This promo for Euphoria broadcasted on HBO T.V, network features the logo for the show as well as the lead actress. This picture pretty much sums up the gritty, emotional, and sparkly aesthetic of the show. Zendaya gives as much performance in this promo picture as she does in the real show which makes it just as intriguing.
“If I could be a different person, I promise you, I would. Not because I want it, but because they do. And therein lies the catch” - Rue Bennett
After watching and obsessing over HBO’s new show Euphoria, I decided to dissect it to reveal the specific things that make this show a must-watch for all teenagers and parents as well. Provocative and shocking, the show tackles issues that many are afraid to even mention. Couple the over the top storylines with the amazing acting from young, beautiful actors and you have a new series that keeps its viewers longing for more. None of today's controversial hot topics escape the script and even the most taboo subjects get screen time. At this time, I must issue an obligatory spoiler alert warning before I proceed. Stop here if you don’t want any more details revealed. Otherwise, let’s take a closeup look at this new stunner of a show.
Euphoria is as outrageous as it is interesting and the combination totally works! The show travels through the halls of high school and focuses on coming of age issues like peer pressure and dating dramas. The show is so remarkable, however, because it goes further and ventures into the gritty, dark areas of high school life that push boundaries and leave viewers unsettled and disturbed. The characters in the show take us on their journey where social media, tinder and vaping propel them through life in suburbia. We watch gawking as they discover their sexual identities, cope with addiction and mental illness and battle their demons. As the leading actor and main plotline driver, Zendaya plays the role of Rue Bennett, a seventeen-year-old drug addict with ADHD, bipolar disorder, OCD, and depression. The show begins with Rue’s depiction of her childhood and continues with her narrating her circumstances all the way up until her present seventeen-year-old self. We learn about her substance abuse issues and her struggles with depression and bipolar disorders. Starring in a show with such mature subject matter and playing such an emotionally complex character was a huge change of scenery for the former Disney actress. It’s refreshing and fun to see how versatile she really is as she tackles the Gen-Z teen. Throughout the first episode, we also meet the other main characters and hear brief narrations from Rue who actually narrates the entire episode. These brief introductions give us a sense of each character and set the foundation of the show with no confusion as to who anyone is playing. Maddie Perez, Nate jacobs, Jules Vaughn, Cassie Howard, Christopher Mkay, Fezco, Lexi Howard, Kat Hernandez, and Gia Bennett are the main characters in the show. Each character develops as the episodes continue and we get a closer look into each of their lives both separately and as they overlap with other characters. One thing, out of many, that the directors of Euphoria really got right is the casting. Each character is authentic and relatable to teens as they portray all of the different struggles today's teenagers strive to overcome. As we follow Rue and the others through their journey of self-discovery it’s impossible not to reflect about all of the difficulties they face and it’s easy to relate with the emotional journeys of the characters.
Second, only to the incredible acting and plotline are the wardrobe and makeup choices. An entire movement and trend started after the makeup artist for the show bravely created her makeup magic. Donni Davy, the makeup artist for Euphoria incorporated many different inspirations for her elaborate eye designs. Glitter, bright colors, jewels, and rhinestones are all used to decorate the actors and actresses’ faces, each character getting their own unique sense of style. Maddie Perez, the sparkly, fun, firecracker is often wearing rhinestones and different shades of bright pinks, purples, and neon blues or oranges while for Rue they often do glitter tears streaming down her face or dark smudged eyeliner to symbolize the messy and manic aspect of her personality.
