Explicit content in Euphoria: glorification or necessary depiction?

HBO’s hit show Euphoria depicts the journeys of teenage characters as they navigate a complicated social landscape of sex, drugs, and overall delinquency. It follows the main character, Rue, as she becomes more and more entrenched in a drug addiction. Side plots depict such storylines as Rue’s friends becoming entangled in sexual affairs with adults, threatening each other with guns, and above all, sneaking around behind their parents’ backs.

Sexual and graphic content in regards to teenagers is nothing new in media. We’ve seen it in the past with shows such as Skins, DeGrassi, and Beverly Hills, 90201. However, Euphoria has stirred up a unique controversy in that it revolves almost entirely around drug usage as a plot point, as well as depicts teenage characters (portrayed by adult actors) in explicit sexual positions with full-frontal nudity. In certain scenes, drug addiction almost looks enjoyable: attractive, thin, and happy-looking teens are all too happy to be high at any moment they can.

This has been the topic of many an argument among viewers: is it dangerous to depict teenagers engaging in such behavior, as it may be read as inspiring or encouraging to a young audience? Conversely, is it important to depict the realities of these issues and not to shy away from tough topics, thus cementing their taboo within society? There certainly are teenagers today that deal with and engage in such activities. Should we be thinking of them and providing media with a representation of the struggles they face, or will such a show encourage straight-edged teens to move in a different direction?

  • Glorification or necessary depiction? I think this is a really interesting topic for discussion in relation to Euphoria, but also other shows (those already mentioned but also many others such as 13 Reasons Why) as well as in literature. Is art imitating life or is it the other way around? And, how much responsibility does a director/writer/artist have to take for how their work is perceived or responded to? – Userpays 2 years ago
  • A show so explicit yet mainstream is definitely worst discussing. It has become a cultural phenomenon and impacted various different industries. Maybe the discussion should not focus so much around whether it is a show that needs to be made, as this could just lead to speculations around the writer/producer's intentions. It might be more productive to consider what elements of the show are drawing young people in. The sound track, fashion and makeup looks have been particularly influential on Gen Z. What impact have the specific elements in the show had on Western culture? – Writingitseems 1 year ago

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