How Euphoria Impacts the Mental State of the Audience

How Euphoria Impacts the Mental State of the Audience

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How Euphoria Impacts the Mental State of the Audience

Sam Levinson created Euphoria for HBO and airs as a TV series created by Sam Levinson, although directed by different directors. The American teen drama features Rue Bennett as the main character and revolves around this teenager who struggles with mental complications and drug addiction. The TV series that premiered on June 16, 2019, shows how Rue tries to secure her position in the world, as well as tells the story of a group of high school learners through their encounters with sex, relationship, love, misuse of drugs, and trauma (Levinson 2019). Despite escalating criticism that the portrayals in the film are inappropriate, Euphoria has increasingly become popular, especially among younger viewers, because it reflects the tribulations that millions of young people undergo, not only in the U.S. but also in other nations. The supporters think that the production is candid in its presentation, making it more fitting in the current context where so many things affect young people, yet no one dares to speak to them as they are. Consequently, this analysis examines how TV series impact the mental state of their audiences. The film reiterates that peer pressure or influence from people and components around them can impact people significantly and determine how they relate with others. In addition, because of the romanticized scenes in the TV show, the audience’s mental state is likely inclined towards love and intimacy, with critical viewers learning the need to be cautious when indulging in intimate relationships. The essay argues that watching Euphoria impacts significantly on the audience’s mental state because, while exposing them to inappropriate acts such as explicit sexual content and drug abuse, it also enlightens them to be wary regarding these destructive acts that put many young people at considerable risk. 

Peer Pressure

The influence of peer pressure, as depicted in the film, significantly impacts the audience’s mental state. In the story, viewers primarily follow the lives of various troubled American youngsters led by Rue, who is only 17 years old and is already battling addiction. The group is driven by peer pressure, a crucial concern underlying teenage and youthful experiences. Peer pressure is the chief cause of drug addiction and unregulated sexual behavior that viewers see in the film. In the show, Rue constantly hangs out with Lexi, with whom they have grown together since childhood, Fezco, who peddles drugs locally, and Jules, a transgender girl who forms an intimate relationship with Rue (Levinson 2019). Together, the group parties using drugs and indulge in unregulated sexual behavior without considering the consequences. Together, all these show how peer influence get people into undesirable acts without their liking, and increases their possibilities of becoming victims of circumstance.

The peer pressure witnessed in the film impacts the audience’s mental state in two ways – that whereas peer influence may come with a lot of fun, it also has considerable adverse effects, as it turns out in the TV series. The friends who spend much time together have fun, drink alcohol, and abuse drugs, which according to them, is enjoyable. Such incidences elate the viewers’ mental state and make them empathetic with the characters. However, an apparent influence of the films on viewers is that it leads them to think of peer pressure as bad in the way it leads the youngsters astray. In the case of Rue, she finds it challenging to quit abusing drugs, an addiction that started as a young child but was accelerated by her companions. The effects of peer pressure, as witnessed in the film, impact the audience’s mental state that negative peer pressure can affect mental wellbeing and diminish self-confidence. The leading character, for instance, loses confidence in herself and becomes increasingly detached once drug dependence starts to take effect. Furthermore, viewers get the mental impression that negative peer pressure can escalate anxiety and depression. As Izadinia et al. (2010, p. 1516) put it, it can trigger suicidal thoughts and self-harm if not addressed in good time. Consequently, watching Euphoria develops a mental impression in viewers that peer pressure can be fun but dangerous at the same time if not mitigated in good time. 

Social Media

The same applies to how viewers perceive the use of social media in the show. A distinctive feature of Euphoria is how it depicts the influence of social media on the leading characters, mainly teenagers. Nate, an 11-year-old boy, is already fond of social media like Rue and Jules, who spend much time on Tik Tok socializing with friends and sharing sensitive issues (Levinson 2019). Indulgence in social media platforms takes much time and deters them from concentrating on ideas other than drug use and sex. It is also on such platforms that the teenagers share explicit images that aggravate the desire to indulge in inappropriate sexual behavior. The illustration impacts the audience’s mental state because they view social media as an avenue of communication and a destructive tool when young people use it without restriction. The audience perceives social media as a platform that can affect one’s mental health because, in many instances, when people look on their platform and notice that they are omitted from an activity, it can disturb feelings and thoughts and harm the physically. More viewers are likely to have similar mental perceptions regarding social media because a 2017 study by Walton related that social media use reduced, interrupted, and hindered sleep, which is associated with unimpressive academic performance, memory loss, and depression. All these adverse effects are evident in the characters who spend much time using social media in TV series. 

