If you liked Euphoria on HBO, then you’ll love HBO Max’s new series, Generation. The shows are practically sisters: Both center on moody, impossibly cool teens. Both champion diversity. And both are highly entertaining.
Like Euphoria, Generation rotates points of view between its main characters, who are all teens struggling with identity. There’s Chester (Justice Smith), who’s boastful and acts out at school, which clearly stems from unresolved personal issues. We also have Nathan (Uly Schlesinger), who’s coming to terms with his bisexuality and secretly hooking up with his sister’s boyfriend. And then there’s Greta (Haley Sanchez), whose problems at home are only compounded by the fact she’s secretly pining for a girl named Riley (Chase Sui Wonders). Other character POVs are woven in, as well.
From those descriptors, it’s evident queer representation is a priority for Generation—and it succeeds with flying colors. Not only do the sexualities on this show run the gamut, there’s a distinct rejection of the gender binary. In perhaps a scene intended as both cheeky commentary and scene-setting, a student gets frustrated with a math teacher because a word problem centers on cisgender characters. A few scenes later, two gay parents are clocked for making a Harry Potter reference in light of J.K. Rowling’s past transphobic comments. Inclusivity is not only paramount on Generation, it’s normal.
None of the queer kids in this world are bullied—which is such a revelation for me. But it’s not just that they’re left alone: Generation takes things a step further by fully integrating queer stories into the narrative. There’s not just one gay story here, and no one is held up on a pedestal; queer kids just exist, as, you know, real queer kids do. Because of that, we see what the world could be if heteronormativity didn’t permeate our social constructs. Chester, for example, wears skirts and crop-tops but is also a star player on the school’s water polo team. When he walks by a group of his teammates in said crop-top, they just say hey to him. It’s such a simple, obvious thing, but it will absolutely resonate with anyone who felt like they couldn’t be themselves at 17. Chester is the “jock” our next generation needs to see and idolize. Troy Bolton, quite frankly, is shaking.
“I wanted to see myself and the people I know on screen represented in the most fresh, real, and authentic ways possible,” 19-year-old Zelda Barnz, who created Generation with her father, Daniel, tells Glamour.
Barnz’s other father, Ben, is listed as an executive producer on Generation alongside Zelda, Daniel, and Lena Dunham. As you can imagine, creating a show like this with your parents might have its downsides. “I admit, talking to my dad about hickeys and other sex stuff was pretty weird and uncomfortable at first. But one thing I realized was that the show wasn’t going to work unless I was really honest, since the whole point was to try to get at something authentic,” Barnz says. “In a way, it was actually kind of freeing. I realized that in the context of talking about the show, I could also talk about my real life. I hadn’t expected that to happen.”