many will admit it, but adolescence is one of the most confusing and difficult parts of life to navigate. This show acts as less of a counselor and more as a voice for teen who are silently struggling to find themselves, while also chasing for short term happiness in the form of euphoria.


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