“Euphoria” not appropriate for teens

Euphoria is one of the most popular shows among teenagers, but it may be doing them harm.

HBO’s Euphoria first aired in 2019 and immediately became a hit. The show stars Zendaya as Rue Bennet, a teenage girl freshly out of rehab. It also follows main characters Kat, Jules, Maddy, and Cassi as they navigate high school and their paths intertwine. The series’s lack of hesitation on covering taboo topics was a huge appeal of the show as it first aired, but it is slowly becoming more unrealistic. With the Season 2 finale, it felt as if the writers were continuously trying to top the last episode and create more ridiculous, almost impossible scenarios for their characters.

While the show does not depict the characters in what anyone would consider to be favorable circumstances, it does glamorize the characters’ troubles. The actors are all at least seven years older than their on-screen personas, and a main appeal of Euphoria is the attractiveness of the main characters and elaborate costuming. The lighting, set design, and storytelling all come together to create a narrative that is romanticized and makes the viewer almost envious of the characters’ poor circumstances. This can influence teenagers to participate in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors because of the positive depictions they see on-screen. Even if the show does not encourage teens to partake in the behaviors, it still serves to normalize them, leading teenagers to be less likely to get help for themselves or a friend because they categorize the experience as “part of being a teenager.”

Another big issue with the show is the age gap between the actors and their characters. Showing fully grown adults and depicting them as real teens can influence adolescents’ perception of what they should look like and provide new insecurities.

Euphoria displays unrealistic characters in an unrealistic world and presents it as real life. That is, of course, what most TV shows do, but the characters and plot are all glamorized and presented as something almost desirable. Ultimately, Euphoria is damaging to the teen psyche and is a glamorized portrayal of unhealthy, destructive lifestyles.