‘The Return of Eugenia Cooney’ review
By Roshni Riar, Staff Writer
Content warning: This article contains mention of eating disorders and depression.
Shane Dawson has finally returned to YouTube after a four-and-a-half-month break following his two-part conspiracy theory series uploaded in February.
Since the success of his in-depth series delving into YouTubers’ lives such as The Mind of Jake Paul, The Secret World of Jeffree Star, and The Truth About Tanacon, Dawson’s YouTube comments have been rife with suggestions and pleas for who the centre of his next deep dive should be.
When it was announced that Eugenia Cooney would be Dawson’s next interviewee, social media blew up. Eugenia Cooney—up until the release of Dawson’s video The Return of Eugenia Cooney on July 19—had been on a social media and YouTube break to focus on her health. Her step away from the internet attracted a lot of speculation and controversy, which Cooney has been no stranger to during her six-year YouTube career.
The Return of Eugenia Cooney opens with video clips from The Doctors, various YouTube commentary and speculation channels, fan videos, and clips from her frequent live streams. The intro focuses on the speculations surrounding her physical and mental wellbeing due to her extremely thin appearance—which over the years has become increasingly more severe and alarming. Clips from Q&As and her livestreams show Cooney constantly combatting hate—many people were constantly threating her or insulting her—or having to quell her fans’ fears, telling them not to worry for her. One fan is shown nearly crying and saying, “I think you’d probably be a little prettier if you weren’t dying.”
Starting Dawson’s video with that clip show really drives home the fact that since her start on YouTube in 2013, it’s been hard to avoid the feeling that something hasn’t been right, despite her repeated deflection and shrugging off rumours. The clips highlight just how many people were talking about Eugenia’s wellbeing and how apparent her physical state was, despite how she regularly uploaded YouTube videos and appeared to be active and incredibly positive.
After some nervous back and forth and preparation for his meeting with Cooney, Dawson finally arrives at her home. He’s greeted by her lawyer—which I found a little strange—and then finally sees Cooney, who is her usual bubbly and happy self. After a house tour and some awkward small talk, Dawson and Cooney sit down to chat about YouTube, her time away, and what she’s been struggling with. Cooney admits that she did struggle with an eating disorder and was in a rehab program during her internet hiatus. I really commend her for admitting that she was struggling on her own terms, as opposed to being pressured into it when she was uncomfortable and unhappy, prior to attempting recovery.
Dawson and Cooney talk about the massive amounts of hate she would regularly receive online, which Cooney admits was hurtful but ultimately shrugs it off, opting to approach not only the hate but life in general with positivity. I found that to be a very mature take on the situation and applaud her for moving past the negative to focus on her health and wellbeing.
The Return of Eugenia Cooney focuses more on exactly what the title suggests: Her return to the internet after the controversial career she’s had. I hope that she’s able to recover fully and perhaps not jump right back into a regular upload schedule so as to avoid any unnecessary pressure. A lot of Dawson’s fans wanted answers about her family, her life outside of YouTube, the history of her eating disorder—all the nitty gritty details. This video wasn’t meant to provide those. It was meant to welcome someone back into a community that for years had flung hate, ridicule, and threats her way, in order to show her that people will support her.