Bombarded by tweets and Instagram memes, it’s hard not to follow what’s happening on Euphoria. When the show started back in 2019, I was keen to watch it due to the cast and the fashion. Halfway through the first episode, I had to turn it off due to the anxiety it was causing me. It made me feel dirty and uncomfortable. Out of my comfort zone. Honestly, it made me feel sick to my stomach.
The 2020 version of Skins, Euphoria deals with some intensely difficult themes, such as drug abuse, sexual violence, assault, and emotional manipulation.
It makes me feel uncomfortable, watching people self-sabotage or make terrible decisions knowing you can’t do anything about it. Why would you want to watch someone in pain, or going through trauma? Life is traumatic enough as it is with our own problems. Why are we putting ourselves though the stress of watching someone else’s trauma – someone who and whose problems don’t even exist? What is the benefit of that?
Fair enough if you enjoy the show, and when you turn off the television it leaves your mind and you continue on with your day. Unfortunately for me, I carry these things with me and struggle to put them down. It affects me greatly. Why should I make myself upset over something that is meant for my entertainment, and has no actual basis for my life?
Sure, it has basis on real life, which is what makes it compelling – like true crime shows – but I’m sure for those who do deal with drug addiction, they wouldn’t wish it on anyone, so why do we feel like we have to live through it?
Growing up, I watched Skins and got away with it. Perhaps because it felt so “other”. It didn’t even closely resemble my life or what I think the world looked like. It hadn’t even occurred to me that people actually took drugs yet, or suffered from domestic abuse – I didn’t read the news. It seemed so far away from what I thought reality was that I suppose it didn’t bother me. I didn’t deal with the constant bombardment of pain and suffering every day for the sake of keeping up with what’s going on in the world. It didn’t occur to me that families had to deal with teen drug addictions – it was so removed from my life that it seemed like a genuine story.
I am currently obsessed with Law & Order SVU, which although also deals with tough themes, perhaps the difference is that I am not the subject. I always used to say that my intense love of reading helps me live different lives and walk in different shoes, so I suppose that would translate to TV shows where I would put myself as the main character. With SVU, the main characters are the SVU task force who help other characters recover from their trauma and catch the bad guy, so in a way I’m removed (lol, saviour complex much?) With Euphoria, the main characters are the ones suffering from the trauma, and I adopt it.
The thing is, these are real world issues, that millions of people suffer from. Who need your compassion, and sometimes your help. The thing is, I can’t handle dealing with that fact that real people are out there suffering, and then go home to watch that same suffering for entertainment. I’m worried about the environment, I’m worried about women not being paid enough, I’m worried about the wellbeing of refugees, I’m worried about human trafficking – I do not physically have room in my heart to worry about Rue’s fictitious journey, even if it has been mirrored in real life by women before her and will be mirrored by women after her. With all the things in the world to worry about, I do not have the capacity to watch Rue’s downward spiral.
Watching it as entertainment is just too much for me, and that’s why I’ve made a conscious decision to refrain from watching Euphoria – regardless of how much I love Hunter Schafer and her eyeliner.
Be careful with what media you consume. Be careful with what you put in your head. We grew up when the internet was a lawless place, and a lot of us joke about watching a terror group beheading video growing up. But how has that affected us? Was it really beneficial to be watching content like that? Sure, it teaches us about the world and what’s going on in it – but these are real people. With all the violence and strife that we are bombarded with every day, we have no choice but to dissociate from it. To make it not seem real, like a movie – or a TV show. But it is real, and it makes an impact, no matter if you have no problem watching it or not.
I think Euphoria is a fantastic show for those who enjoy it – you can tell by the fans admiration for it. It champions transgender actors and all body types. It discusses real world issues which can be enlightening for those who are new to the themes. The acting is fantastic, from all the actors (and the fashion is amazing, I wish I could watch it just for that) – but my mental health isn’t worth the decline just so I can watch some Emmy Award-winning TV. I have bigger world issues to worry about than wasting some of my compassion capacity on what is, at the end of the day, a TV show.
Not gonna lie, I love Zendaya and Sydney Sweeney, but I’m just fine sitting here watching The Office reruns, where the most traumatic moment is watching Kevin drop his whole pot of famous home-made chilli.