Content Warning: Addiction, Substance Use
Gen Z’s Favorite Generation Z Show ‘Euphoria’ comes from announcement is planning its second season. Based on the creator Sam Levinson’s ‘Own experience of anxiety, drug addiction and depression,’ the racy HBO high school drama follows a group of college students grappling with their own post-puberty hurdles, pressures from athletic and academic celebrity to deception on dating apps. It’s called “Euphoria”, but “a feeling of intense happiness and excitement“is not what you feel when you start the first episode, watching footage of the World Trade Center attacks.
âEuphoriaâ begins the same way Gen Z was launched into the world: amid the violent ruins of post 9/11 America. The show’s relentlessly heavy tone, which portrayed topics such as drug use, violence and vengeful child pornography, made it just as love and hated for what fans see as accuracy and what critics see as glorification of its subject matter. The backlash can perhaps be interpreted as an example of what happens when art mimics life a little too vividly, and here Gen Z’s own trauma is thrown back to us in a moody technicolor.
“Euphoria” stars Rue Bennett, a 17 year old teenage girl struggling with an addiction, who, ironically, is played by Zendaya (“Dune”), the favorite Disney star. The students are revealed to us through Rue’s unreliable storytelling, and we experience the ups and downs of high school as Rue does.
As a result, while the harsh realities of drug use and addiction are clear (in the second episode of the first season, Rue is shown lying in a pile of her own vomit after an overdose), the altered state of Rue gives the trippy scenes in âEuphoria,â the most beautiful visuals, music and cinematography of the entire show. Yet somehow these scenes strike a balance between being strongly stylized and viscerally realistic. after all, the way “Euphoria” deals with her heaviest subjects is uncomfortable and shocking.
âEuphoriaâ and her unabashedly daring portrayal of mature themes fueled many critics; some conservative organizations have even called for the show to be taken off the air because of what they see as the glorification of violence, pills and sex. The Parents Television and Media Council, an American Christian censorship group, Express fear that âHBO, with its new high school-centric show ‘Euphoria’, appears to be intentionally openly marketing extremely graphic adult content – sex, violence, profanity, and drug use – to teens and tweens.â The platform The Movie Guide media critic has called on its readers to sign a petition demanding that HBO remove “Euphoria” from its lineup, which it describes as “despicable beyond belief.”
Maybe it’s because of all of this that “Euphoria” has already become a cult classic – Gen Z’s “Pulp Fiction”. In the years since the show’s release, Gen Z has cultivated a so-called “Aesthetic euphoria“, using iconic colors and styles from the series so thoroughly and so frequently that it’s hard to imagine our generation before” Euphoria “aired in 2019. Teens across the country began to wear shimmering tears . reconcile and get dressed as Cassie and Maddie characters for Halloween. Players’ Instagram accounts have won millions of followers, and a lot of fashion brands for Generation Z have adopted the bold style of the series universe.
The way Gen Z embraced the âEuphoriaâ aesthetic makes the series feel like the mirror Gen Z didn’t know they needed. The generation’s buy-in to the show is more about teens expressing their identity through technology and self-discovery and feeling understood than wanting to glorify substance use and sexual assault.
Levinson complaints that, for “Euphoria”, it “was just trying to capture that kind of heightened emotion when you’re young and how relationships feel”. This move, he says, was made to help older generations understand Gen Z, and for Gen Z members to realize that they are not alone as generation gap continues to expand and technology is impacting more and more how we live our lives.
Like the characters Rue, Jules, Cassie, Maddie and Nate, I was born in post 9/11 America. I, too, have seen lockdown drills, consumed media that I probably shouldn’t have had at my age. Although âEuphoriaâ is more serious than my experience, for me and for many of my friends, the series represents many of the issues we face and faithfully reflects the fears and anxieties of our generation. Unlike the myriad of other Gen Z high school shows I’ve watched recently, seeing these issues, though in the show’s cartoonish and melodramatic portrayals, felt cathartic and validated my own struggles against it. anxiety and technology throughout high school.
âEuphoriaâ is Generation Z, in all of its sparkling, confusing and pixelated glory.
Daily Arts writer Jaden Katz can be contacted at [email protected]