All Glitter, No Truth

The ugly truth behind the glamorous show

Euphoria might be the most watched and discussed series for young adults in America. During the release period for season two, many people jokingly referred to each Sunday as “Euphoria Day” in honor of the release of each episode. This much attention comes with controversy, due to the dubious decisions of the characters and the subject matter.

Euphoria does not disguise the fact that its content is dark. However, it is the presentation of these topics that many watchers and critics find questionable. 

One of the most well known aspects of the show is its flawless overarching aesthetic. Season one is filled with blue, pink, and purple hues, glittery makeup, a catchy original soundtrack, and flashy outfits. Season two switches to a 90’s effect, captured through the use of vintage archive film cartridges. Though the effect of the cinematography and makeup art is memorable and makes the show stand out, it also leads to questions surrounding the romanticization of the character’s negative decisions. For example, a scene in season one of Euphoria includes the main character, Rue, doing cocaine at a party. This leads to a beautifully choreographed sequence depicting her experience. Though Rue does experience many harsh consequences due to her addiction, many viewers will find that the most memorable scenes are the ones where her experiences with drugs are depicted positively. 

This also leads into the question of who Euphoria’s desired audience is. The actors are almost all in their mid 20’s portraying high schoolers. They also happen to be actors who are popular in the teen and pre-teen demographic, specifically ex-Disney star Zendaya and Kissing Booth actor Jacob Elordi. The trendy clothing and colorful aesthetic also hold appeal for younger viewers. Therefore, most viewers are college age or below. Who, exactly, is the intended audience of Euphoria? Is it adults, who are mature enough to watch content depicted in Euphoria and unlikely to be influenced by it? Likely not, because the show depicts young people, and utilizes actors that are popular for younger generations. Even worse is the idea that Euphoria is intended for young adults. The subject matter (and more importantly, aestheticization of it) doesn’t seem like a cautionary tale. Rather, the lack of consequences that the majority of characters receive sends the wrong message to young viewers. 

As a high school student, I understand the irritation that comes from being told that a piece of media is a bad influence. But, viewers of Euphoria are sometimes as young as middle school. I see how people who discuss Euphoria often avoid talking about the seriousness of the show, and rather focus on the petty dramas and fashion moments of the characters. Overall, though Euphoria is an enjoyable and well acted piece of television, viewers should be cautious of the messages that it sends.