No, I’m not talking about Miley, or Selena…I’m talking about the 2019 Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards “Favorite Female TV Star,” Zendaya, who many of you might know as ‘MJ’ in the most recent Spiderman: Far from Home…and let’s just say her most recent HBO show Euphoria is a little far from home.
Exactly how far does this TV-MA series stray?
The plot “keywords” might give you an idea. Pop on IMDB.com (the Internet Movie DataBase) and type in “Euphoria” and take a quick gander:
I guess that about wraps it up.
If you haven’t already heard about HBO’s Euphoria, produced by Canadian rapper Drake, then you might want to pay attention, or go check the parental controls on your kids’ screens, because teens are definitely buzzing about a show that some young people say “can be frighteningly on point”…which is terrifying to parents because the series shows every last one of those ‘keywords’ listed above.
What are critics calling it?
“A brutally honest answer to what growing up Gen Z might be like.”
So are the critics right? Is Euphoria an artistic “mirror” of our culture, or perhaps something a little more irresponsible?
I recall youth culture expert Walt Mueller dissecting entertainment media and noting how it can act as both a “mirror” and a “map.” On one hand it mirrors pop culture today, but on the other hand it becomes a map to young viewers on how to act. Sadly, shows like this one might claim to be a “mirror,” but it’s undeniably loaded with imitatable behaviors. In fact, many critics have chosen the word “gratuitous” to describe all the “culture” the show unveils.
Indie Wire describes the show as “the most sexually fluid TV show every produced by Hollywood.”
HBO describes their own series as “following a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media.”
That summarizes it pretty well. In the pilot a girl named Kat admits that she is a virgin, and Jules, played by Hunter Schafer, who, like her character, is trans, shouts, “Bitch, this isn’t the 80’s—you need to catch a di*k!”
Kat does, later in the episode, confessing to her friend, “I just lost my virginity.”
“Oh my God,” her friend replies. “I’m so proud of you!”
And if you’re wondering exactly how far Euphoria goes, The Guardian describes it as “so explicit in its weary portrait of drug use and sex that it makes Skins look positively Victorian.” And in case you didn’t get enough sex, drugs and full-frontal nudity in Episode 1, Episode 2 shows (count em’) 30 penises.
Maybe that’s why creator Sam Levinson said, this “isn’t really intended for a teenage audience at all.”
But audiences are tuning in. In fact, the first-season finale of Euphoria delivered the show’s biggest audience to date for HBO.
So what would young people glean if they turned away from their screens and just listened to the dialogue?
Listen for yourself. Here’s Rue’s (Zendaya) commentary about sending nudes:
Here’s the fu*king thing that pisses me off about the world. Every time someone’s sh*t gets leaked whether it’s JLaw or Leslie Jones, the whole world’s like, “If you don’t want it out there don’t take the nudes in the first place.” I’m sorry. I know your generation relied on flowers and father‘s permission, but it’s 2019, and unless you’re Amish, nudes are the currency of love. So stop shaming us. Shame the a**holes who create password-protected online directories of naked underage girls.
There you have it. Sending nudes is the currency of love. Only a**holes who distribute kiddie porn are bad.
How did Zendaya choose this roll?
That’s what the Guardian asked her.
“I was having this weird section in my life where I didn’t really know what I was going to do next,” said Zendaya. “Everything I was reading just wasn’t right. I was like: ‘I’m not going to have a job. I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Then Euphoria came along and all the worries that I had had before, or ideas I’d had about what I needed to do or should do, just went through the window. I was just like: ‘I want to do this. This feels right.’”
Is it good to talk with your kids about the issues brought up in this show?
Is this show the means to have those conversations?
Not even close.
Are you having these conversations?
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