Which, well, kind of. Her addiction, she explains, began with a panoply of different diagnoses including ADHD and OCD, and with medication that left her feeling numb even as it failed to alleviate her semipermanent state of panic.
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So stop shaming us. In other scenes, though, Levinson seems only to want to scandalize. The story of Kat Barbie Ferreira features the degrading loss of her virginity, followed by a foray into cam-work that the series questionably suggests could be empowering. But the show also has a clear, meta grasp of how influential works of pop culture can be. I can't tell the difference between a college student and a high school student. Twitch confuses and fascinates me. Jake Paul—and YouTube stars in general—fill me with an existential dread.
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I grew up on teen dramas like Skins and Degrassi. I consumed them. I loved them.
I wanted to be these problematic kids doing drugs and having promiscuous sex. This was extremely my shit. Teenagers today—the teenagers who are the subject of this particular drama—were not alive for an event that has defined the entire world in which I exist. They've experienced the world in a fundamentally different way than I have—being born and introduced to the world on the other side of a terrorist attack that has changed every aspect of American life in the last two decades. Over the course of the next hour of Euphoria , my emotions oscillated between the weight of my own ancient bones and absolute unbridled fear for the teens.
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It's horrifying, yes, and salacious, but it's not just shocking for the sake of shock value. Euphoria —which delves into a generation struggling to come of age in a time of nude selfies, and dating apps, and easy access to pornography—does this with the purpose of trying to understand Generation Z and pinpoint the experience of being a teenager in , while holding adults accountable for creating a fucked up world and leaving their children to fend for themselves within it.
Euphoria stars Zendaya as Rue, a numb teenager who is grappling with the grief of her deceased father. She's been misdiagnosed by doctors and therapists her whole life, and she's attempted to self-medicate her depression and anxiety with drugs and alcohol. When the series opens, she's just being released from rehab after the summer before her junior year of high school.
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She has no intention of staying clean, though, as she buys drugs from someone whom I'm convinced is an actual child in the very next scene. Speaking of drugs, yes, there are a ton of drugs in Euphoria —frighteningly so. Yes, there is sex, there is vaping, and there's one extremely disturbing rape scene in this first episode.
It will be a controversial show— and already is, in fact. But, where the likes of Skins and Degrassi and more recently the likes of 13 Reasons Why glamorized teenage drugs and self-harm, Euphoria operates from a very narrow, and surprisingly responsible, point of view. Then, shortly afterward, we see a flashback to her near-fatal overdose. We see the horror and confusion on her sister's face as she finds her older sibling.
We see Rue's mother break down in tears as her daughter takes a drug test Rue has strapped a Visine bottle of her friend's clean urine to her leg to pass. And that's the window—through Rue's perspective—that we see the world of Gen Z.
Rue is self-aware about her own behavior, and she's—for lack of a better term—woke about what happens to herself and her peers. This is a show that sets out to understand a younger generation, rather than to simply get some intrusive pleasure out of watching their self-destructive behavior. This isn't about re-living the wilder days of youth, this is about understanding the world that we've wrought for our children.
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Where Skins and Degrassi were simply over-the-top scandalous shows designed for escapist drama, Euphoria exists with a point to make about the struggles and dangers of teenage life, and the greater social issues of our society. Culled from the actual experiences of creator Sam Levinson, the show seeks out realism, while also analyzing these scenarios through Rue's teenage perspective, which is surprisingly moral given her many bad decisions. As far as I could tell—a decade removed from being a teen myself— Euphoria accurately captures a social existence defined by texting, by dating apps, by PornHub, by dick pics, and nude selfies.