Why ‘Euphoria’ doesn’t live up to the hype

Taleise Lawrence, Copy Editor

Incredibly popular on TikTok and with Gen Z, “Euphoria” is the story of Rue: her life, friends and troubles. Though the main narrator is Rue and the audience sees things through her perspective, she is not the only character focused on throughout the show. There are numerous other characters that are both friends and antagonists in Rue’s life. The first season came out in 2019 and the finale of season two just aired on Feb. 27 of this year.  

Though “Euphoria” is an incredibly popular show, I’m not a big fan of it. One of the major plot lines is Rue’s battle with addiction. She overdoses, gets clean and continues this cycle over and over through the show.  

“Euphoria” does a good job of showing how drugs are ruining Rue’s life. She has ruined relationships with her mother, sister, sponsor and friends. She is constantly miserable and angry. She looks unwell, and feels it too. It’s pretty clear to most people that Rue is ruining her life by doing drugs. 

This show is made for adults. “Euphoria” is rated TV-MA, which is comparable to a movie’s R. Despite being made for adults, many teens and tweens watch this show as it features mainly teenagers in it.  

Teenagers aren’t as mature as the adult audiences “Euphoria” is intended for, and their brains are not fully developed yet. The way drugs are portrayed in this show makes them seem cool. Almost all of the characters do some form of drugs at some point. The way the scenes are shot makes being under the influence of drugs seem like a fun time. The colors are pretty and their vision is dreamlike. While adults can see the way drugs are ruining these kids’ lives, it isn’t as obvious for younger audiences.  

Additionally, the drugs storyline is inconsistent in the show. Rue is the only one seen suffering the consequences of her actions. Elliot is doing the same amount of drugs as Rue, yet is completely fine. He gains new friends and a partner. Cassie and Maddie do drugs recreationally. Rue’s younger sister smokes weed along with many other characters.  

They don’t experience any serious consequences in their life from this, which is subliminally showing teens watching that maybe a little bit of drugs is okay, just don’t do too much. This is a dangerous message to share, especially considering Dane County’s opioid deaths have increased by 40 more deaths per year since 2018. 

Another issue I had with the show was the age of its actors. The majority of the characters are supposed to be juniors and seniors in high school, around 17 and 18 years old. The actors, however, range from 23 to 31 years old. The only 18 year old actor is playing a 14 year old child. I understand this is normal in the film industry. There are more rules when working with teens, like how many hours they can work and what they are allowed to shoot.  

But if you’re creating a show all about teenagers and their struggles, shouldn’t teenagers be in it? And if you can’t cast teens because of the graphic scenes shot throughout the show, then maybe the show should be based on college students instead.  

The characters are all so sexualized in “Euphoria”. There is at least one sex scene in almost all of the episodes. Very rarely is it between adults. There is no cutting away or juxtaposition to imply that the characters had sex; they show things on screen quite graphically.

There shouldn’t be so much sexualization of teen characters, even if the actors are adults. It’s weird to show “teenagers” having sex so much on television. It provided shock value that kept viewers drawn in, but not much else came of it.  

If this show is aimed at teenagers, why aren’t the intimate scenes more realistic, like in the show “Sex Education”? If it’s aimed at adults, why do they need to see kids having sex so much? Not only is there a ridiculous amount of graphic sex, there are no healthy relationships. There are the obviously toxic ones: Nate, Cassie and Maddie. Rue and Jules have their own different unhealthy dynamic.  

One grouping that doesn’t get negatively talked about is Fez and Lexi. Fans on TikTok and Twitter say they’re a cute “relationship goals” couple. But Fez is 19 years or older and out of high school. Lexi is only 17. This is not a healthy relationship; it is a predatory one. Just because he is nice to her and their relationship isn’t abusive like the others in “Euphoria”, this is by no means a good or healthy relationship. 

Kat Hernandez had one of my least favorite storylines by far. Her whole character arc is that she used to be fat and ugly, but now she’s fat and sexy. There are so many things that went wrong with this.  

First of all, Kat is barely overweight. Not only that, but she is conventionally attractive and carries her weight in areas deemed desirable by society’s current standards. To overcome the insecurities about her body after an explicit video of her is leaked, she turns to… making explicit content? She becomes a camgirl at 16, making tons of money and changing her personality.  

The worst part about this storyline is that it is portrayed as though it is supposed to be empowering. What about a child turning to sex work and being exploited for her insecurities is empowering?  

The one good thing about “Euphoria” is the cinematography. It truly is a beautiful show. The lighting and blurring effects create mesmerizing scenes when the characters are partying or doing drugs.  

My favorite shot was when Cassie was in the middle of a breakdown. The camera started very close to her face, showing the audience her tear stained face and ruined makeup. It slowly pans out to show her surrounded by roses hanging from the ceiling. She looks ethereal like an angel, but the muted colors and her sad expression clash so sharply. It makes a beautiful scene, and is one of the many great shots. 

“Euphoria” was just not a great show. Sure, it’s fun to watch with friends and the memes are funny, but it’s not worth a rewatch.