Is the visually stunning, Zendaya-led show an accurate portrayal of our generation? Talking all things euphoria, from the dangers of the glamourized ‘euphoria aesthetic’, to our cassie-bathroom and euphoria high inside jokes, to their crisis text hotline.
We’re drawn to euphoria like moths to a light. Why’s that?
A rift between a teen addict and her supportive (or, trying to be) sister and mom. Angel wings and walking-on-wall-scenes and detective-style sequences and gems around the eyelids. Vulgar language and heavy childhood backstories. Remorseless sexual entanglements with a best friend’s ex in a party bathroom. Innovative, holographic makeup looks crafted by @donni.davy that spiraled into a real-life phenomenon. A season premiere shot entirely on film.
Season Two, Episode One of euphoria racked up over 2.4 million views, a rooftop-shattering record for HBO Max. Members of our generation flocked to the streaming platform. Inevitably, we gravitated towards the appeal of Rue, Jules, Maddy, Kat, and co., continuing their storylines and character development on a path that is anything but steady.
As a Gen Z-er myself, I can tell from endless quote tweets and TikTok recreations that Euphoria is quickly becoming our favorite show. Is there a specific reason as to why? A collective explanation for it’s supernova-esque explosion in popularity? Is it the sheer stardom of Zendaya, the shock factor of the series’ explicit nature, the bold outfits and bad b*tch energy that we all wish to channel?
If it were up to my interpretation, I would think Euphoria resonates because it dives into the rough, murky waters of topics that other teen shows will merely dip their toes into. And yes, it’s overly dramatized (and at times, glamourized) but a lot of concepts are familiar for young people. While not everyone can relate to the plots around revenge porn, drug abuse, or mental health, we might know someone that does, and watching euphoria can help viewers empathize with either their experiences, or cope with our own.
The dialogue is parallel to the way teens talk now — peppered with ‘likes’ and ‘ums’, a lack of eloquence when we’re tired or distracted, curse words left-and-right, and long-winded rants stemming from built up anger.
With the range of heavy topics discussed, is it dangerous that the ‘euphoria aesthetic’ is constantly celebrated, and at times, desired?
“I think any time you put anything on screen, you run the risk of glamorizing it just by the nature of it being on screen. I don’t want [to be triggering], but we also have to be authentic about it.”Euphoria showrunner Sam Levinson tells Variety.
Drawing clouds on your eyelids with white eyeliner is one thing, doing drugs is quite the other. It’s no secret that Generation Z likes to idealize things, and the same can apply to euphoria. The show’s cinematography and stylistic choices are, without a doubt, stunning, so it can be hard not to want to attend the crew’s New Year’s Parties, cheer on Kat for her confidence, or even yearn for the budding romance of Rue and Jules. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. But many toe the line, if not cross it entirely. There’s a lot in euphoria that shouldn’t be desired or romanticized—such as the abusive relationship between Maddy and Nate, the non-consensual spreading of nudes, or acts of self-harm. And although it’s important for the showrunners to shed light on these issues, whether it be to drive the plot of the story or spread awareness, it’s easy to be swept away by the stellar soundtrack and the neon purple lights, with the show’s fantasy and our world’s reality merging into one gigantic blur.
When watching euphoria’s second season, keep this in mind. It can be beneficial to distinguish the aspects of euphoria that are okay to be celebrated and idealized (makeup, fashion, characterization), and the ones that are real human flaws or societal issues.
euphoria’s resource hub and hotline
“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences. This season, maybe even more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable. Take care of yourself and know that either way you are still loved and I can still feel your support. All my love, Daya.”via @zendaya on Instagram
This is probably the thing that euphoria does that I applaud them most for—the recognition of its triggering storylines and visuals by its showrunners and starring cast members. euphoriaresources.com makes resources and redirections to organizations accessible (Trans Lifeline, Partnership to End Addiction, Planned Parenthood). It also features a Crisis Text Line (text EUPHORIA to 741741), where a live, trained crisis counselor will respond to the message and help the viewer cope with triggering moments.
It would be incredible to see if euphoria can impact other networks and shows in this way, hopefully setting a standard to acknowledge when shows can be triggering for folks, and make sites with the resources needed to get help as well.
the tv-show-experience doesn’t end when the credits roll: gen z experiences a show together, through the power of online connectivity.
I’ll finish watching a phenomenal episode of euphoria, and immediately run to Twitter where I see users meme-ifying the video of Cassie scared of Maddy in the bathroom, or reactions to the romantic spark between Fez and Lexi. I’ll laugh at the jokes, cry at the edits, interact with their live tweets and share my own predictions or opinions. Euphoria is one of many examples of how our generation makes a show’s premiere a collective experience, with Spiderman: No Way Home or YOU also reflecting the same behavior. It’s a sign of community, a sign of how vulnerable and comfortable we all are on the Internet.
Fandom culture and virality all contribute to this, and it’s refreshing to see that we can spark so much discussion with strangers halfway across the world.
euphoria’s themes of teen angst, sexuality, peer pressure, and what young people sacrifice for a taste of freedom are reminiscent of the emotions we go through on a daily basis. Even if the storylines are not carbon copy replicas of our own personal incidents, the feelings evoked from the show strike a resonant chord within us, and so we’ll wait for the following Sunday to once again, feel euphoria.
Written by: Sophia Delrosario