Digital Culture

Euphoria: Messy and Beautiful or a Parent’s Worst Nightmare?

Image Credit: MicheleLF

By Abi Ramsay

Euphoria content has found its way into all forms of social media. Whether you’re scrolling through your “For You” page on TikTok or reading recent tweets, snapshots of the show will have eased their way into the content you’re consuming and perhaps even piqued your interest. After all, the snippets of dialogue that are going viral aren’t your usual run-of-the-mill TV show discourse (I’m looking at you, Eric Dane, for that impeccably delivered sequence from s2, ep4). 

So why is it that Euphoria is the new cult addiction? And, what does it say about our generation? Above all else, it isn’t exactly a TV series filled with ‘good choices’. It says something about the general pool of characters if the one you like most is a drug dealer who nearly beat someone to death, and his 13-year-old adopted brother, who actually did. 

As a general premise, Euphoria has been described in reviews as a “parent’s worst nightmare”, as it constantly deals with themes of an adult nature. Set in a secondary school, the show follows a group of friends all with their own problems – abusive relationships, severe drug addiction, sex scandals, cheating and daddy issues.

Described like that, the show seems bleak to say the least. The students are constantly falling down paths of misconduct, and the parents are no saving grace. Naive at best, even the figures of authority are shown to be navigating their own issues – whether that be addiction, or sexuality. 

It seems creator Sam Levinson is aware of the tangled web the show is threading and leans into the messy storyline. He chooses for the story to be told from the perspective of Rue (Zendaya), a character who is recently released from rehab when the show begins before she falls down a spiral of addiction once again. By voicing the story through Rue’s unreliable narration, Levinson subjects the viewer to an intangible narrative from the off, contrasted only by the artistic choices of cinematography, costume and music. 

Instead of writing a teen drama, Levinson writes a drama centred around teens, with Euphoria becoming a character analysis for various complex archetypes. Perhaps that’s why the show has such a cult addiction – even though the sheer amount of action taking place seems overwhelming, the individual arcs all have a degree of relatability for a modern teen. From the influence of porn on a person’s sex drive, to slowly watching a relationship turn toxic, or even seeing friends become addicted to drugs or alcohol, Euphoria manages to encapsulate many of the nodes that can make up a person’s young adult experience. 
With the announcement of the show’s renewal, it will be exciting to see what Levinson does next. As the characters become more complex, and the divide between good/bad becomes unrecognisable, I feel we are just on the tip of the iceberg with Euphoria and the social commentary that takes place – and, if the sounds continue to go viral on TikTok, they must be doing something right.