HBO's hit show Euphoria is the latest drama aimed at highlighting the Gen-Z experience. Following in the footsteps of shows like Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why, the Zendaya-starring show centers on teenage angst as its characters navigate sex, drugs, and friendships in the social media age.
However, whether the show is an accurate depiction of modern-day teenagers is up for debate, so we asked young adults what they really think about Euphoria:
Devyn Carson, 16
"I think Euphoria isn’t necessarily an exact representation of teen life in 2019, but it definitely checks some boxes that other series don’t dare take on. For example, I don’t know very many completely drug-dependent teens in my life, and I personally have never experienced revenge porn, but the whole idea of hiding important experiences and thoughts from your parents, and the entire twisted atmosphere that the show creates is entirely too familiar. The party scenes are [done well], and the pressure faced by peers is not as far off and crazy as someone from a different generation would think. The show captures the fact that teen life is no longer just frilly skirts and bubblegum; it is distorted and perplexing and corrupt and it is only just getting worse."
Hannah Follman, 22
"I believe Euphoria is exactly what TV needed—an honest and raw look at the damaging and dangerous side of 'harmless' drugs. Even more so, Rue's [relationship with her] family allows viewers to see that all ages are affected, and in no way is [addiction] the parents' fault or a disease a child can break free from on their own terms. The use of certain angles and filming techniques allows the audience to see inside Rue's mind when she experiences the high. As outsiders, we easily question why [addicts] keep using, but now we understand the feeling of comfort it provides the user."
Lily Elisha, 23
"I think the behavior portrayed in Euphoria speaks to the reality of our generation craving excitement and that rush of adrenaline. Maybe we have too much content accessible to us at our fingertips, which is why we go to such great lengths to find that excitement and get a rise out of people—like Maddy [publicly] fucking a random guy in a pool at a party to spite her boyfriend Nate. Consequently, Nate nearly kills the guy. This show is emotions on acid, and maybe that’s the only remarkable difference between the show and real life. While we want to have excitement and adrenaline, the reality is most people are afraid to put themselves out there like that and really fucking live. Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing, I can’t really say, but I think that’s how it is."
Kayla Ward, 20
"I am kind of a fan of the show, but I had to take a break from it for the same reason I have my answer to this question: Is it a realistic look at life in 2019? I think the show's really good at ticking the boxes when it comes to the problems that are happening in 2019, but when it really comes down to it, I think it’s trying a little too hard to be relatable. They’re dealing with a lot of heavy stuff that needs to be talked about, so I respect them for that, but overall I think they’re normalizing it and making it seem like all of these problems are happening within the world of one person."
Riva Rubin, 15
"Teens now look for releases from the stress of living in such a fast-paced time. Euphoria takes stress out of the equation and just shows these sexual or drug-influenced coping mechanisms and makes them the central focus. It draws an audience in because it shows what really happens with teens today, just put all together."
Clarice Greene, 18:
"As an 18-year-old female I can say that the show can be frighteningly on point many times. To say every Gen Z child can relate is farfetched, but to those of us who went down the paths those kids went through, it’s relatable and comforting. With Rue at the center, she stands for the changes we can make in ourselves. We don’t want to feel the way we do or take the things we do, but we do anyway. She sets the tone that life continuously marches forward and a person has to make the hardest changes if they want to survive somewhat happily here."
Paulina Golebiewska, 16:
"The series Euphoria... is a lot. I don’t particularly like it, because I sense that it tries to be more 'shocking' and 'edgy' rather than genuine. Although the depictions of revenge porn, sex, and drug use are relevant to a lot of people, I think Euphoria does its best to push boundaries in terms of being over-the-top extreme. In general, the show comes off as voyeuristic and tries too hard to turn real, serious habits into entertainment for a hungry audience looking for aesthetics. It would be easy to call this show relatable for some people, but at a certain point, is it truly just trying to 'examine' social habits and show a 'raw' reality, or does it just use those habits to create the most edgy and artsy show possible? It just rubs me the wrong way."
Jocelyn Borden, 17:
"I’m a 17-year-old high schooler from Northern California, born September 21, 2001, 10 days after 9/11, seven days after the main character Rue. Like Rue, I’ve struggled with OCD, generalized anxiety, ADHD, and major depression my whole life. I’ve grown up watching a lot of ‘teen’ shows, shows that, while entertaining, in no way represented me or my peers. Every depiction of drug abuse and mental illness I’ve seen in television marketed towards my generation is either disgustingly glamorized, completely untrue, or both. I was really happy to see that this wasn’t the case with Euphoria. I started the show with pretty low expectations, mostly because I’d heard about it in the same regard I had heard of TV shows like Pretty Little Liars, or 13 Reasons Why and other shows like that. As I started watching the show I felt like a punch to the stomach on how closely I felt it affected me. Watching Rue’s family get torn apart by drugs and the relationships she has with her friends, classmates, dealers, lovers, doctors, and just strangers, was incredibly emotional for me."
Maya Fernbaugh, 18:
"Euphoria represents a new generation of teens, a more realistic version. For me personally, I feel as though I can relate to every character in some way. Especially with the newer episodes about Kat. Watching her struggle with her weight from such an early age to turning into a fanfiction writer really just hit home for me. I remember being 13, staying up writing fanfiction about The Walking Dead or reading cheesy fanfic about One Direction. But I feel that way about all of them, honestly. All these characters are seeking validation from someone or something in some way in a very modern style."
Sarah Vilcnik, 18:
"However awkward and uncomfortable it is to watch these scenes play out on TV, it is all the more uncomfortable to live them. Even the small things, like the weird, not-always-warranted, short-but-painful sex you have when you’re young, 'just to see', or the relationship abuse that your friends go through and not always knowing the right way to handle a situation like that. The essence of being young is not having a clue what you’re doing or what is going on around you, and I believe that this show portrays that better than any other I’ve seen."
This article originally appeared on VICE US.