HBO

HBO’s first-ever teen drama Euphoria premiered last night and, by the sounds of the reviews so far, it’s as shocking and explicit as we expected.

The hype train for the Drake-produced, Zendaya-starring series has been building for some time now, not only because of their involvement but because of the wild manner in which the show was said to address real teen life.

The critical reaction so far has been pretty varied. Some are hailing the show as affecting and “lit,” while others say it’s so over-the-top it verges on boring.

Find a round-up of the critic’s reactions to HBO’s Euphoria below.

Zendaya is amazing

“There is a haunting, painful, and personal story at the center of Euphoria, as well as a haunting, painful, and affecting performance from its star, Zendaya… Zendaya is exceptional at every turn.”

Ben Travers / IndieWire

The soundtrack is great

“Lusciously shot, Euphoria gets more and more jaw-dropping and gorgeous as it goes on, with an accompanying lit soundtrack (do the kids still say lit?) no doubt influenced by Drake, one of Euphoria‘s executive producers… For all its clutch-the-pearls content and narrative twists, Euphoria tracks its characters’ coming-of-age with honesty.”

Malcolm Venable / TV Guide

Not great TV, but who cares?

Euphoria is everything a teenager might want in a TV show: an extreme depiction of teens who are worse off than one’s self. A psychopathic jock with anger and daddy issues; a girl tempted to sell herself online; teenagers debasing themselves to impress others, preoccupied with mutual ruin… Alluring yes, but far from great television. I suspect approval is the last thing Euphoria hopes to find.”

Hank Stuever / The Washington Post

It’s a bit try-hard

“It’s a gorgeous, empty thing that mistakes external beauty for inner depth… There’s an unnerving sense throughout Euphoria that this is a kaleidoscope into modern teen life framed by and packaged for older viewers who become voyeurs of these teens. Look how much they swear, they have sex, they get high, the show practically screams over and over and over. It doesn’t feel edgy so much as a razor’s edge indiscriminately slicing through the air, targetless and wild.”

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya / AV Club

Euphoria, HBO’s nihilistic drama about the terrifying life of contemporary adolescents, is a panicked teen trend piece turned up to “It’s so much worse than you think!!!””

Willa Paskin / Slate

It lacks depth

Euphoria wants to be honest and cool AF with character arcs built around its taboos, but while it has plenty of inspired visuals, those values don’t make for durable storytelling once you get to know the show at its core.”

Nick Allen / Roger Ebert

“There is certainly something engaging about Euphoria; maybe it’s akin to the idea of watching a car crash as you witness teenagers fall deeper and deeper into danger. But at the same time, Euphoria toes the risks of running this into the ground — at a certain point, once you’ve built a tolerance, its attempts to titillate and devastate are so overt and frequent that it almost becomes boring. Maybe it can be argued that that’s sort of the point, that for Teens These Days, this is all par for the course; everything that parents fear is nothing more than mundane.”

Pilot Viruet / Observer

But maybe mediocrity is the point

Euphoria is the kind of show that defines success by the volume of the response, not its tone. However measured one strives to be, pointing out its flaws gives the feeling of producing an intended result. After all, the point of lashing out is to get a rise out of the audience, for both the characters of Euphoria and the network betting big on it.”

Alison Herman / The Ringer
Staff Writer
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