Euphoria (Neon, SoHo2)
Do you ever imagine what the life of a teenager must be like in 2019 and start seething with an insane and uncontrollable jealousy?
They get to be online 24/7, instead of having to carefully ration out their parents' 40-hour-a-month Xtra dial-up plan. They have basically every piece of recorded music in history – and quite a lot of movies and TV shows – at their fingertips. They will never know the labour of trawling the shelves at United Video and scouring the $5 bins at Real Groovy every weekend.
The hours they save not having to go through that whole rigmarole seem to instead be spent becoming extremely socially aware, going to the gym and developing a sense of personal style that leaves me and my France 98 football top I wore every day of 7th form in the dust. Honestly, kids these days. They have no idea how good they've got it.
Counter-argument: HBO's new edgy teen drama series Euphoria, a neon-lit smorgasbord of angst, anxiety disorders, drug addiction, body dysmorphia, rape culture, porn culture, dating apps and leaked nudes that makes the modern teen experience seem like the absolute pits of hell.
Adapted from an Israeli drama of the same name, Euphoria centres around 17-year-old Rue (former Disney Channel star Zendaya), a fed-up middle-class suburban teen who's just got out of rehab for drug addiction. She presumably goes to school, though none of the action takes place there. Instead it's all bedrooms, cars, darkened streets and house parties – a post-Breakfast Club world in which all the old cliques and subcultures have joined together as one in the name of getting absolutely out of it on coke.
One network executive memorably pitched the show to The Hollywood Reporter by saying it makes Netflix's controversial teen series 13 Reasons Why "look like an after-school special." (Which one? Be more specific. Do you mean Ghostwriter?) That's probably true, if you measure shows exclusively by the amount of onscreen nudity they contain, which does seem to be exactly how HBO execs think.
But me, well, this is not my first edgy teen drama rodeo. I grew up in the age of Cruel Intentions, The Virgin Suicides, Thirteen. And while I never actually watched Larry Clark's Kids, I got the gist.
None of those movies reflected a single thing about my life experience back to me when I watched them as a teen, but I still thought they were cool. For the majority of modern teens (very few of whom can afford cocaine, especially not the quantities consumed on the show) Euphoria will be the same, continuing a long tradition of edgy teen dramas written by grown-up adult men.
If the show accurately reflects anything about the modern teen experience in its more controversial moments, it's the way in which nothing is off the table, everything is up for discussion. And when we're talking about themes like mental health and sexual consent, that's probably a good thing, don't you think?