Reflecting on: Euphoria

3 thoughts on “Reflecting on: Euphoria”

  1. Euphoria lacks the subtlety of My So-Called Life. The earlier show was considered cutting edge at the time. But it never felt particularly edgy to my mind as a high schooler when it came out. It did tackle some tough topics and yet did so with a light touch. Euphoria needed to tone down the drama. It’s not that it rang entirely false. Still, the narrative was a lot of melodrama, more than the average teen ever experiences. Sure, psychopathic jocks exist in the real world, although they are rare creatures.

    You make a good point that the obsession with sex and drugs is odd for a show supposedly portraying a generation with lower rates of sex and drug use. I’ve been aware of this long before this show. With the Millennial generation onward, youth are much more tame and prudish, at least going by the data. GenZ is having less sex than even Millennials. My nieces and nephew are GenZ. They live such over-protected lives. How are they going to have much sex or do many drugs when they are almost constantly supervised by adults?

    The portrayal of teens in Euphoria maybe has more to do with the source material. The original Israeli show was created and written by Ron Leshem and directed by Dafna Levin, both GenXers. They might’ve been writing more about their own generation, especially Leshem who is American. The creator of the US version is not GenX, but he is an older Millennial, more of what some call the MTV Generation that crosses over to younger GenXers such as myself. Older Millennials, by the way, also would’ve grown up watching My So-Called Life.

    Among GenXers, it is a fact that much was amiss. It wasn’t only sex and drugs, but also seen in rates of violent crime, bullying, suicides, child poverty, etc. Some of it probably has to do with the spike in lead toxicity rates starting with the youngest Boomers and continuing through GenX. Lead toxicity is known to cause permanent brain damage, not only affecting cognitive development but worsening aggressive behavior and impulse control. A causal link has been shown particularly for violent crime which began a downward trend in the 1990s, a 20 year lag after environmental regulations decreased lead pollution.

    It’s unsurprising that GenXers are projecting their own youthful memories and fears onto the next generation. Many of those GenZ kids have GenX parents. But those GenX parents probably don’t appreciate how much has changed. So, in reaction to their having been under-parented, GenXers create fantasies of GenZ kids out of control that justify how they are over-parenting. Then in reaction, those kids will likely grow up to be laidback and unrestrictive with their own kids. It’s a repeating pattern that William Strauss and Neil Howe discuss in their generational theory.

    If you think of Euphoria as the fearful and distorted fantasy of parents who are GenXers and older Millennials, it makes more sense. Samuel Levinson is a young parent, I might note.

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    1. As a 21 year old gen-Z myself, my particular social circle in Wellington, New Zealand and previous high school experiences are contrary to the USA data I’ve been reading about. In New Zealand it’s (unfortunately) culturally normal to start drinking at 14, even 13 years old, and most of us had developed serious binge drinking dependencies before we even turned 18, which is the legal drinking age. Huge amount of my peers chain smoke and take drugs on a regular basis, and no shortage of sexual activity. Most people had already had sex at 14. Regardless, I still didn’t really relate to this show, shows like My So-Called Life, SKAM Norway, Puberty Blues and Skins resonate with me so much more on a cultural level.


      1. I know little about New Zealand and even less about New Zealand teen culture and behavior. Most of the data I’m familiar with, of course, is from the US. Generational patterns are already generalized to a great degree within a single country, but apply even less to entirely different populations elsewhere.

        What you describe really does sound different. Drinking and smoking was not uncommon for my generation, not that my friends or I did either in high school. I went to high school in the American South, specifically South Carolina. There was definitely a local culture of smoking and drinking, including among many teens. I heard about parties among my classmates with binge drinking.

        As for US Millennials and GenZers, I definitely don’t see much smoking, since smoking has become taboo. Even vaping doesn’t seem too popular. Living in a college town, the drinking scene has become much more tame this past decade. But I have no personal informants on teen sexuality these days and so all I can go by is the US data I’ve seen. I wonder why New Zealand is so different.

        It’s interesting that, as GenZ, you relate more to My So-Called Life, a show that was made years before you were born. The other shows you mentioned I haven’t watched. I have come across Skins, as it’s available on Netflix. But I see the other two are on DailyMotion. I’ll check them out.

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