The euphoria around Euphoria

Being the latest high school drama show, Euphoria has gained a lot of hype amongst teenagers. But what does “euphoria” mean? According to Merriam-Webster, euphoria can be defined as “a feeling of great happiness and excitement.” And that’s exactly what this show is about— high schoolers constantly craving this feeling of happiness by any means necessary, whether that be through alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.
The reason why so many people enjoy Euphoria is because it’s relatable. It brings a different take on high school drama that shows like Riverdale, 13 Reasons Why, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager failed to accomplish. Euphoria may not cover the epic highs and lows of high school football, but it does cover much more serious topics, such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, abuse, and so much more. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers for season two below!
On one hand, Riverdale tries so hard to cover these issues, but fails miserably every time. Notorious for its terrible plotlines, most of Riverdale’s content is included purely for shock value, which makes it feel as though so much is happening, but at the same time, nothing is really happening, leaving each episode feeling empty and incomplete. While Riverdale does cover sensitive topics, it tends to romanticize and fictionalize underage drinking and drug abuse. In season three, we see this with the introduction of “jingle jangle,” the hot new drug that all the teens are trying these days! But seriously, jingle jangle? That sounds like something an elf would snort. Even though the name of the drug is an homage to “Jingle Jangle,” a song by The Archies, giving this highly addictive substance such a goofy name, makes teenage drug abuse seem like a less serious issue and ultimately depersonalizes the experience for many viewers.
13 Reasons Why is yet another high school drama that tried so hard, but came up short with each new season. The first season was not terrible, and actually, it brought a lot of awareness to suicide prevention; however, the show drug on for three more seasons, which minimized the impact of the first season. After the first season, the show stopped being about suicide prevention and started being about how everyone else’s lives went to garbage after the main character killed herself. It feels like the audience is being guilt-tripped into not commiting suicide instead of being encouraged to get the proper help they need. Additionally, 13 Reasons Why lost a decent portion of its audience after the second season because it stopped being enjoyable.
Now, The Secret Life of the American Teenager: where to begin with this one? The show is all about teen pregnancy and the consequences of it. Of course, teen pregnancy is a relatable topic for many high schoolers, but this show is constantly putting down teenagers. All of the characters have terrible judgment and decision-making skills, and they’re always making some kind of mistake that is unforgivable. That’s not to say that teenagers don’t screw up, but it’s hard to see a character you relate to constantly make bad decisions and not catch a break for any of them.
So what makes Euphoria different? According to Daniel Dunn, a senior at Lanier, “Euphoria is so much different than these other TV show high schools because it’s representing modern-day high school…With Euphoria, you really feel like what they’re experiencing is at your own doorstep…I also love how each character is on their own journey and is seeking something unique, good and bad.”
For me, I think what makes Euphoria so different is that it hits home for a lot of people. We get to see a backstory on most characters in the show, which allows viewers to relate to not only the characters in their present-day self, but also they can relate to the characters’ younger selves and the traumas that they suffered. The actual storylines make the show captivating alone; however, the actors are who really bring it home. In particular, Zendaya, Jacob Elordi, Hunter Schafer, and Sydney Sweeney do a spectacular job of portraying Rue, Nate, Jules, and Cassie, respectively. Their acting makes it feel like they are not just playing a character, which makes the show even more enjoyable to watch.
Euphoria is a very personal show for many people. The characters struggle with a variety of issues, which makes it easy for everyone to relate to at least one character in the show, making the watching experience all the more enjoyable and personal. Recently, Euphoria was cleared for a third season! That being said, seasons one and two are available to watch on HBO Max, with each episode being roughly an hour long and each season having eight respective episodes.