SAN ANTONIO – After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus with a two-part special in between, Euphoria returns to offer youthful angst, mental health issues, and big feelings.

The hard-hitting and unapologetic themes presented in HBO’s new series, Euphoria, have continued to stir much controversy since the pilot of the second season episode aired in January 2022. Critics of the show feel that Euphoria is too graphic, too raw, and too provoking for a young audience. However, the show is meant to portray a raw and honest view of teens’ experiences today – their struggles with alcohol, drugs, mental health, relationships, and simply their attempts to figure out who they are.

The first episode of Euphoria season two opens blatantly, nothing short of what was expected yet, surprising. An almost ten-minute flashback recounts the relationship between drug-dealing Fezco (Angus Cloud) and the gangster grandmother who raised him unfolds in a briskly edited rush of imagery.

The second season of Euphoria seems to be preoccupied with a timeworn moral sentiment and question. Quotes like “I don’t know if I’m a good person,” “You’re not the good guy,” and “I did not say you are not a good girl” seem to be prevalent in the theme of the show. What makes a person “good” or “bad” seems like a cliché concern for a show whose popularity is built on the hyper-stylized portrayal of Gen Z antics. Nevertheless, uselessly chasing an absolute answer is a relatively fitting endeavor for the misguided, stress-inducing teen characters at the center of the series.

“I think that Gen Z connects with some of the simple characteristics of these characters,” Tess Pitcher, a sophomore at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) said. “But they can’t fully connect with the people because they are so messed up; that is what makes it fun to watch. With everything going on in the world, it is nice to watch people that have a worse life than us.”

Although these characters are hard to love, the show almost dares viewers to care deeply about them. Due to intense scenes that force the viewer to face the reality of what mental degeneration truly looks like, the show’s attempts to be edgy occasionally make the viewer feel a pit in their stomach. The viewer is constantly fighting with frustration and sympathy for the characters and the situations they find themselves in.

“Gen Z connects with characters because the show talks about mental health,” OLLU Sophomore Ijayla Criswell said. “The show makes drugs an aesthetic that society already presents to them, which Gen Z loves.”

The reality is: that these are all real issues that Gen Z teens face today.

These increased pressures are most evident in the latest episodes, which unfold with a grim, unpleasant efficiency that can make the viewer feel as numb as Rue.

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If you or a loved one needs help for drug addiction or a substance use disorder, know that help is available. On the HBO website, Euphoria fans can find several resources for addiction and mental health support, including a crisis text line and links to support groups, health clinics, and suicide prevention organizations.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Texas Youth Helpline: 845-839-2500


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