This summer, many people spent every week with only one thing on their minds: watching the next episode of Euphoria that Sunday.
Sex, drugs, mental illness, and life were all portrayed this summer on HBO by a beautiful, lovable, and talented cast.
Regardless of the massive platform it has through HBO, Euphoria did not shy away from themes that were hard to tackle. Even in the first episode, the show began to explore topics like drug addiction and the darker side of dating apps. Despite some bumps in the writing and the content, the show is undeniably good. The sentiments and stories expressed in the show are all easy to relate to. It’s a show that accurately depicts things like drugs, parties, sexuality, and social media, all of which are difficult to portray on screen, but are key components of the lives of modern day teens. Euphoria does push the envelope, be that a good or a bad thing.
However hard to watch the subject matter may be, everything represented mirrors real teenage life.
While Euphoria is captivating, it is important to remember that “realistic” programs praised for their portrayal of life’s hardships are still television shows. They’re made to be relatable, but also to provide entertainment. This means the show has an obligation to provide you with something you want to see, and something that you will continue watching. But what happens when the horror and drama that you’re enjoying from your couch isn’t really all that distant?
On one hand, it is refreshing to find an outlet where a lot of the unspoken parts of life are played out in believable and emotional ways on screen. Complex family relationships and the world of online pornography are things that no one really wants to talk about, so a TV show that raises the topic could potentially be a good thing.
Additionally, Euphoria’s diverse cast allows for many different stories to be portrayed from their unique perspectives. In that regard, the existence of the show can again be taken as a positive; creating windows into other worlds through entertainment is vital in dismantling the concept of “the Other” and creating bridges as opposed to walls.
If we consume shows like Euphoria without truly taking the time to think about the concepts and stories we are absorbing, we risk desensitizing ourselves to painful and complex aspects of life.
While Euphoria amasses more and more popularity, it also poses a threat to the very conversations that it should be celebrated for starting. If we consume shows like Euphoria without truly taking the time to think about the concepts and stories we are absorbing, we risk desensitizing ourselves to painful and complex aspects of life. It is a problem if we lose opportunities for igniting constructive conversations about things that need to be discussed, such as addiction and statutory rape, both parts of Euphoria’s plot line.
This concept of desensitization can be seen today within the parallel between the rising instances of gun violence and how violence as a whole is shown so often and so frankly in the media. Though it isn’t wrong to talk about or show these things, it is wrong to normalize things portrayed in the media as acceptable without thinking about their connection to the world around you.
Of course, this type of contemplation cannot be expected of everyone. While people in power attempt to mask the need for gun control by calling for video game content control, we need to ask: if someone were to emulate something they saw in Euphoria, or take violence outside of a video game, who is at fault, creator or consumer?
While media and those who create it still deserve regulation and the input of consumers, they don’t deserve to be penalized for the actions of people who misinterpret their message. When people commit acts of violence in the name of religion, the religion is not to blame.
Euphoria’s popularity proves that it is possible for people to interact with media showing sensitive content and still differentiate right from wrong. Someone can watch drugs being dealt and violence on TV and still understand that that is not a good way to spend their time.
However, that being said, the creators of this show still have an obligation to not romanticize controversial aspects of the show the way video games sometimes can. If they acknowledge negativity and continue telling every side of the story, then Euphoria has the potential to be very socially impactful because of what it depicts as opposed to in spite of it.