Not only does the sparkly makeup catch my eye, but the wardrobe that each character debuts makes me want to raid the set closet. The clothing and makeup choices reveal so much more than just the outside appearance of each character. Through their outfits and makeup, the inside emotions of the characters unfurl. For Rue, her waxing and waning states of manic and depression make her messy, edgy, and cool. Her clothing can best be described as a girl version of Seth Rogan except showing more skin. My favorite character, Jules, always has the best clothes and I find myself stalking the designers she wears. Her character is best described as unstoppable, spontaneous, and bold, so naturally, her clothes are bright and colorful with a bit of edge. In many ways, her clothes and makeup represent everything Jules wanted to be and achieve. It's exciting to watch her be proud and comfortable in her skin. Hunter Schafer, who plays Jules, is the first transgender teen to play a transgender role in a show. Schafer transitioned with the support of her parents at a young age and she also helped others like her on their journey. Although Schafer doesn't like being referred to as an activist as she doesn't believe that she fits that label, she truly is truly inspiring as she spoke out for other transgender people. Schafer was a plaintiff in the famous ACLU 2016 lawsuit against North Carolina House Bill 2 that required people to use the restroom for the gender they were assigned at birth. Knowing this makes me like the show even more.
A review of this show would be incomplete without addressing the fact that the Parents Television Council issued a warning about Euphoria insisting that it is “grossly irresponsible programming” because of the graphic content. Slow your roll parents! This show is definitely a lot to stomach and there are some things in it that are graphic and also heart wrenching so I advise anyone watching this show to make sure they are mentally prepared for what’s to come. Grossly irresponsible, however? I don't think so. Lumping the show into such a category seems to me, an attempt to turn a blind eye to all of the ways that life has evolved and perhaps left adults feeling uncomfortable. The main struggle in the show is substance abuse and we see lots of relapse through Rue’s journey to recovery. I often found myself screaming at my laptop because of the emotional journey watching Rue trying to quit drugs as well as her struggle with depression. This is only one of the controversial topics euphoria captures. Abortion, domestic abuse, trauma, parental neglect, sexual assault, and body dysmorphia are some of the other things discussed in the show, so clearly this isn’t a Disney channel show where Zendaya is a dancer or a secret agent.
Undeniably, these are heavy topics. For parents watching, don’t freak out! Most of us can't say that we live the way these teens do. In reality, we are pretty lame compared to the Euphoria neighborhood kids and most of us are not engaging in the dangerous, provocative situations sometimes depicted on the show. Though the show is accurate in some of its depictions about gen Z and high school, it takes many things to the extreme to make a point, often making the show unrealistic compared to the true lives of teens today. There is no denying that the underlying issues exist, they just aren’t as dramatic, next level and exaggerated as the show portrays them to be. Shock value and wow factors pop up regularly in each episode that will compel parents to try to put their teens in a bubble after seeing some of the show. But please trust me, it is not that bad out there. The creators are often pushing the limits and the storylines are almost fantastical in their absurdity. Without giving away too much, believe me when I say we aren’t all internet porn stars, on fentanyl, meeting strange men from dating apps for one night stands in sleazy motels. While there is much truth to the show and lots of issues the characters deal with do occur often in teenagers’ lives, more of it is embellished and taken way past the limits, which make it fun and exciting for kids, but abhorrent and downright frightening for our parents. After the first few episodes, the show takes it down a notch or maybe the viewer just settles in and becomes harder to shock. Either way, secure your seatbelts Mom and Dad and watch the show (extra points for those who are brave enough to view it with their teen)! Watching Euphoria will provide insight into the generation that you are raising and it will show your teen that you want to at least attempt to understand and learn! My own mom said it could be compared with movies like Hair or Rent which also tackle generational issues...only Euphoria is like these other movies but on steroids (no pun intended). It’s unsettling, but trying to watch it might just earn you points with your teen for at least attempting to stomach the content. After all, this is our generation. While some of us might be risk-takers or attention driven thrill-seekers, we are also inclusive and tolerant and amazing...just like Euphoria.
After finishing Euphoria I immediately ran to the internet for any clues on season two, as the show did end on a cliffhanger surrounded by a thousand conspiracy theories. The only thing I can say about the second season of Euphoria is that it is confirmed. Although the release date is unknown and the producers and directors have decided to keep everything pretty quiet, we know that the show is returning and I can't wait to binge it when it does debut. Euphoria is a show for the thrill seekers, fashionistas, clueless parents, lost teens, and everyone in between. It’s a show that tackles real issues that the current generation is facing, and I am warning you, after watching it you may feel a complete and total sense of euphoria.