It’s not unheard-of for TV fandoms to criticize or even hate the creator of their favorite show, but Euphoria fans are taking things to a new level. In the wake of news that actress Barbie Ferreira is leaving the show, fans on social media expressed a near-unanimous reaction: Blaming showrunner Sam Levinson.
Ferreira announced her departure on Instagram, writing, “After four years of getting to embody the most special and enigmatic character Kat, I’m having to say a very teary-eyed goodbye. I hope many of you could see yourself in her like I did and that she brought you joy to see her journey into the character she is today.”
She had nothing negative to say about Euphoria or Levinson, and has previously denied rumors of tension between herself and the showrunner. However there’s still widespread speculation that she left the show due to her character’s limited story arc in season 2. Ferreira’s character Kat Hernandez had a much smaller role in season 2 than viewers expected, sparking accusations that Kat was being sidelined. This backlash was spurred on by more general criticism of the show’s depiction of female characters, particularly regarding nudity and sexual content.
Whatever the reason, it’s certainly unusual for an actor to leave such a popular show after just two seasons—especially when that show is their breakout role, and they have no upcoming projects announced.
The most common responses to Ferreira’s announcement are complaints that Levinson underutilized her talents and undercut Kat’s role as a body-positive fat character. There’s also a lot of backlash against the show’s sexual content, tying in with anecdotes about Euphoria actresses like Sidney Sweeney asking not to film “unnecessary” nude scenes.
Levinson was always described as responsive to these requests, changing scenes to make actors feel more comfortable. However these stories still raised eyebrows about the volume of nudity and sex scenes Levinson originally planned to include, in a show that’s already famous for explicit content.
“He made her a teenage camgirl,” wrote Twitter user @cursedhive in response to the news.
This kind of edgy, adult-rated show always attracts some controversy, especially when it focuses on teenagers. But Euphoria‘s arrival also coincided with a burgeoning mainstream awareness about unsafe working conditions in the entertainment industry.
Audiences are increasingly conscious of the unequal power dynamics between young actresses and older male directors and authority figures, and when rumors spread about Ferreira and Levinson allegedly having an on-set argument over Ferreira’s role, fans generally sympathized with her. So despite denials from Ferreira and HBO that any argument took place, a lot of Euphoria fans are taking Ferreira’s departure as proof that something shady went down behind the scenes.
The Daiy Dot has reached out to HBO for comment.
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