ATX TV Festival: EUPHORIA Paints A Sobering Portrait Of Modern Teens

The upcoming HBO high school drama looks great.

I remember being a teenager in the '90s as a pretty chill time. There was flannel and music and a couple of wine coolers surreptitiously obtained from our parents when they weren’t looking. Apparently, with the internet and social media and just generally growing up too fast these days, the teens in Euphoria are having a very different experience.

Ru, or Ruth, played by Spider-Man's very own MJ, Zendaya, was born three days after 9/11. (I was already in college, so yikes.) Pretty early on in her youth, her parents noticed that she was a little different. Taken to doctors, she is diagnosed with depression and possible bipolar behavior. As she ages to present day, she dives deeper into drugs to cope, until her sister finds her after an overdose and her mother (now a single mother after her father took off) sends her to rehab. The story picks up after Ru gets out of rehab with no intention whatsoever of staying clean. The rest of the show follows her and her friends, both old and new, and some pretty menacing enemies as they navigate their burgeoning sexuality, their shocking propensity for violence and their own demons and addictions.

Originally an Israeli series, HBO acquired Euphoria for American production and executive producer Drake laid the task of bringing this story to life on the shoulders of Sam Levinson. Levinson, who also brought us Assassination Nation deftly avoids glamorizing the sex and addiction going on with these teens. After the screening, I kind of wanted to offer most of the cast a glass of water and a safe ride home. Having only seen the pilot, I can’t tell you what fate befalls most of them, but I can tell you it’s not going to be a smooth ride for, well, any of them. If you’re looking for a shiny and fun, glitzy romp through dances and proms and football players with hearts of gold, this ain’t for you. If you are wanting to take a deep dive into the dark world of drugs with your rose colored glasses firmly on the shelf, put on your helmet and take a ride with Euphoria.