The Problem With Euphoria

Leah Pataky , Contributing Writer

This article originally appeared in Patrick Henry High School’s ‘The Patriot Press’ in January 2022. It has been lightly edited for republication.

On Sunday, January 9, 2022), the highly anticipated second season of the HBO television series Euphoria premiered. The show gained a mass of followers in 2019 when it was released and quickly became one of the most critically acclaimed shows to ever hit streaming services.

In season one, viewers follow Rue (Zendaya), who just got out of rehab and has no intention of staying clean, until she meets Jules (Hunter Schafer), the new girl in town. The two quickly become best friends, and viewers watch as their and their classmates’ lives intersect in shocking and irreparable ways.

There is no denying that the acting, cinematography, and story are all incredibly done. However, the show has one major problem: it should not be a teen drama.

Although teens today are exposed to many of the things that the characters in Euphoria deal with, such as sexual and physical abuse, substance abuse, blackmail, and more, the actors who play these characters do not look remotely like they are in high school. The actors look like adults, which gives teenagers, who are incredibly impressionable, the wrong ideas about what their bodies should look like. 

Additionally, there are a plethora of sex scenes in Euphoria, and while some do depict problems that can arise in sex, like misconceptions due to pornography or abuse, the show does not make it clear enough that sex as a teenager is awkward, weird, and overall not always enjoyable. 

In fact, the show glamorizes sex and sex work, specifically through the character of Kat who gets paid for private online sessions with older men. This is extremely harmful because it instills the wrong ideas in teens about how sexually active they should be, and how they should feel about sex. The show rarely shows a character who is scared or simply does not have an interest in sex, despite the fact that these characters are in high school.

Though I agree sex should not be stigmatized for teens, it should not be glamorized.

Euphoria is marketed as TV-MA and marketed towards young adults, yet it is set in a high school. Why not set the show on a college campus instead, while still marketing towards high schoolers?

The disconnect between the setting, who is allowed to watch the show, and who is actually watching it, makes Euphoria a harmful show for high schoolers. The show would be greatly improved and more realistic if it was set in a college or university, and it would be less damaging because, while high schoolers may watch the show, they will not feel like the show is an accurate representation of high school.

I won’t ask you to not watch Euphoria – I will continue to watch the show – but I do ask that when watching it you recognize this is not something to model your high-school life off of, and it should be enjoyed for entertainment only.

By Leah Pataky, Patrick Henry High School