Euphoria: The Rebirth of the Shared Television Experience?

Will Rue ever become sober? Will Maddie (insert Alexa Demie’s voice) ‘li-Ke literally’ kill Cassie? Is Sam Levison a creep? The HBO Max high school drama, “Euphoria,” seems to be all anyone is talking about. Recently renewed for a third season, the entertainment company A24’s refreshing take on the high school drama genre has been collecting record views, the season two premiere racking up over 2.4 million views according to Variety

Released over the summer of 2019, the first season of “Euphoria” was archived on the HBO Max streaming service, allowing subscribers to “binge-watch” the series. With the ability to watch in the span of a few days, the first season received quite a buzz on social media but the anticipation does not compare to the current real-life popularity of the second season’s weekly releases. 

WarnerMedia told Variety that the long-awaited first episode of the second season had “the strongest digital premiere night performance for any episode” from the network since the launch of HBO Max last year.

HBO Max revoked our habitual binging abilities, and that may be for the better.  

Marley Reedy ‘24 and Eliza Mathew’s react in anxiety while watching S2 E4 of Euphoria

I think we can all admit we are a little envious of the television experiences our parents experienced. There is something bonding about having to wait a week for a new episode. In a world where algorithms separate us into hyper-niche social media feeds, “Euphoria” puts everyone on the same pop culture calendar. Unless you missed an episode, everyone is on the same page. 

“Euphoria” is of course much darker and more convoluted in subject matter than our parents’ era of popular high school drama. Cassie’s mosaic rendition of the popular blonde girl trope makes cookie-cutter predecessors look cliche and bad boy Jordan Catalano from “My So-Called Life” appears innocent when placed next to the arguably demented Nate Jacobs.

A24 is not necessarily a well-kept indie secret anymore, but they are undeniably known for films on the high-brow independent side, like “Lighthouse” (2019) and “Midsommar” (2017). “Euphoria” stands out amongst other high school dramas as it is a provocative and complex production of a genre normally seen as cheap television. We are in the midst of a potentially rich shared television experience, as our viewing of decent content is synched and people are asking thought-provoking questions about “Euphoria” in casual conversation. We love to see it.