Surely I can’t be the only one confused about why Euphoria is set in high school? The chaos during the season two premiere only amplified my confusion. I love the show, don’t get it twisted. I’ve also been counting down the days since the first season concluded on Aug. 4, 2019, and those HBO-gifted special episodes that aired in December 2020 and January 2021. I keep wondering if I’m some out-of-touch millennial (cusping Gen Z, BTW), because I genuinely don’t understand. I’m not naive to the reality that teens in high school are much more mature now than people 18 and above believe. But in my opinion, it’s not realistic.
I’m not naive to the reality that teens in high school are much more mature than people 18 and above believe.
I went to a high school with over 2,000 students in an upstate New York suburb. I wasn’t the most popular person in the world, but I saw a lot due to the sheer volume. People in high school were having sex, drinking underage, doing drugs, skipping school, in cliques that dictated their lives, and struggling — but not to the magnitude that’s depicted on Euphoria. Where are these kids’ parents? None of them are concerned? Do the kids in Euphoria have jobs? How are they affording all these drugs? Is heroin the new baseline drug instead of weed? How are they getting homework done? Are they passing their classes? Does the school have a dress code? How do they have the level of wardrobe that they do at 16 and 17 years old? Are they having safe sex? Does anyone have a “regular” life with basic hobbies, like playing lacrosse or having an affinity for economics? Do they have backpacks and school supplies? Why is nobody making noise complaints about the bangers in these suburban neighborhoods? Why are they inviting college students to their parties when they could go to a college party?
My high school experience is by no means the standard. Living in New York City now, I’ve come to realize Euphoria‘s drama is very realistic to some people’s high school experience. Shows like DeGrassi, 90210, and Skins were probably influential in writing Euphoria — after all, before executive producer Drake was a rapper, he was Degrassi‘s Jimmy Brooks. The key difference between all those teen dramas and the HBO one is that there were moral pillars in the form of other students or parents who were more involved, regardless of if their child would listen or not. At minimum, one teen should have their life together.
What does make sense about Euphoria being in high school are mostly the triggering plot lines, such as the sexual assault of a minor between Cal (Eric Dane) and Jules (Hunter Schaefer), the obsession with underage drinking, the rash decision making, and Nate (Jacob Elordi) blackmailing Jules with the threat of leaking her underage movies. These all could have been tweaked to fit college.
And despite their GPAs, I really hope the students of East Highland graduate and go to the same local college so the show can be a bit more relatable. Everything depicted on Euphoria is something I’ve seen in college. It might even be a bit more interesting with the threat of getting arrested as an adult, the possibility of being kicked out of school, struggling to pay rent, navigating sobriety without parental support, going to the same clubs everyone goes to as soon as you get a fake ID, Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) most likely joining Greek life, Kat (Barbie Ferreira) becoming an IRL dominatrix, and more. It would just be so much better.