Euphoria: taking teen issues to the TV screen


courtesy of Hulu

HBO’s first teen drama, Euphoria, premiered its season’s first episode in June 2019 and aired its last episode in August 2019. Interested viewers can stream all episodes of the show on Hulu’s website online. The show portrays Rue, a 17-year-old teen who struggles with drug abuse and her friends who each struggle with their own coming of age stories.

Michelle Lin, Staff

From Disney Channel’s Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover, Zendaya Coleman enters the adult film world playing the 17-year-old protagonist of HBO’s newest show, Euphoria. In the show, Coleman stars as the main character, Rue Bennet, a drug-addicted teen struggling to find a purpose in life. The show combines real young adult issues in the modern world with an intriguing plot for viewers not only to enjoy but to connect with societal issues. Euphoria consists of several main characters who each portray their own unique backstory.

The show starts off with Rue on her way back home from rehab as she tells the story of how she ended up there and why she turns to drugs whenever she feels empty. Even though she knows that it would hurt her family if anything bad actually happened to her, she continues to take non-prescription pills and drink alcohol to relieve her of symptoms from her mental illnesses, namely depression. It took until she befriended the new girl in town that Rue came to realize that she did not need drugs to make herself happy.  

The other main character, Jules Vaughn (played by Hunter Schafer), also deals with her own internal struggles. Similar to Rue, Jules also dealt with depression as a child, causing her to attempt suicide and end up in a mental hospital. As a consequence of her transition from a male to a female at age 11, she decides to explore the online dating world, looking specifically for older men. This leads to a bad case of catfishing where one of her classmates, Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi), uses Jules’s personal information to blackmail her. 

Nate’s character adopts this abusive and manipulative villain persona to protect his family and his secrets. Even though Nate plays a teenage boy that expresses extreme masculinity, behind the scenes, he struggles with his sexuality and will go to any lengths to hide it. The show depicts Nate’s wealth, psychopathic tendencies, and characteristics of white privilege to represent our modern society.

Nate’s girlfriend, Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) also becomes an important character in the show. She plays one of Nate’s girlfriend, who seems to trap herself in a continuous cycle of abuse. Maddy understands how violent Nate can become, but possibly because he buys her everything she wants, she claims that she loves him regardless of his actions. Demie’s character symbolizes real-world situations where teens find themselves struggling with a toxic relationship.

Euphoria illustrates various controversial topics such as abortion, sexuality, abuse, and drug addiction and brings a lot of attention to the dangers of social media. In fact, several other shows such as 13 Reasons Why and Good Trouble use that same concept to represent the struggles of teen life. Viewers can watch all eight episodes of Euphoria on Hulu to decide if it deserves the attention it receives in the media.

Chant Grade: A+