As society has evolved and diversified over the last decade, the entertainment industry has also made great strides with the content it presents to teens in television shows.
This movement toward less censorship is evident in the new teen drama “Euphoria,” which is meant to provide a raw and uncensored depiction of the high school experience, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I just find [“Euphoria”] more relatable to current high school experiences, especially regarding gender and sexuality,” Tali Tufeld ’20 said. “Especially with social media, I feel like no other show integrates [gender and sexuality] as closely as ‘Euphoria’ does to the reality of it in [teen] lives. I feel like it is more accurate and up to date with current times than other shows. Every character is super unique and has their own story. It is truly an ensemble piece and it is beautiful.”
Euphoria’s origin, plot and cast
“Euphoria,” based on an Israeli mini television series with the same name, concluded its first season in August. Euphoria dives deep into 17-year-old narrator Rue’s (Zendaya) struggle with drugs, relationships and depression while also following the lives of several other students at her high school.
The show, created by Sam Levinson, depicts teenagers’ experiences with sex, drugs, nudity, social media, abuse and rape.
“Euphoria” cast popular actors such as Sydney Sweeney (Cassie), Eric Dane (Cal Jacobs) and Jacob Elordi (Nate Jacobs), but has also included lesser-known actors like Hunter Schaefer (Jules), Barbie Ferreira (Kat) and Alexa Demie (Maddy).
Students’ and Parents’ Opinions about the show
Tufeld praised the show for exploring the different facets of growing up, she said.
“I think [‘Euphoria’] is realistic in its exploration of gender, struggles of drugs and alcohol, the struggle of body image, popularity and family issues,” Tufeld said. “An example of this is Nate’s exploration with his gender and sexuality.”
Although the first season of “Euphoria” has received successful ratings and has been renewed for a second season, many believe that the show is too graphic and overdramatic.
The New York Times reported that teens of today’s generation drink less, try fewer drugs and commit fewer crimes than the teens of past generations, resulting in a disconnect between reality and the portrayal of high school in “Euphoria.”
Parents Television Council President Tim Winter said that the goal of “Euphoria,” is to sell explicit and real content to the younger generation, according to Fox News.
Although she loves Zendaya, Gisele Stigi ’22 said that the show was too graphic for her to watch.
“I heard that the show was really intense and deals with a lot of sensitive issues [that] I don’t really like to watch,” Stigi said. “I prefer upbeat shows.”
Ava Benavente ’20 said that she applauds the show for ts ability to depict the struggles that high-schoolers may be experiencing today.
“While I don’t believe all of those issues would be happening at the same time in the same high school, I think the show depicts real issues [that] teens are facing and really hits the specific high school [experiences] with things like social media, drinking and JUULing,” Benavente said.
Benavente also said that the show can connect to all high schools, including ours.
“I think the issues are quite relatable and the language the characters use is very relatable,” Benavente said. “However, obviously the values and set up of their schools and Harvard-Westlake are quite different.”
Like Benavente, Savannah Walske ’22 said she thinks it is important for people to understand the struggles current teens endure.
“In many of the shows concerning teenage life and well-being, what we see is augmented reality, and often one in which serious problems in the educational system are romanticized like in ‘13 Reasons Why’ and ‘Riverdale,’” Walske said. “What I think makes ‘Euphoria’ stand out is that the way they portray it is real—they show the hardships for what they are and things as small as makeup have their own significance in the show. This show is just very important to me as it’s one of the first teenage shows which is accurate and hopefully will inspire more shows of this light to come about.”
Walske also said that while she does not think the show’s depiction is fully true to life, overall the show succeeds at portraying a realistic high school experience.
“Not all high schools have as much of drug abuse [as ‘Euphoria’], but I think [‘Euphoria’] does a good job at showing all the problems in high schools, whether a high school only has one of them [or all of them],” Walske said. “‘Euphoria’ is not an attempt to romanticize the high school experience, but instead to spread awareness about teenage society these days.”