Genera+ion Season 1, Episode 1 recap: Introducing the latest edgy teen drama

Genera+ion Season 1, Episode 1 - Photograph by Jennifer Clasen / HBO Max
Genera+ion Season 1, Episode 1 - Photograph by Jennifer Clasen / HBO Max /

Generation is the latest edgy teen drama from HBO created by father/daughter team Zelda and Daniel Barnz, although it seems to be a more lighthearted counterpart to the premium network’s critically-acclaimed Euphoria. Generation Episode 1, which premiered alongside the second and third episodes this week on HBO Max, introduced us to several of the show’s core characters, alternating viewpoints to take us through a day in the lives of Generation Z. Fans of Grand Army and Euphoria will surely find lots to like here.

The episode wastes no time diving into the drama, with the opening sequence showing Naomi helping her friend potentially give birth in a mall bathroom stall. We don’t know 100% that the unseen girl on the other side of the wall is actually giving birth, but something is going painfully wrong for her in the bathroom near the Chipotle. Before we can get all the information, the series skips back a while to introduce us to this new cast of characters.

First, we meet Justice Smith’s Chester. Smith is sort of like the Zendaya of Generation, he seems poised for a breakout, especially as he’s already proved himself a talented actor in previous works like Detective Pikachu, Jurassic World and Netflix’s The Get Down. Here he plays Chester, a confident popular kid at school who frequently flouts the dress code in favor of crop tops and ripped jeans.

When we first meet Chester in Generation Episode 1, he’s received his third dress-code violation and is sentenced to a meeting with the school’s new guidance counselor, Sam (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). Sam is a significant step-up from their previous counselor and there is an immediate sort of flirtation between Sam and Chester.

I’m praying to the television gods that Sam shuts down anything untoward because the last thing this teen drama needs is yet another poorly-conceived predatory relationship between a student and adult.

Chester quickly lands on Sam’s radar because he sends his counselor a photo of himself in a precarious position on a roof doing something the kids apparently call “rooftopping.” Sam, who has had experience with people hurting themselves, takes the photo seriously and tells Chester to meet him in his office again on Monday. Chester isn’t pleased as he insists he’s not the type of person to self-harm, but Sam insists he has to consider the possibility anyway.

Generation Episode 1
Generation Episode 1 – Photograph by Jennifer Clasen / HBO Max /

Generation Episode 1 recap: Nathan pursues his crush Chester

Meanwhile, Chester starts receiving text messages from Nathan (Uly Schlesinger) via his friend Riley’s (Chase Sui Wonders) phone. Nathan is a closeted bisexual teen with a twin sister named Naomi (Chloe East). He also has a big crush on Chester and is attracted to his extroverted personality. Nathan invites Chester to Riley’s party that night.

At the party, we find out that Nathan is hooking up with his sister’s boyfriend, Jack (Connor Chavez). Further complicating things is the very nature of their sibling bond. Naomi and Nathan live in an ultra-conservative household with their mother, Megan (Martha Plimpton). Megan plans every element of her family’s lives on a giant spreadsheet set up in the kitchen –– down to using purple dots for sex nights with her husband.

Naomi imagined that she and Nathan were best friends, but then she finds a dick pic on his phone and is upset that he didn’t tell her that he is gay. Nathan denies being gay. We learn later from Riley that Nathan is actually bisexual and he’s revealed this privileged information to Riley, but not his sister. It’s hinted that Naomi is threatened by her brother’s friendship with Riley.

Generation Episode 1
Generation Episode 1 – Photograph by Jennifer Clasen / HBO Max /

Generation Episode 1 recap: Greta is crushing on Riley

And speaking of Riley, she has her own little romantic plot brewing. One of the other girls in their circle, Greta, has a crush on her, although Greta hasn’t told Riley yet. Greta lives with her aunt and brother. She also has major issues with her mom, although we don’t learn what they are just yet. And her aunt also knows that Greta isn’t straight, as she’s open and honest about asking Greta what girl has caught her interest enough to make her want to wear makeup.

At Riley’s party, Jack and Nathan start hooking up behind Naomi’s back. Things come to an abrupt finish when Jack climaxes in Nathan’s eye, making it look like he’s crying. he runs into Chester immediately after, who assumes Nathan has been tearing up. He asks Riley to take a picture of them. Riley snaps an awkward picture of Nathan staring moonily at Chester while an awkward Greta sits beside them.

In the final moments of the episode, Riley lets Nathan sleep in her bed to recover from his “worst day ever” and she posts the image she took on Instagram. Considering the photo makes it look like Nathan and Chester have something going on, I’m not sure that’s going to blow over well, but we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

The last scene of Generation Episode 1 has Nathan asking Riley to sleep next to him. She promises to join him “in a bit” and then goes outside and jumps into her pool with all of her clothes on, allowing herself to sink to the bottom. If I had to guess, I’d say Riley might be battling some serious depression.

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What did you think of Generation Episode 1? Will you keep watching the HBO Max series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

The first three episodes of Generation are currently available to stream on HBO Max.