I’ve often had the discussion with my friends and peers – what if we were teenagers today? What if, on top of all the normal teenage angst, you have to deal with all the social media pressure, its loneliness and the ease of access it brings to stuff we were quite sheltered from. This is more or less the premise of HBO’s latest hit, Euphoria.
The Nature Of The Teen Drama
Every generation has its provocative, boundary-pushing piece of popular culture that tries to paint a picture of ‘how young people live now’. Euphoria is an exploration of the deep-seated disconnection of Gen Z. These works are designed to be micro horror scenarios set to entice moral panic at the revelation of how we are unable to save these kids from themselves.
So, how does Euphoria describe these Gen Z’s? They are the post 9/11 children dealing with obscene DMs from strangers, active-shooter training at school and always consuming content – a lot of which is ubiquitous, hard-core porn. It seems like the days of the jocks and cheerleaders are gone, making way for the sexually adventurous, the morally ambiguous and the weird and bizarre – think Billie Eilish.
The series is shot beautifully, with many of close-ups, expressions, and a dream-like hue. It seems as if the camera feels along with the characters – the light streaming in while bustling through the mania, and reduced to dark corners and moody lighting in the depression.
The narrator and main character, Rue, is portrayed by The Disney Channel’s Zendaya who does an amazing job of jumping from being a cynical, hardened addict to being a vulnerable teenager. A lot of the shots are just of her expression and she masterfully shows both the elation she feels as well as the intense pain.
The series has a weird way of one side driving Rue’s narrative of trying to navigate post-rehab life, while the other side interludes with scenes clearly meant to outrage and shock. Scenes bordering on rape, and excessive nudity can sometimes feel more obscene and exploitative, rather than truly pushing the narrative forward. All-in-all, this is going to be a series that people will be talking about for quite some time.
*I have to warn you if you suffer from a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, this series might be a trigger for you.
Official HBO Synopsis
Following a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media, the series will be executive produced by Drake, along with manager Future the Prince. The ensemble cast includes: actor and singer Zendaya, Maude Apatow (Girls), Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Hunter Schafer, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney (Sharp Objects).