The use of social media in the show further impacts the audience’s mental state. Viewers perceive the digital form of communication as being addictive. Even though specialists have not agreed on whether social media addiction happens or not, there is convincing proof that the habit may exist. As a result, affected individuals may avoid other crucial activities and focus on their favorite platform. Besides, the audience of Euphoria gains the impression that comparing one’s life with others is mentally harmful. They learn that part of the reason social media makes people feel isolated, as is the case of Rue is the idea that people compare themselves with others worsens the issue. In the film, various characters are fond of Instagram and want to dress as they see on the social media platforms. It is such unnecessary competition that make viewers think that social media has much influence on the casts in the TV program.

Drug Use

The audience’s mental state is impacted significantly by the use of drugs by the teenagers who feature prominently in the TV series. Based on the rampant abuse of drugs in the show, viewers’ mental state feels that the production is too graphic and provoking for young viewers. Whereas the show is thought-provoking, honest, and a portrayal of teens’ encounters today with substance use and abuse, the performance impacts the audience’s mental state in the way viewers regard it as expressing the adversities of using or abusing drugs. The show begins with Rue getting out of Rehab after getting into drugs as a young child due to her easy access to opioids that his father uses to manage his cancer (Levinson 2019). She continues to use drugs as a way of getting away from the harmful thoughts caused by her mental disorder (Levinson 2019). The filmmaker’s intention with Rue’s nature is to create more sensitization and empathy concerning challenging issues such as mental health and substance. The story impacts the audience’s mental state because viewers conceptualize the stress and pain associated with substance abuse and try to visualize how the constant urge to utilize drugs regardless of the pain as evidently portrayed in the show. Euphoria conditions viewers’ mental state to consider addiction an illness of the brain. The audience gets the impression in their mind that drugs take away a person’s capacity to make rational choices, regulate impulses, and think about long-term effects. Moreover, viewers perceive drugs as altering the brain’s chemical composition, especially in teenagers whose brains are still in the development phase. 

Watching the program and how some characters indulge in substance abuse further impacts the audience’s mental state. It rings in the mind of those who watch the film that the lack of stringent rules and directives and what appears to be a change in perception towards drugs compel the young people to embrace the harmful practice. Despite being a scripted show, viewers get the impression that teenagers would not abuse drugs as it appears in Euphoria if regulations barring them from taking hallucinogens was strict. Besides, watching how the young tucks abuse drugs, it rings in the viewers’ minds that they may not be viewing the substances as destructive. They seem to find it enjoyable and do not have any plans to quit. Overall, the audience develops the mentality that stricter regulations must be placed in addition to acknowledging that the lifestyle can have profound effects, as happens to Rue when the story starts. 

Influence on External Environment

Watching the TV series, the audience’s mental state focuses on how the external environment influences the characters’ actions and practices. One is likely to think that because the teenagers watch shows that reflect and heighten their behavior, they engage in provoking acts more freely and tend to imitate what they see on TV (Levinson 2019). In addition, viewers are inclined to believe that what the characters see their friends do and how they practice significantly influence their behavior and thoughts. Consequently, the show triggers viewers to perceive factors in the external environment as being crucial in determining how characters act and relate to each other. People, especially those who cannot make tough decisions, would often want to emulate others and may be easily influenced by what they see in their surroundings. In the show, where technology plays an integral, the audience’s mental state is greatly influenced by how the Internet allows the youngsters to access information and communicate in a way that facilitates their meetings and organizations. The audience is compelled to believe that the youngsters’ families significantly impact their behavior. Their parents do not enact strict measures against particular actions that seem to be destructive apart from being past their age. Viewers think that the parents need to be more watchful over their kids and be strict to deter them from acting in ways that would lead them to problems.  

