OPINION: The Reality of Euphoria

Photo Credit: HBO Max

Photo Credit: HBO Max

Everett Taylor, OwlFeed Opinion Editor

Right before the premiere of season 2 of Euphoria, Zendaya, who plays Rue, wrote this warning to fans: “Just a reminder before tonight’s premiere, that Euphoria is for mature audiences. It’s a raw and honest portrait of addiction, anxiety and the difficulties of navigating life today.” 

This is a good warning to keep in mind as we consider how as of late Euphoria has been the biggest topic among teens. The drama is what we all live for, but what happens when we start to relate to just a little too much in very big ways?

The word euphoria is a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. In the show, they use it as a way to describe how drugs and alcohol cause this amazing feeling.  

For some teens that feeling comes from a number of different things. In Euphoria, drugs alcohol, sex, abuse, etc. are shown, all while casting a big shadow of what high school really is for some teens.

Let’s be real here, if I told you Euphoria is a prime example of what high school is really like you’d laugh at me, but in reality, it is different for everyone. Depending on what school you go to, who you hang out with or who your friends are, where you live, and how your relationship with your family is, how you relate to a show like this can vary. 

For both the cast and the fans the show has been a wild ride. Over the past few years, we have all faced a lot of hardships and a lot of different people found different ways to cope/deal with it. With New Years being one of the biggest and craziest events of the season, the characters are about to be thrown through the wringer.

“New Years, there is something that always feels ominous about that countdown,” said Sam Levinson, the writer, and director of Euphoria, at the end of episode 1 season 2. “The wish of the hope that the new year is going to be different, you know we tried to sort of approach it with that tension of what we know Rue is going through, Jules, Cassie, Maddy, Nate. The party is sort of an easy way to do that.” 

The New Years of 2021 and of 2022 we’re very similar. At the beginning of both of these years, a lot of people were expecting change, new possibilities, and overall for things to get better in the world. 

Anything but that happened. There were so many global catastrophes, while just average citizens were facing so many hardships, whether it was losing loved ones or financial problems or both.

As a teenager there’s not always a lot you can do to help out in situations like these, so what else is there to do? Well, a lot of teens during this time learned a lot about themselves whether they were good or bad things. A lot of self-realization happened during this time. 

“We wanted to create this montage of a state of emotion for all of the characters, to catch up emotionally where we are with them,” said Marcell Rev, the Director of Photography of Euphoria, at the end of episode 1 season 2.

The illegal use of drugs and alcohol is very high for teenagers. 47% of teens are predicted to use drugs before they graduate high school, and 14 million people of the age of 12 and older have been reported to have consumed alcohol. 

The dramatic effect of these things can seem so little at the moment, but just like in the show, it is only the calm before the storm. 

In season 1 of Euphoria, everything was like a party all night long, and everyone thought life was going their way. Rue tricks everyone into thinking she is sober, while Maddy and Cassie are trying to be “the best versions of themselves.”

Obviously that all went downhill as Cassie started to hook up with Nate and he was abusing Maddy. 

“We came up with this idea of telling it almost in these snapshots, these portraits, these fleeting moments,” Sam Levinson said. “So we killed all the lights, and put this giant 20k spotlight that we would just flash for a second, it was almost as if you were going back and looking at photos and you came across a shot of someone at a party,”  

The way the show portrayed the storyline was amazing, but it makes you really think because the way you see the first episode of season 2 is sometimes the way people say they feel when on drugs. 

The fandom is trying to justify some of the actions of the characters because all of them are in the wrong, but everyone seems to need to be able to hang on to at least one of the characters. 

The harsh reality of it is that none of them can really justify their actions, as characters and not the actors themselves. 

“We brought realness to the table,” said Hunter Schafer, the actress who plays as Jules,  “and a realness that maybe people have been afraid to bring forward, particularly with teenagers before and in a way that I think we only could’ve done on HBO, and it feels like now is the right time and it was the right place and the right channel and it just worked and people respond to realness – so, I hope that’s why.” 

Nate was physically and mentally abusing Maddy, Rue was doing so many hardcore drugs that she died more than once, Cassie is sleeping with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend, Jules cheated on her girlfriend — there is so much drama going on with these kids. 

And things like this happen in real life to real teenagers in high school. They may not happen in the same way but there are a lot of teens in high school who are struggling in some way. Many, many teens have certain problems around them, including drugs and alcohol, all while these affect their mental health.

All of these up and down, off and on days  — for everyone life is different, throwing all kinds of things at people. It is important to remember that and look out for others, even if it is just the bare minimum, like asking them about their day or giving them a compliment. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or needs help, reach out to your counselor, or call the National Drug Helpline at 1-844-289-0879.