Zoie Denton is an English sophomore and opinion columnist for Mustang News. The views expressed in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
How does one keep our generation’s attention? Develop a thoroughly thought out storyline? Create complex characters with semi-realistic personalities? Hire actual actors instead of porn stars? No hate to sex workers but their skill set doesn’t automatically translate to dramatic acting. None of those routes have worked for decades, yet Sam Levison was clearly unaware of that when he wrote “Euphoria.”
I enjoy this show thoroughly, along with millions of others, but that does not mean the show’s more controversial decisions and the impact they have on its viewers shouldn’t be reevaluated.
Levison might claim to be using this show as an avenue to delve into the life of a teenage addict and other heavy plot lines for the purpose of telling stories that are not often told; however, factors such as the intense sexualization of Sydney Sweeney’s character and the brutal violence of Ash’s death scene have left me wondering if the sake of all this violence and nudity is just because Levison wants to show to appear gritty, and not for any deeper meaning. This is also all presented to a world of young teenagers with very mutable minds.
“Euphoria” is his creation and, while he has the ability to put whatever he wants on his show, there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with that –– especially considering the undeniable effect that his latest work has had on people.
The way many viewers talk about “Euphoria” is concerning. People are addicted to it the way people get addicted to toxic relationships: through traumatic bonding.
When someone reveals troubling home and mental health issues within minutes of meeting you, they are not being vulnerable –– they are seeking attention. “Euphoria” mirrors this action by dumping upsetting situations on its audience with the intent to draw them in.
This show is reliant on the fact that you form this trauma bond, otherwise, you might start to notice the lack of substantive plot in favor of repeated scenes of violence and nudity. This content can be very triggering for many viewers and a twitter’s response reveals the onslaught of viewers saying they’re relapsing because of the content.
While the show has achieved its goal of presenting realistic addiction, that doesn’t mean addiction isn’t still glorified. It’s proving to be impossible to represent something so traumatic in a TV show that’s more obvious goal is to entertain.
Is this really art? Or are viewers all just the real life representation of Lexi Howard’s assistant, Bobbi, in the play scene where everything is going to shit and she keeps telling herself that “Lexi Howard is a genius”?
In reality, Sam Levison is the real life Lexi Howard and doesn’t have a plan at all. The audience is just consuming each traumatic event he chooses to throw at them.
“Euphoria” is not some daring, generation defining show. There is nobody walking through this show with young teens to inform them that these are not relationships to be looked up to, that their life will not be as glamorous as the character’s and that they will not get as many second chances as these characters do because their story is not a fictional one that needs to be dragged on through multiple seasons. “Euphoria” is a show that profits off of the poor coping skills of a generation with more trauma and mental health issues than ever before.