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HBO’s Euphoria: Shock and Awe

Austin Bruns
July 16, 2019

We’re two episodes into HBO’s new show, Euphoria, and the series has already drawn a lot of attention due to its willingness to push boundaries--and its overall shock value. You may have heard about the rampant sex, drugs, and well... more sex and drugs in the breakout drama, which explores the lives of a bunch of high schoolers in a seemingly normal suburb. The show is full of eccentric characters, colorful scenery, heavy bass music, wild partying, violence, and all kinds of debauchery.

Sure, the show will probably make you uncomfortable, make your eyes go wide, and make your mouth drop open, but does that necessarily mean it’s any good? Is the series just trying to be controversial as a tool to pull in its audience? Does it accurately capture the realities modern of teenage life?

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'Euphoria' - airing now on HBO

First off, I like that the show features actors and actresses that I’m not familiar with. Many of the show’s performers are in their breakout roles, holding their own on a difficult show dealing with intense subject matter. The actors portraying Rue, Kat, Nate, Fez, and Jules all have developed unique identities for their characters and have the ability to dominate their  scenes. 

Speaking of the subject matter, I appreciate the show’s willingness to tackle some of the heaviest problems facing America’s youth today. In the first two episodes, it covers cyber-bullying, drug addiction, dysfunctional family life, online dating nightmares, pornography, and more. The viewer is thrown right into the spiral of doubt and confusion that the characters are caught up in. We’re whipped around alongside them as they try to navigate difficult and turbulent lives--all while trying to seem as cool and collected as possible. An overarching theme certainly seems to be that all the characters on the show have legitimate reasons to be falling apart, but all act like they have everything completely put together. What’s more high school than that?

On the other hand, I can definitely see why the show is taking some flak for pushing the whole “shock value” thing a little too far. At times the show seems to be laying teenage drama on a little too thick. It comes off as trying to be edgy rather than a meaningful commentary on teenage life in America. Overall the show has been solid through the first two episodes, and I look forward to seeing how the story develops over the rest of the season. 

How do you feel about Euphoria? What do you think the show gets right, and where does it fall short? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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