OPINION: Euphoria was never about realism


Brennan Eberwine

The tagline for “Euphoria” is reminiscent of what it means to be a teenager. Photo be Brennan Eberwine

Brennan Eberwine

The season two finale of “Euphoria” on Sunday, Feb. 27 officially wrapped things up for the show this year. The hit HBO teen comedy has attracted a booming fanbase both online and at Manual. It became a ritual for students to watch the show at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights and discuss which characters we hated on Monday mornings.

The age of streaming has seen the once-a-week episode release trend largely fall by the wayside. Now releasing whole seasons of a show at once and binge watching has become the common occurrence. However, Euphoria, with its Sunday at 9 p.m. showing each week, kept its hype for over a month: a feat in the age of quick trend cycles. The show generated significant attention after its first season in 2019, premiering to around 13.1 million viewers and only continuing to receive higher ratings throughout its run.

Most nearly every Euphoria watcher at Manual had an opinion to share come Monday. That is, much to the chagrin of people who didn’t watch the show and found the incessant conversations rather annoying.

“Elliot’s song was way too long and Lexi’s play wasn’t long enough. But seeing Cassie beat up [and] crying was exactly what I needed,” Gabi Tobias (11, YPAS) said, regarding the season two finale.

Although there is a lot of valid criticism lobbied at the show (Sam Levinson created plenty of plot holes) one of the most common criticisms is of how realistic the show is. Is high school really like this? Are we all going to school without a backpack and carrying around tiny purses? Well, no. Manual in specific is definitely nothing like “Euphoria High.” The hottest fashion for Manual students each year seems to be a combination of pajama pants, 50 pound backpacks and crippling seasonal depression.

“I would say that the amount of drama is realistic, but what happens in the drama and with the drama is not very realistic,”  Lauren Rone (10, HSU) said.

Teen dramas have never exactly been realistic. From “Degrassi” to “Skins,” the teenage drama needs to have high stakes to keep viewers engaged; and in reality, reality makes for a pretty boring TV show.

Euphoria’s strength doesn’t come from its approach to how high school looks, but rather how it feels. My mom watched the show with me in tandem. When we’d talk about the show, she’d remark about how much it reminded her of her years as a high schooler. This absolutely astonished and puzzled me. She explained that it wasn’t necessarily the use of narcotics that was relatable, but instead it was the characters’ emotions. The emotions they go through are universal to teenagedom. Exploring identity is a heavy focus, of which can be intoxicating and affirming for all of us watching, as we’re in a way seeing ourselves reflected. 

I didn’t quite understand exactly where my mom was coming from as a Gen X-er who’s been out of high school for four decades, but it all clicked for me at the end of the season two finale. 

At the end of Lexi’s play (the backdrop for most of the episode), Jules (played by iconic legend Hunter Schafer) walks over to Rue (played by iconic legend Zendaya) to tell Rue that she loves her and that she misses Rue a lot. Rue responds by simply kissing Jules on the forehead and walking away. In the monologue, Rue remarks that, “Jules was my first love, I’d like to remember it that way.” 

Jules (Hunter Schafer) walks over to Rue (Zendaya) to tell Rue that she loves her and that she misses Rue a lot, to which Rue kisses her on the forehead and walks away. Photo by Brennan Eberwine (Brennan Eberwine)

Rue had to move on for her sake, but she doesn’t leave Jules with resentment or anger. She leaves her behind with contentment.

This is the last season of Euphoria that will come out during my high school career (the next season is slated to be released in late 2023 or 2024), so in many ways it feels like a send off as I leave high school, a time when stakes seem so high and everything too close and crowded in a way. Although the feeling of heightened emotions may dilute as I go on throughout my life, the Euphoria tagline will still remain true: “Remember this feeling.”