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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

The Euphoria Effect: The dark consequences of teen television

The Euphoria Effect and how it influences teen televison.

Euphoria: A feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. This is the definition of the word that was meticulously selected as the title of the global phenomenon show Euphoria. The show itself served as a source of entertainment and comfort for Gen Z, but while viewers binge-watched their lives away, they failed to realize the harmful ideals they were supporting.

Since its beginning, Hollywood and the film industry have always had a dark side. With new groundbreaking documentaries such as Quiet On Set, which exposes the abuse and toxic environments of iconic children’s TV shows in the ’90s to early 2000s, the safety and well-being of child actors have been called into question. This concern has now been set at the forefront of conversation within modern media. Along with protecting the safety of child actors, minors watching said content needs to be protected as well. 

In the documentary, famous children’s television producer Dan Schneider is criticized for his constant use of sexualization and allusions to adult content in his TV shows meant for younger audiences. In Schneider’s shows, child stars like Amanda Bynes, Jamie Lynn Spears, and even the now global superstar Ariana Grande were forced to participate in what Dan considered ‘funny jokes.’ These scenes are now being called out for being blatant sex jokes that child audiences obviously could not understand at the time.

The film industry likes to act as if these instances of forcing children into compromising situations are just rare occurrences that happened due to people simply not knowing what they were doing. Claims like those are simply acts put on for show. The film industry knows exactly what they are doing; they have just found a new technique to mask it: using adult actors to play a minor role.

The show Euphoria is the perfect example of this technique. Euphoria follows seventeen-year-old Rue Bennet (played by twenty-seven-year-old actress Zendaya) as she battles with a severe opioid addiction along with using marijuana and heroin. The series also follows some of Rue’s classmates, such as Kat Hernandez, who is seventeen years old and in her junior year of high school.

Touching on sensitive topics in film is needed in today’s society, but the way Euphoria goes about it is what makes the show so harmful. 

The character Kat Hernandez is played by actress Barbie Ferreira, who is also twenty-seven years old. Kat struggles with body issues and decides to become a sex worker in order to make herself feel more confident. Kat’s body dysmorphia is used as a way to justify her sex work. Instead of focusing on the harm her actions can cause to her life, the show implies that she feels more confident due to her “job” and completely ditches her storyline in the second season of the show.

What makes Euphoria so popular is the cinematography and how visually striking it is. The creator, writer, and director of Euphoria, Sam Levinson, plays a big role in this. He specifically incorporates vivid and graphic scenes of drug use and sexual interactions in order to make the show seem as real as possible. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Levinson spoke on how the show is partly based on his own life. He shared how he made the show in order for teens to be able to relate and in his own words go, “Yeah, that’s my life.” There is nothing wrong with attempting to give minors media they can relate to, the problem arrives when the areas viewers are supposed to be able to relate to are negative, glorified, and offers little to none positive fixes. 

Euphoria overall normalizes and beautifies toxic behaviors, relationships, and environments while catering to a teen audience. The show thrives off of the “teens watching other teens” aspect that other popular high school shows such as Degrassi have succeeded in in the past.  The difference between these two shows is that one has actual teenage actors portraying teenage characters, and the other has actors who are supermodels pushing thirty years old, pretending they are seventeen. 

The film industry itself and Euphoria use older actors who are legally allowed to be nude on camera, smoke, and drink in order to promote this behavior to young minds. The effects of this tactic are extremely harmful and need to be brought to attention so that minors can get the real help that they need rather than seeking comfort from negative sources.

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