The new HBO series, “Euphoria,” is anything but ordinary. The series steps into the pool of provocative, self-identifying teenage drama. Filled with sex, dark humor, drugs and tender romance, “Euphoria” is a complicated drama that pushes traditional boundaries and aims to open perspective of what truly goes on in the minds of teenagers.
Along with many other series such as “13 Reasons Why,” HBO’s “Euphoria” raises the bar in advocating provocative behavior, violence, and illegal activities. Many celebrate and criticize the series for testing limits and exposing such graphic and raw behavior.
“The conservative watchdog group, the Parents Television Council, has preemptively scolded HBO for ‘grossly irresponsible programming,’” according to a recent article from The New York Times. However, the HBO series may be exactly what many viewers needed and wanted to see all the while.
The protagonist and omniscient narrator Rue is played by Disney Channel star Zendaya. This casting decision automatically ensured that the demographic of the show would skew an audience of Generation Z and millennials rather than the typical HBO viewer.
As the show follows Rue, a 17 year old drug addict fresh out of rehab as a result of an overdose with no desire to stay clean, viewers also discover the vividly relatable stories of those around her. The charcters surronding Rue are Jules, a transgender girl looking for her place in the world; Nate, an athlete projecting his anger towards others to conceal his deep sexual insecurities; Chris, a high school football star completely overwhelmed with the reality of college; Cassie, whose past sexual tendencaies continue to haunt her and Kat, an overly self-conscious teen experimenting with sexuality. The series tackles teenagehood in an exploitative manner through substance-enhanced social events, as it also realizes the demographic’s anxiety-ridden days.
“Euphoria’s” creator, writer, and director, Sam Levinson, bases the series on his own personal experiences through addiction, anxiety, and recovery, adapting the show from a 2013 Israeli series. Levinson expresses his views on social media, sexual uncertainty and anxiety, the horror chamber of life in contemporary suburban America and the essential uselessness of parents, according to Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic. Those ideas embedded into the drama have caused a plethora of controversy.
Still, SSU student Mia Firpo says, “Everyone should watch ‘Euphoria.’ The show addresses real issues that are rarely discussed. The filming of the show is also super intriguing and captivating; it portrays the detrimental side effects of drugs that come with addiction,” as she carries on to say, “the soundtrack of the series also makes the show even better.”
Levinson’s use of graphic sexual imagery is used intently, to communicate and portray the intense influence teenagers are exposed to through unwanted or unnecessary content 24/7, online. “Euphoria” has frightened parents with the freedom of an unrestricted era of the Internet. However, Levinson gives a clear, accurate representation of the impact of pop culture. For instance, the characters receive their sexual education and learn the concept of love online through pornographic websites and television shows, exaggerations and fantasies, reinforces the article, “The Dark Teen Show that Pushes the Edge of Provocation,” from The Atlantic.
Overall the beauty of freedom that HBO explores through language, nudity, substance abuse, and violence creates a vivid reality for most viewers. Although the series pushes many boundaries, it pushes the envelope into an unexpected form of art. In dealing with the many overbearing challenges shown throughout the series, young social lives are clearly impacted by the landscape of modern technology.
The honest and uncut topics are invaluable. Viewers who have personally experienced or dealt with issues discussed within “Euphoria” will recognize and relate to the character behaviors and the film’s imagery, which were exactly Levinson’s intentions. The American drama series has purpose and viewers will either accept and learn from the provocative drama or choose to fear it.