I, along with many of you I’m sure, have been anxiously awaiting the release of Euphoria season two for over two years, and it is finally here. Something about this show has captured the hearts of millions and acquired a cult following unlike any other teen show in quite some time. Sam Levinson’s creation has received rave reviews and praise for its raw content and beautiful performances, but has also received criticism for being overly graphic. 

There is no denying that Euphoria is filled with mature themes and triggering scenes. It is often uncomfortable, unpleasant, and authentic to a chilling degree. There is also an element of fantasy to the series found in the costumes, the makeup, the cinematography, and the scenes that take place in the character’s imagination. It is as if young people who are experiencing the ebbs and flows of teenagedom somehow have the confidence we were never allowed to express themselves. There is certainly no such thing as dressing for the occasion in the world of Euphoria. The characters wear what they want when they want. Heals and a mini bag to high school; in the Euphoria world, this is normalized. No one takes Maddy less seriously or treats her with less respect because she has loud and personable fashion; it is normalized to the point of not having to be addressed at all. What is more, Euphoria is beautifully and creatively shot and thus, fascinating to watch. Take the work of art that is the carnival episode from season one.

Some argue that the experiences the Euphoria characters go through are very different from their own high school experiences. The violence, the drugs, and the complicated and intertwined sex lives seem very far away and unbelievable to some. Still, they are the genuine expression of individual experiences, which must be respected. Each episode offers a view into the minds and upbringing of the main characters, the backstories that make them who they are. Rue’s childhood riddled with anxiety attacks and her father’s death explains, at least in part, the reason she first turned to substances. I know many of us were conflicted after we saw the teenage years of Cal Jacobs, the series villain in this past week’s episode. Many viewers were mad that the Euphoria creators forced us to emphasize with a young Cal considering the unforgivable and frankly evil things he has done as an adult. Nevertheless, that is the thing about Euphoria; it forces us to feel things we do not want to feel and understand where evil, good, pain, and longing all come from. 

What is more, while some of the storylines are not necessarily relatable for everyone, the feelings that drive the characters are ones we can all relate to. Cassie has a longing for love and validation, and Rue must fight between the love she has for the people in her life and addiction, while Maddy fights the hold of a toxic and abusive relationship. No matter what our teenage experience has been, everyone can relate to not knowing who they are or what is necessarily good for them. 

Another aspect that makes the series so compelling is that many of the storylines are based on the show’s creator, Sam Levinson’s experiences as a young adult. This is an authentic distinction between Euphoria and many other teen series. Rather than a bunch of 40-year-old’s trying to guess what will be ‘relatable’ to Gen Z, Levinson draws from a truth that is authentic and engaging while not necessarily universal. As a result, Euphoria is not littered with the teen stereotypes that we have all grown so sick of. Instead, the storyline is more in touch with reality and does not try to be anything it is not. 

There is no denying that Euphoria is heavy. It is certainly not a show meant for children or those in their early teens. Yet, the realities shown in the show are unfortunately faced by many young people today. I think in this respect, Euphoria truly gets it right. We live in the age of social media and supposed ‘sexual freedom,’ but unfortunately, along with this comes cyber-bullying, harmful language, toxic masculinity, and all sorts of physical and mental abuse. I argue that rather than encouraging these worrying behaviours, Euphoria plays out their grim reality. The characters have to live with their choices and the people they are; this aspect of the show is not fantasized. 

I look forward to Sundays at nine every week. Each episode exemplifies many of the painful ebbs and flows I and many of the people I love have lived through, somehow making me feel less alone, pushing my empathy and expanding my perspective.  

Header Image source: Euphoria Instagram


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