By Rohail Spear || Managing Editor
My mom watches Euphoria—a drama about high schoolers navigating relationships, addiction, mental health issues, and sexuality. If that doesn’t tell you something about the show, I don’t know what will. But why is it so successful? A good show is a show with a good plot, good dialogue, and good acting. I think we can all agree, however, that Euphoria is more than just a good show.
First and foremost, Euphoria is an aesthetic. Set in a hazy world of neon colors silhouetting gorgeous people, Euphoria can be unrealistically, visually beautiful. As a result, viewers can often become immersed in this aesthetic. Our obsessive desire to live in that dark, sensual world is evidenced by Euphoria-themed parties, Euphoria-themed makeup looks, Euphoria-themed music, etc. The show has managed to create a unique, enticing atmosphere of smoke, lights, and beauty unlike any other—and we are captivated.
Of course, Euphoria would not be Euphoria without Labrinth. Responsible for both the instrumental soundtrack and several of the vocal songs, Labrinth’s music matches Euphoria’s mood perfectly. Sounds resembling a xylophone dance across spacey synths, often resembling a high. For more thrill-like scenes, such as the ones where Rue is on the run, Labrinth experiments with Billie Eilish-esque sounds that grab your ear and complement the action (to see what I mean, listen to Yeh I Fuckin’ Did it). Labrinth’s ability to create such a specific, unique sound contributes greatly to the show’s aesthetic: you don’t only see Euphoria, you can hear it too.
Does Euphoria glamorize mental health issues and addiction? Perhaps. (Am I the only one who wants to try molly after watching this? Just kidding…) But, unlike many other TV shows and movies, Euphoria is also real. Creator, writer, and director Sam Levinson was a drug addict, and the show’s authenticity reflects this. Euphoria captures how addiction can turn someone into a completely different person and how the addict’s loved ones are negatively affected. I don’t think any of us envy Rue’s mother, sister, Jules, Elliot, or even Rue for that matter—especially after watching the scene where Rue terrorizes and emotionally abuses them when they try to hold an intervention. At the end of the high, we are meant to see the low. And we do. As a result, the show doesn’t stray too far from reality; its grounded nature keeps it believable and retains our empathy for the characters.
However, Euphoria has been heavily criticized for being unrelatable. I wish that there were that many hot people in my high school, but there weren’t. I wish that drugs had been that accessible and widespread in my high school, but they weren’t. This, however, may actually be a good thing. Euphoria strikes the perfect balance between telling a real story about real characters and creating a fascinating, alternate world for the story to exist in. It needs an aesthetically pleasing, somewhat unrealistic setting (there is no way there can be so many drugs and violent people condensed into one small town) to offset its real-life, dark narrative. Because there are Rues in the world. There are Nates. There are Jules. There aren’t Maddys because no one is as iconic as Maddy, but still. The stories Euphoria tells are real enough that they can hit too close to home and become downright depressing if they don’t shimmer in glitter.
Sophomore Rohail Spear is the Managing Editor. His email address is email@example.com.