Much like many in this day and age, I devote each Sunday evening to catching up on Euphoria. I have been a fan of the hit show since the beginning, even before it took center stage in Gen-Z media. Naturally, I was excited to see the new season, but four episodes in, I’m actually conflicted about my status as a longtime fan. From toxic positivity to relapse, the new season of Euphoria explores a variety of adolescent issues, but at what cost?
After seeing the most recent episode, I felt overwhelmed and conflicted. First and foremost, I believe that a show with both a large platform and young viewers has an obligation to be intentional with what it shows. Euphoria hasn’t been known for modesty in the past, but the new season has ramped up the content. At a certain level, I understand graphic content in a program, but I believe that it should always be purposeful. Additionally, I believe that sex on screen can be used to empower marginalized communities, but it loses its power if it’s overdone. This is the sentiment I have about most of the graphic content in the show, especially nudity and drug paraphernalia. Sydney Sweeney spoke about the reception of men and women’s nudity on screen, citing a double standard favoring male actors. I agree with her observation, but I also personally believe in the fine line in womens’ representation on screen. Because of how women have been represented in the past, it’s easy for women characters to be misinterpreted as sex objects on screen, even if that’s not the director’s intentions. It seems like this is the problem with Cassie this season, which can easily be because most of the writers for the show are men.
Another issue I have with the new season is the decline in representation. The first season of Euphoria was an unparalleled example of positive representation. Seen especially in Jules and Kat’s storylines, which explored the experiences of both trans and plus-sized teens, season one showcased a large variety of intersecting identities. This season is less of the same; so far we’ve seen a major shift towards Cassie and Nate’s storyline at the expense of other characters of colors’ screen time. Instead of exploring the diverse identities that they have on hand, the producers and writers have made the conscious decision to exploit a toxic and manipulative situation without at least raising awareness for others in Cassie’s position. Euphoria has always been a show that has had the potential to create positive change in multiple arenas of society, but this season seems to have scrapped the real work and substituted it with cheap storylines and lazy writing. On a show that is exclusively watched by younger audiences, Euphoria needs to review the way it shows graphic content. In my opinion, the ultimate goal with any work is to make an impact. Euphoria has a lot of potential here, as seen in season one, but it stops short in following through with showing the resolution to most of the issues they showcase. These characters, who are high schoolers, have experienced so much already, and the producers often seem to drag out their struggles instead of using the situation as a way to echo positive change. If Euphoria wants to make changes in their production, they need to consult more diverse writers and work more with their actors to get their perspective, instead of consulting out-of-touch writers with no direct connection to the role.