The Glamorization of Euphoria

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The hit HBO show, Euphoria’s second season aired on January 9, after a three-year hiatus due to COVID. The show’s return brings back the age-old debate of just how glamourized it is regarding its depictions of drugs, sex, and violence. 

Most recently, D.A.R.E, The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program has criticized the show for misguidedly glorifying high school student drug use, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behavior.  

*Further stating that recognizing its negative political consequences on school children who are faced with risks and mental health challenges, the show is established as “groundbreaking”. 

However, this take is not as welcomed in the minds of teenage viewers of the show. Fan of the show and Battlefield junior, Kennedy Bumbrey says, “I think Euphoria does the opposite. Younger audiences tend to focus on the cool style and makeup that come from the whole Euphoria ‘aesthetic’ when the main point is to show young people that it looks fun on the outside but doing drugs/engaging in hookup culture really ruins people’s lives”. This tends to blur the lines between representation and triggering content and contributes to how it can be taken as unrealistic. 

* Compared to other teen shows of a similar caliber, like Gossip Girl or Skins, the intense tackle on sensitive matters is no doubt enticing and influential on younger views going through adolescence. 

The other noted issue of the show arises from its over- sexualization of its female characters, namely Cassie Howard. Bumbrey says, “I understand Sydney Sweeney is playing a character that is supposed to dress scandalous, but I feel like a lot of her nude scenes are unnecessary compared to the other girls”. A problem privy throughout Hollywood is how women are glorified as nothing more than sexually appealing whilst possessing unrealistic beauty standards, damaging to the mindset of its young viewers. 

Euphoria does not shy away from graphically displaying its characters’ sex lives, which is unnerving taking those the show’s characters are supposed to be teenagers.  

With the character Kat Hernandez, in season one, her storyline takes her down the path of sex work. The show deems it as her way of reclaiming her body and becoming confident in herself, but it can easily be misinterpreted as promoting selling one’s body online, which in one instance is a form of her taking back what unrealistic societal expectation has stolen from but is sex work which is an industry created by men to abuse their power over women.  

The show has high praise for its aesthetically pleasing sequences which in some way discolors away from addressing consequences to mature topics. Pop culture writer, Charlotte Wilkinson writes, When writing about the lives of mostly high school girls, it’s hard to see how Levinson [Showrunner]  could give an accurate portrayal when he has neither experienced womanhood nor the whirlwind that is high school as a member of Generation Z”. While in some cases it never inherently addresses every issue like overdosing or abusive teenage relationships, the ongoing negative results are implied and still being explored, but one must understand the intended audience is young adults and older, most of whom can put two and two together. 

The high school experience is no longer cut and dry, and Euphoria is trying to depict it in a way that can become normalized, so it can be addressed. The glamorization comes into play as it is a TV show so it may not be an exact representation of most people’s experiences.