Euphoria tackles the darkest aspects of youth culture

Áine O'Boyle

Much like “Skins” did for millennials, “Euphoria” is highlighting the extreme facets of youth culture that are deeply ingrained within the lives of teenagers today.

Similarly to the majority of tv shows we watch about teenagers, the cast of “Euphoria” is primarily made up of grown adults who are playing a group of 16-18 year olds.

Rue, the protagonist of the show is played by Zendaya, former Disney star. The show essentially unfolds under her narration with the actress seamlessly falling into the role of a character struggling with a drug addiction.

In an honest and raw portrayal of addiction we watch Rue make destructive decisions that negatively impact both her own life and the lives of her family and friends. We see her struggle with crippling anxiety that holds her back in her school life and makes her feel as though she isn’t worthy of being loved.

The show has received severe backlash among many adults and parents of whom have hailed it as being completely obscene and inappropriate, largely due to a number of graphic sex scenes and a proclivity towards nudity.

The president of the Parents Television Council condemned the show as being far too graphic for its target audience. With this comes a sense of irony that we would feel uncomfortable allowing 16-year-olds to watch a show based on the lives of other 16-year-olds. But this simply highlights the stark fact that the majority of those within this age demographic will not be shocked by the content of “Euphoria” as they all witness the various topics that the show tackles to lesser extremes in their daily lives.

Episode one features a “locker room” style situation where a group of young teenagers pass around a sex tape involving one of the characters, Cassie. We see the ease with which the majority of the young men can watch this tape and it offers us an insight into the impact that pornography has on young men in society.

We see the impacts of sub-standard sexual education in school systems within the storylines of “Euphoria”. We watch a female character being violently choked during sex, because the boy “thought she liked that”.

This is a large testament to the role of pornography in society, and highlights the fact that young men can often place the same expectations on young women that they engage in sexual activity with as that of the content they may watch in porn.

Euphoria was created to highlight the shocking extremes of youth culture today. The character of Kat, played by body-positive model Barbie Ferreira, feels as though she has become sexually empowered because of the attention she receives from men on the internet.

Her character arch seems to become disillusioned as she acts as though she is this sexually empowered adult, when in reality she is just a 16-year-old girl who is being exploited by older men both on the internet and in real life.

“Euphoria” has also proved to be largely progressive in a number of ways. It tackles the issue of representation within the transgender community with the character of Jules, played by Hunter Schafer.

The fact that Jules is a transgender woman is not pandered to within the scripting, only being mentioned in passing in episode three.

We instead watch Jules develop as a character, becoming aware of her toxic tendencies and witnessing a beautiful, caring friendship blossom with Rue.

Aside from tackling topical issues within youth culture today, “Euphoria” also serves up some serious makeup inspiration, adopting editorial makeup looks into the regular lives of teenagers to encourage self-expression and individualism.

Áine O’Boyle 

Image Credit: Eddy Chen HBO