Euphoria: Melodrama Without the Romanticism

Content warning: discussion of mental illness, terminal illness, drug addiction, domestic abuse, and abortion

About six months ago, I watched Euphoria. Since then, I have watched it another three times, and each time have cried and laughed throughout. I’ve heard people call it the Skins of the USA because of its tackling of mental health issues and drug misuse. However, unlike in Skins, Euphoria does not romanticise any of these aspects. Instead, Euphoria is both unsettling and beautiful, presenting many of the issues that GenZ could be facing.

In this article, I’m not necessarily talking about the vivid makeup looks and the outfits that have defined new eras of fashion. Instead, I’m talking about how Euphoria builds these characters up simultaneously within the environment they live. Each of the characters have intense and descriptive back stories which explain their actions within the storyline. This gives us an emotive connection to these characters and helps us understand their character development; the problems they face are often heart-breaking and their storylines thus, are sometimes bleak.

Rue (played by the now Emmy-winner Zendaya) is a character central to the plot. Rue is ridden with drug addiction, and we first meet her straight out of rebab without any indication that she wants to change her ways. Rue’s back story portrays the scenes of her father who was bedridden with terminal illness, which is how Rue first became exposed to drugs. In addition to this, we see her struggles with mental health, including indications of OCD and anxiety in her childhood. Here, we can see a classic example of how people can become predisposed to drug addiction though mental illness and childhood trauma. Thus, when we see Rue doing drugs at a party or with new love interest Jules, it is unsettling and causes direct anxiety. In terms of drugs, the show presents it as a problem that many teens face instead of romanticising misuse like many other teen melodramas.

In Euphoria, the characters face many problems including domestic abuse, abortion and insecurities. Also, the show tackles a lot of issues relating to sex and presents it in a raw form. Nothing is hidden in this TV series and that’s what makes it so enjoyable and heart-breaking to watch.

If you find yourself in self-isolation with nothing to do, I recommend watching Euphoria. I’ll be re-watching it again soon, with different empathies for different characters. And on Halloween, like many others, I’ll be wearing the same costume as character Cassie, who embodies Alabama from True Romance.

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