Zendaya plays Rue in "Euphoria." (HBO)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: We shouldn’t gatekeep ‘Euphoria’

Euphoria is an HBO original drama that focuses on the struggles of a group of high schoolers in suburbia.

Euphoria premiered in early June of last year, so why is it trending now?

Well, as with almost everything nowadays, a group of teens on TikTok talked about the show again, and posted one of three types of contrasting videos.

The first type of video was people talking about the Euphoria themed parties they’ve thrown, their Euphoria inspired makeup, photoshoots, and so on.

Another portion of the videos are created directly in opposition to those videos, saying things along the lines of “why is everyone talking about how they want to be in ‘Euphoria?’ Did we not watch the same show?” and essentially bashing the people who are turning the show into an aesthetic.

Then, there is a third subtopic — discussing how we shouldn’t bash those who have turned Euphoria into their aesthetic or gatekeep the show in general, as it’s a popular TV show that doesn’t belong to any specific group.

So, which is the correct view, should be gatekeeping Euphoria, and only allowing people who “understand” the true meaning to talk about and love the show? Or should we understand that its an Emmy nominated popular TV show, and gatekeeping the show is just harmful and pretentious?

To answer that question, we need to understand more about the show.

In “Euphoria,” there’s a collection of main and side characters that each represent different backstories and struggles. All of the characters represent different mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and OCD. But on a more focused level, Rue (Zendaya) struggles with addiction.

Jules (Hunter Schafer) represents life as a young trans woman. Nate (Jacob Elordi) and Maddy (Alexa Demie) represent an abusive relationship. Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) represents the “daddy issues” trope but in a much more raw and non-glamorized way.

Kat (Barbie Ferreira) represents body image struggles. McKay (Algee Smith) represents living with a demanding father who has too high expectations and a need for excellence. And those are just the characters that we got a cold open detailing their backstory for.

There are also clear layers in all of the supporting characters — some fan favorites are Rue’s drug dealer Fezco (Angus Cloud) and Lexi (Maude Apatow), a member of the core friend group.

Essentially, all of the “Euphoria” characters are relatable to high schoolers in this day and age, because they don’t have the “perfect” life TV shows have made it feel like high school students should have. “Euphoria” is real and raw and depicts characters that feel like they could be sitting next to you in homeroom next Monday morning.

Something that is also notable is that the creator of the show wanted “Euphoria” to be filmed in a way that accurately showcased the way teens see themselves, which I also think is very important. This provides some reasoning to the strange and harsh lighting, eccentric outfits, and other seemingly strange choices the crew may have made.

The makeup is also a popular and important aspect of the show. What has been tagged as “Euphoria” makeup is often described as a “cultural reset” in the makeup community of Gen Z. But beyond the glitter eyeliner and funky eyeshadow, the makeup on “Euphoria” tells a very important story. You can read about that in Cosmopolitan.

All the writers of “Euphoria” were very careful to not romanticize any of the struggles the characters were going through. After watching “Euphoria,” viewers aren’t going to want depression or drug addiction or abusive relationships, but rather are going to see their real effects. People that do struggle with the issues depicted in the show are going to feel accurately represented, and feel like they have2 a character they can relate to.

So, at the end of the day, we shouldn’t gatekeep “Euphoria.” It’s a show for everyone to watch and enjoy. But, viewers also must understand what the show is doing, and can’t pass it off as just another teen drama that has a cool makeup department.