The influence of the external environment as perceived by audiences in their mental state reflects the findings of various scholars who believe that multiple factors in the outside environment determine how people react and see things. Bohm and Pfister (2015) inform that people are likely to do what they see others doing, significantly if it will benefit them in one way or the other. For instance, one is expected to get into drugs upon realizing that their friends or a considerable number of people in the community or neighborhood use a particular substance. Whereas emulating specific thoughts or actions as acquired from the environment could be beneficial, the audience’s mental state is impacted by the film because they get to understand that some of the developed features could be harmful and likely to lead one astray or result in regrets. Based on what happens in Euphoria, it is apparent that younger people are likely to acquire inappropriate effects from the environment in scenarios where proper guidance is lacking. Thus, adult viewers develop the urge in their minds to offer appropriate advice to teenagers who may still not know how to interact with the various elements in the environment. Besides, adult viewers gain the impression that avoiding or disregarding environmental factors could have profound implications when teenagers acquire undesirable conduct and it is too late to mitigate the situation. 

Makeup Looks and Outfit

The youngsters in Euphoria are fond of makeup to enhance their look and also wear scanty clothing to enhance their faces, but this significantly impacts the audience’s mental state. Based on this illustration, the mental perception that viewers develop is that because the characters are young and have a constant urge to make friends, they have to enhance their looks to appear more enticing and attractive. Donni Davy, who is responsible for makeup in the TV series, admits that the urge to enhance beauty through makeup and clothing went a notch higher in Season 2 after the use of such beauty-enhancing features attracted the attention of many viewers in Season 1 and contributed significantly towards the fame the production enjoyed across the country (Cacciatore 2022). As a result, makeup, including eye shadow, face primer, powder, eyelash glue, concealer, and bronzer that enhances skin color by adding bronze or golden glow feature prominently Euphoria. Thus, it is possible to determine how the inclusion impacts the audience’s mental state regarding the need to enhance the characters’ appearance. 

In addition, the audience feels that the story maker incorporates makeup and certain styles of dressing to emphasize the lifestyle that the casts lead. Being highly friendly and outgoing, as happens with many teenagers nowadays, those who feature prominently in the production have to appear trendy to reflect their thoughts, behaviors, and practices. In this manner, based on the audience’s mental view, it is easy to show viewers the behavior that those involved are likely to display without many illustrations. In addition, the excessive use of makeup and the attempt to dress in a particular manner creates a mental impression in those who watch the show that being a modern TV show, it is essential to incorporate features that reflect the same. The feature is common in many other contemporary films where filmmakers focus on aspects that would give or add a modern touch to their work to attract more viewers and show a reflection of what currently happens in society, locally and internationally. Therefore, the intentional inclusion of makeup and dressing the casts in particular ways that some people can be termed as foul play imperative functions in relaying the message and influencing the audience’s mental state.  

Furthermore, using makeup develops a mental perception in viewers that people are free to do what they think is appropriate for them in the increasingly liberal world. The audience gets to believe that everyone who is part of society has the choice and freedom to conduct themselves following their will and desire without influence or coercion. The freedom of individuals is deemed essential because human beings enjoy sovereignty as a natural need. Watching the show and noticing the glaring makeup reiterate the idea in viewers’ minds that the liberty people want produces considerable freedom that allows everyone to be themselves. However, it is only possible to understand the filmmaker’s intention in using makeup and allowing characters to dress in a particular manner by taking a critical view of the series rather than treating the aspect as mere presentation.

