Two days ago, I binge watched HBO’s new television show, Euphoria. If I’m being totally honest, I only started watching it for the incredibly talented Zendaya. I love that girl.
I was skeptical at first, because I internally (however incorrectly) was comparing it to the show Thirteen Reasons Why, which I am not a fan of. The latter show, in my opinion, glorifies depression and suicide, and sends the message, “If you kill yourself, everyone who was mean to you will feel really bad and you will live on in their memory.” But that’s frankly not true and can be toxic to impressionable young people.
Although Euphoria does have a similar intensity to Thirteen Reasons Why that’s where it stops. Euphoria does an amazing job at showing what drug addiction, depression, trauma, sex, mental illness, and everything in-between, is truly like when you’re a teenager. It’s raw and, at times, uncomfortable, but that’s only because it’s real. There’s no romanticizing these feelings. There’s no beauty in it. It’s sad and it’s scary and it’s heartbreaking.
I think a lot of that is due to the show’s creator, Sam Levinson. The show is based largely on his own experiences with drug addiction and mental illness and that is the key difference. It’s not forced, it’s not sensational. It is just true.
There are a lot of things that I love about the show. First off is the acting. Zendaya’s performance (as the main character Rue) is truly impressive, especially the scenes where she’s showing her weaknesses and breaking down, having anxiety attacks or begging for drugs. There were a lot of times that I cried and actually pitied her, as if she were someone I knew; a friend of mine. She damn well better win an Emmy for her performance. She is one talented girl.
Actually, I found the entire cast to be phenomenal. Especially Hunter Schafer. She’s a trans model who worked with Dior, Tommy Hilfiger, and other golden names in the fashion industry. And, damn, does she rock the role of Jules, Rue’s quirky best friend and love interest. Critics have praised both Schafer and the show itself for the way they portray her character. When trans people act in shows, often times they are constantly addressing their gender and sexuality, which kind of takes away a lot of the depth to their character. After all, there’s much more to them as a person than all of that.
But, in Euphoria, they barely address it at all. All the viewers get is a shot of Jules (Hunter Shafer) giving herself an estrogen injection and a few other body shots, but that’s about it. The viewer easily understands all these subtle context queues, and it allows Jules to have a story line and character background that is just simply her. Also, omg, Jules and Rue (aka Rules) are the cutest ever.
Besides the acting and depth of the characters, the outfits and visual effects are pretty awesome. I can’t decide if I want Jules’ or Rue’s wardrobe more. In episode 4, everyone is at the carnival, which is one of the only times all the characters converge in one connected event. The moment when the fireworks are going off is stunning.
I highly encourage everyone to watch this show, if you think you can handle it. Before the show aired, Zendaya made an Instagram post that I admired and think everyone should read before watching the show. Here it is below:
If you do end up watching Euphoria, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. And you’re in luck. Only two hours ago (on June 11th at 1 p.m.) was Euphoria confirmed for a second season. Considering that only four episodes total are out, I’d say that the show is doing pretty well. I’m sure we can all expect great things from it.