Even in its sweetest, most empowering, or funniest moments, it’s hard to escape the real-life horror of Euphoria. Teens are abusing drugs and alcohol, they’re getting paid in Bitcoin to work as underage cam models, they’re using dating apps to meet up with strangers for sexual encounters, and they’re sending so many nude selfies. The world is a scary place for the teens. And Euphoria perfectly captures the chaos, the confusion, the discovery, the terror of being an extremely online kid in 2019.
Yes, the toxic masculinity, the drug addiction, etc. are all very bad, but there’s one problem that these characters keep encountering that, in the terms of this show, appears to have an easy fix: If you’re underage, never send nude selfies. Never. Not to anyone. Not to your friends. Not to your significant other. Not to yourself. Not to strangers on the internet. Not to acquaintances on the internet or IRL. Not to matches on dating apps. Not to anyone. Ever. At any time. That’s because, as Euphoria has repeatedly shown, if you send nudes, evil people will use them to hurt you and the law might not protect you.
Last week, the show gave a pretty excellent tutorial for how to send acceptable, solicited dick pics. Basically, there’s a fine line between acceptable and terrifying and horrifying—the joke here being that oftentimes your solicited dick pics will turn out to be Very Bad. Which is probably true!
And at every point throughout the first four episodes of this series, whenever someone takes a photo of their naked body, it inevitably comes back to haunt them. These are the unfortunate circumstances of this show—and possibly the real world—where teens are repeatedly punished for exploring their sexuality. That all comes to a breaking point in a really fucked up way in Episode Four.
Jules finally meets with the “Tyler” she’s been messaging on a dating app. She’s fallen for this guy, even though she’s never seen him in real life (only pictures of his dick in messages). But, when she finally meets him, it turns out he’s Nate from her high school—a football hero who is equal parts sociopath, sexually confused, homophobic, and suffering from severe daddy issues. Jules was also raped by Nate’s father after the two met over the dating app, which Nate learned by finding his dad’s filmed video footage of the crime. It’s all an absolutely horrifying mess—specifically Nate whose character is such a cluster of villainous tropes it’s hard to keep track of which one is the worst.
But, that’s a conversation for another day, because in the end, Nate uses the nude photos that Jules sent to “Tyler” to blackmail her into staying silent about his father. He says he collected all the photos she sent and he will turn them over to the police so she can be charged with distributing child pornography.
Jules is rightfully terrified. And, to an extent, what he said is true. As criminaldefenselawyer.com explains:
In some states, especially those that do not have specific sexting laws, anyone who creates, possesses, or distributes nude or explicit photos of a juvenile can be charged with child pornography or related crimes, such as the sexual exploitation of a minor. Child pornography charges can arise whenever a person sends or receives explicit images of a person under the age of 18. But it isn’t just adults who send or receive such images who can be charged with these crimes, and even teens who send pictures of themselves to adults can face child pornography charges.
But the laws aren’t exactly clear, and are currently being explored in real time in the real world. Such is the environment that Euphoria navigates, where teens are thrown into a world created by adults with little to no thought to what technology would wrought for a younger generation. These crimes can vary in their severity and definition depending on the state or situation. And, of course, both Nate and his father have committed seriously heinous crimes throughout this series. But, there is a reason for Jules to be worried, because sexting or sending nudes can be a serious crime when underage, however unfair it seems in her situation.
As for adults, if sex in this country hadn’t been so stigmatized, a perfect world would have consensual nude selfies exchanged between adults be an inconsequential thing. In fact, it has been argued that this country would be better off by normalizing nude selfies.
But, from the horror as depicted in Euphoria, the answer for this specific situation remains clear: Anyone under age should never, under any circumstances, share nude photos. In fact, this show makes becoming a Never Nude pretty appealing.