Depiction of Different Meanings and Impressions by Different Characters

A significant way in which the story impacts the audience’s mental state is the way viewers get to believe or think that the different characters seek to give a unique message or impression depending on their actions and how they relate to others. Through Rue, for instance, the audience sees that it is possible to overcome drug use through practical guidelines and careful monitoring. Eventually, in the film, Rue becomes sober and stays that way for a significant part of Season 1. So much of what contributes to Rue’s change in behavior can be linked to her relationship with Jules and the idea that Ali stands by her, thus protecting her from indulging in actions that she could regret (Levinson 2019). However, Rue’s drug relapse impacts the audience’s mental state that quitting substance abuse and dependence is not easy and requires a lot of support to get over the problematic behavior. In the case of Fezco, who peddles drugs in the neighborhood, the mental impression viewers get about him is that the need to earn an income could push one to inappropriate acts, some of which are unlawful. The actions by Fezco follow the argument in the strain theory of crime, which implies that pressure and stressors acquired from social factors, such as the absence of quality education or lack of income, could lead one to indulge in crime (Jang & Agnew 2015, p. 496). In the case of Kat Hernandez, a young girl who sometimes associates with Rue, viewers get the mental impression that as a teenage girl, one is likely to be preoccupied with exploring sexuality and nurturing body positivity. Looking at all other characters and paying considerable attention to their relations with other create a particular mental perception in viewers that help to understand what they stand for or represent in the story. 

Subdued Mental State

The mental state of many viewers becomes subdued upon watching Euphoria. The happenings in the show, especially the way young people indulge in irresponsible sexual behavior and abuse drugs, make the audience feel down and sorry for the worst-hit individual. Those watching the film are even tempted to question their wellbeing and mental state to find out whether they may give in to peer pressure as it happens in Euphoria. Viewers are also drawn to assess themselves and determine whether they can overcome addiction and make rational decisions. However, the film’s approach and how it impacts viewers’ mental states effectively delivers the message through pathos appeal, which focuses on appealing to the audience’s emotions (Higgins & Walker 2012, p. 198). Using the rhetoric appeal technique makes it easier for the film’s maker to condition the audience to feel the way he wants. In making the characters appear like they are abusing drugs, dressing inappropriately, and indulging in unwise sexual conduct, the filmmaker acts deliberately with the primary goal of triggering certain emotions. Other than feeling depressed due to the show’s use of pathos, logos and ethos also contribute significantly towards impacting the audience’s mental state. According to Ting (2018, p. 238), Logos entails making illustrations or presentations using data and facts or common sense. Ethos, however, focuses on urging the audience to believe in what the speaker or conveyer of the message says. For instance, the series developer deploys logos by presenting correctly how peer pressure and substance abuse affect people. 

Gender and Sexuality

Euphoria has many scenes depicting sexuality, which significantly impact the audience’s mental state. Viewers develop the impression that the series brings the 21st-century concepts of gender and sexuality to the limelight, bringing the ideals of generation z to what is deemed high-brow TV (Fritzler n.a.). The mental perception viewers get is that the show tries to argue that the ideas of women on their gender and sexuality should not only focus on the approval of males and females but instead on the concepts of their sexuality and gender identity. The show creates the view in the audience’s mind that womanhood is not biological and not entirely practical from a sociological viewpoint. Instead, it is what one wants it to be. In addition, the production impact viewers’ perception in the way they perceive female sexuality as a form that one enjoys and actively takes part in or is not primarily essential (Fritzler n.a.). In addition, the audience sees that the series permits casts to each encounter individualized encounters with sexual activity, but with an overarching idea present in all of them. An excellent example from the film to illustrate this is where Kat becomes sexually liberal and also improves on her looks after a video sex tape featuring her leaks on the Internet. On the other hand, an example from the program that confirms the production deploys a refined form of gender performativity theory formed by Judith Butler, which asserts that gender is performative. Still, the performance does not rely on gender norms and standards set by the society; instead, an individual’s perception of their gender is Jules’ ideas on gender (Fritzler n.a.). She believes that if she overcame men, she could also overcome femininity. Consequently, the audience, in their view, thinks that it is the reason why she involves herself in numerous violent acts and forms hookups with cisgender men. Thus, the film serves a critical role in influencing the viewers’ mental state concerning gender and sexuality. 

