People say youth is wasted on the young, and it certainly seems that way in this compelling but ugly series in which teens exist in hells often of their own making. Damaged by her father's early death, the casual cruelty she sees around her, and her own (labeled by an expert) faulty brain chemistry, Rue snorts, smokes, and drinks everything she can get her hands on. Her terrified mom tries sending her to rehab, and she tries giving Rue over-the-counter drug tests, which her daughter foils by racing across town to procure her former best friend's fresh, clean urine. And yet Rue's one of the characters who's (mostly) just abusing herself; the treatment from others handed to Jules, Kat, and Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) is far worse.
Both the camera and these girls' peers leer at them endlessly, evaluating them from a distance. How do they look? Are they hot? More importantly, what will they do sexually? Sex becomes something the boys try to trick or shame the girls into, and when Cassie genuinely responds to Chris at a party, his response is to pin her down and choke her, as he's seen in porn. He thought she would like it. Kat definitely does not like the boys who surreptitiously filmed her losing her virginity at a party and posted it on a "slut page" for the whole school to laugh at. And as we soon learn, the boys who treat their classmates and neighbors so terribly are themselves abused, by parents who don't care, by parents who aren't there, by parents who themselves do terrible things. Some characters get more of a redemptive arc than others, but most just struggle, fail, and struggle again. It's a miserable cycle, and though Euphoria is hard to watch, it's equally hard to stop.