Review: The Kids Are Not All Right

By Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News
Zendaya stars in the HBO drama series "Euphoria."

There's often a fine line between revealing the tawdry and reveling in the tawdry.

“Euphoria” doesn't care about that line. This show rolls around in the modern muck of teenage life with no seeming regard for taste and has no problem exploiting ugly turns for dramatic and sometimes comic effect.

As a TV show it's eminently watchable, assuming you're not thrown by the constant barrage of sex, drugs, internet abuse and outrageous behavior – which, by the way, test even the limits of HBO. Never have so many near-teens showed so much skin in the name of premium cable.

The show revolves around Rue (Zendaya), just coming home from rehab after a near-fatal overdose. Rue soon becomes best friends with Jules (Hunter Schafer in an impressive debut), a trans girl new to the suburban neighborhood (the general acceptance at school of Jules is a telling touch).

Like many HBO dramas this one has a cast of seeming thousands – a pair of sex doll sisters, some jocks, dysfunctional parents, a heavyset girl with body issues, a drug dealer and his young assistant -- who will assumedly come into focus as things progress.

What it doesn't have much of is normalcy; pretty much everyone has some major issue going on. One old friend of Rue's (Maude Apatow) seems to be the exception, but she gets overwhelmed by the rest. Dramatically this lacks contrast but it's nothing a quick genitalia pic won't solve.

At heart “Euphoria” is addictive rubberneck TV that won't let you look away from the car wreck of today's youth. “What's the matter with kids today?” is a cliche but these teens have so much to work with it makes you wonder what previous generations were worried about. 



10 p.m. Sunday