Moral of the Story

The way the story impacts the audience’s mental state regarding the various issues has moral issues that may help to avoid some of the mistakes that occur in the production. The audience sees the need to be careful about the people they associate with and how their interactions impact their behaviors and practices. A fundamental lesson in this instance is the need to be cautious, especially when peers seem to be acting in a way that could lead one astray, as in Euphoria. It is imperative to be bold and avoid influencers who only appear to care for the immediate time without caring for future results. Another fundamental feature that portrays the value of the story is that it sensitizes the dangers of irresponsible drug use. At the same time, by covering these critical issues, the TV drama promotes engagement among adults and teens. The article by Turnbridge (2021) refers to a confession by Yalda Uhls, a former renowned film executive, who now focuses on media influences the conduct of teenagers and adolescents, that watching Euphoria with her daughter (19 years old) has encouraged candid talks between them, they would not have occurred without watching the show. Hence, parents should take advantage of this opportunity to depict the positive side of the TV series and help their children understand how to conduct themselves, particularly when in the company of others. Parents should not shy away from the issue because the silence has led many young people into irresponsible acts that expose them to numerous fatal implications. Therefore, the audience should pick lessons that influence their mental state and work on implementing their perception in real life. 

Filmmakers can also learn valuable lessons from Euphoria. They see the need to present ideas as they are rather than beating about the bush, an approach that has derailed the attempt to address some of the social problems. On his part, Sam Levinson comes out frankly in Euphoria, a strategy that has earned the show praises and criticism in equal measure. However, other film developers learn that when they present specific ideas that others are afraid of or shy away from giving the impression of, they stand a chance of not only impacting their audiences through the unique portrayals but also present the opportunity to come up with candid ways of dealing with issues that affect people. Thus, film producers who aim to highlight the specific problems should not restrict themselves to conventional techniques that may not be as impactful on viewers. 


The happenings in the TV series impact viewers’ mental states in many ways. The audience gets to view peer pressure as an act that fosters socialization but can have adverse implications on socializing groups if no regulations define how they relate to each other. In the series, Rue and her friends enter into unregulated sexual behavior, drugs, and other irresponsible acts due to peer pressure. The reckless indulgence affirms that peer pressure is real, and the audience’s mental state focuses on the need to be careful about how people choose friends and whom they relate with to avoid being victims, as happens to Rue and her peers. In addition, the paper illustrates how viewers’ mental state is impacted by the portrayal of drug use that is rampant in the story. Audience’s mental state perceives this as a way of warning young people against indulging in drugs despite coming out so boldly to present the message. In addition, the series’ happenings impact the audience’s mental state regarding the influence of the external environment on the characters, who appear to be primarily influenced by what others do and see. The story compels the audience to believe that the various TV shows that the teenagers watch, the life of friends, and the Internet determine how the teenagers act and relate to each other. In addition, the review reveals how the show impacts the audience’s mental state regarding sexuality and gender. Viewers are inclined to believe that the characters have their perceptions regarding their sexuality and gender, which determine how they relate to members of the same or opposite sex. The analysis emphasizes the need to borrow valuable lessons from the series and transform mental perceptions into actions. Parents can seize the opportunity and help their children understand the moral lessons in the production that has caught the attention of many viewers. However, terming the film as being explicit and avoiding it may create a situation where young people indulge in destructive acts, yet no one speaks about it. 

Reference List

Bohm, G, & Pfister, H 2015, ‘How people can explain their own and others’ behavior: A theory of lay explanations’, Frontiers in Psychology, 6, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00139

Cacciatore, B 2022, All the hidden meanings you missed in Euphoria’s makeup. Available at: < > [June 10, 2022]

Fritzler, S n.a., Euphoria and the spectrum of gender and sexuality. Available at: < > [June 10, 2022]

Higgins, C, & Walker, R 2012, ‘Ethos, logos, pathos: Strategies of persuasion in social/environmental reports’, Accounting Forum, vol. 36, pp. 194-208.

Izadinia, N, Amiri, M, Jahromi, R, Hamidi, S 2010, ‘A study of relationship between suicidal ideas, depression, anxiety, resiliency, daily stresses and mental health among Tehran university students’, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 5, 1515–1519.

Jang, S, & Agnew, R 2015, ‘Strain theory and crime’, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, vol. 23, pp. 495-500.

Levinson, S 2019, Euphoria, USA: HBO.

Ting, S 2018, ‘Ethos, logos and pathos in university students’ informal requests’, GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 234-251.

Turnbridge 2021, HBO’s new series “Euphoria” tackles teen drug abuse, addiction, and mental health. Available at: < teen-addiction-mental-health/#> [June 8, 2022]

Walton, A 2017, 6 ways social media affects our mental health. Available at: < > [June 8, 2022]

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