Euphoria. Latinx TV: Bedroom Culture, and Representation

Curator's Note

According to Angela McRobbie, beauty routines for female youth culture are of the greatest importance.  Using McRobbie’s foundational research, I contend that Euphoria fandom, as displayed on TikTokis inextricably linked to the general care and maintenance of the body and thus encourages young women to consider beauty as a full-time job demanding due patience, and learning.  We are in what television studies scholar Amanda Lotz calls TV’s “post-network era,” and as a result, the possibilities for representation for Latinx teenagers are endless.  Latinx teenagers, in highly distinct ways, depart from the simplistic sidekick role or portray “vulnerable” and “victims” of negative media attention, these teens are much more multidimensional in their quest for agency (Baez, 2018).  Contextualizing both the performance and comments of the female fandom, young females learn how to apply mascara, pluck their eyebrows, shave their legs, and much more.  Each of these tasks involves labor but is performed as fun and leisure when carried out for the viewer or spectator.  More importantly, this labor is performed in the confines of presumably their home, bedroom, or living room, thus contributing, both directly and indirectly, to domestic production.  By keeping herself clean, tidy, and well-groomed, the girl, is, in effect, shifting some of the burden of womanhood from her mother onto herself.

I look to build from existing research on both bedroom culture and digital placemaking to argue for an understanding of place on TikTok as fundamentally performative within feminism and youth culture.  This research, based on Euphoria fan videos, examines how the bedroom, whether appearing on screen or not, can be implicit as a fundamental requirement of placemaking on TikTok.  During her research, McRobbie found that girls were more likely to stay inside, as they were more likely to be accused of sexual impropriety and are more likely to face psychological hardships, due to factors such as lack of self-confidence than their male counterparts, meaning that they are safer in their bedrooms. Thus, as this theory was introduced in the 1960s, the social world was more likely to be on the street, while girls used their bedrooms to establish their own social world (such as pajama parties and testing their own identities by changing their hairstyles and clothing). However, the bedroom for girls has changed as girls became associated with virtual spaces and digital bedrooms.  Although the bedroom has changed for girls, it still acts as a place where growth into woman takes place. As a result, it has been argued that bedroom culture has become an explanation and a conceptual tool with which to understand the specific ways in which girls organize their lives.  Contemporary female youth are not retreating to private spaces; more so (Wanzo, 2015), they are reconfiguring such sites to create new publics that can better serve their needs, interests, and goals.  Social Media authenticity with fan performance on TikTok occurs at the intersection of teen drama shows, and social media aesthetics, as manifested by the location of the bedroom is exhibited in HBO’s popular teen drama Euphoria.

Barbie Ferreira is a Brazilian American model turned actor who plays Kat (Katherine Hernandez).  She has been vocal about body positivity both before and after her television debut on Euphoria in her unprecedented role, as Ferreira states, “you don’t get fat girl roles where you’re allowed to explore sexuality, we are not just the tragic dowdy chubby girl” (Dodson, 2018).  Ferreira first gained recognition at the age of eighteen for her non-photographed shopped images for an aerie lingerie campaign and went on to model for brands such as American apparel. She then became a body positive as a kid and created her own vice video series, How to Breathe, about self-care. By 2016 she had over a million Instagram followers and was named one of Time magazine’s most influential teens (Dodson, 2018).  Katherine “Kat” Hernandez has been a fan-favorite for Euphoria fans since the show’s first season when she transitioned from a body-conscious teen to a sexually awakened rebel.  For Kat, the space of her bedroom becomes a vessel for her not only her body transition but for sexual awakening and revolution. Noticeably, Kat was a very pivotal character in season one of Euphoria, with a lot of time given to Kat’s cam girl and body positivity plot.  Barbie’s character, Kat, possesses a dual life in the series, where she’s ignored or picked on in high school but has a big online following as a fan fiction writer and eventually a cam girl.


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