The Problem with Euphoria


Emma Willsmore


The HBO Max original series Euphoria returns with a new season after production was put on hold due to COVID-19. With its return, fans worldwide pay close attention to the show’s details, such as the vibrant colored lights and hand-selected soundtrack. But what viewers might miss is the real meaning behind the show’s portrayal of sex, drugs, alcohol, and pornography.

Euphoria is a drama that follows the life of a troubled teen: 17-year-old Rue Bennett (played by Zendya) who is a drug addict that spent time in rehab with no plans to stay clean. The show’s depiction of drugs can be difficult to watch, as it portrays the true hardships of addiction as well as abusive relationships, gang violence, and mental health. But the grip that these well-loved characters have on the audience could influence impressionable teens to partake in dangerous behaviors potentially glorified by the show.

“My issue with Euphoria is the fact that it sort of glorifies the party and drugs lifestyle and because of the popular cast members, and the bright colors, that sort of thing, it’s hard to know that there are kids watching this and thinking that doing drugs is fun or cool,” said BHS parent Rebecca Prieur.

The show’s main character, Rue Bennett, explains in great detail that she abuses substances to cope with her mental illness and the loss of her father, but what is that telling teenagers who are struggling in their own lives?

“I think that teenagers who are struggling mentally or are unstable and looking for ways to manage would be very easily influenced by seeing things portrayed on ‘Euphoria’,” said BHS teacher Danielle Grills. “But I do also believe most teens are smarter than that and understand right from wrong.” 

Producers aren’t shy to show things that most wouldn’t,  from full-frontal nudity, realistic overdoses, and everything in between. For teens who are struggling or those who have faced the same issues that the show delineates, it can be extremely triggering to watch.

“Watching [Euphoria] can be really hard for me to watch because it reminds me of myself and when I was really struggling with substance abuse,” said one BHS student who wishes to remain unnamed. “I’ve come a long way but Euphoria is extremely realistic and more people definitely need to understand that.”  

Euphoria takes place in southern California which is very different from Brighton High School’s usual setting. When teenagers watch this show, they can’t always relate to the extreme scenarios such as the extreme makeup and flamboyant outfits, but if teens don’t relate to the extreme manners of the show will they fully understand the consequences of participating in the illegal and dangerous activities.

“I don’t relate to most of the show and I know that most of the people that watch it probably won’t either and I think that it [Euphoria] can be a really bad influence. I think most teenagers need to fully relate to a situation to understand the negative long and short-term effects,” said BHS student Lucas Shelton.

Social media is well known for influencing people to look, act, dress and even talk in certain ways. What happens when euphoria is plastered all over social media on top of being one of the current most-streamed shows? With clips of the show and audio going viral on TikTok, to advertisements every couple of posts.

“I feel like all I see and hear lately is all about Euphoria. I’ve never even watched the show but I know I could tell you the basic premise of the whole show based on what I’ve seen on social media,” said BHS student Tessa Hilobuk. “I know that it influences people in unexpected ways, Euphoria-themed parties, and people wearing outfits similar to what the characters wear and frankly I’m surprised no one is really talking about the negative effects of normalizing and glorifying drug abuse and all that on a tv show.”

Although Euphoria has its negative impacts, it truly does highlight the real effects that addiction has not only on yourself but on your family and friends.