Euphoria TV Show Breakdown with 2 Holiday Special Episodes
Written by Blair Chernow
These photos are promos for the new holiday episodes of Euphoria broadcast on HBO T.V, one features an up-close, semi-blurred photo of Zendaya while the other features a portrait photo of Hunter Schafer. These photos alone sparked an uproar of excitement in the Euphoria community.
“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 close-up 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, such as 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 17-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 17-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 matters 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 descriptions from Rue, who 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 on 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--iis 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.
This promo for Euphoria broadcasted on HBO T.V, 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.
Not only does the sparkly makeup catch the viewer’s eye, but the wardrobe that each character debuts makes anyone 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, just 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 while 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 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. 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 an attempt to turn a blind eye to all of the ways 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 these 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 often push 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). Parents, 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 their struggles.
My own mom said it could be compared with movies such as 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 watching 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 about 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 has been 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.
Two years after the release of HBO’s Euphoria the fandom has been given two-holiday specials that reimmersed us into the glittery world of teenage angst. After watching the new episodes over seven times, your favorite reporter is back to give you the scoop on our beloved Rue and Jules, and where these two are now after the dramatic train station rendezvous. We begin with a raw, gritty, conversation-style episode with only Rue and Ali (Rue’s father figure that she met at an N.A meeting). This one-shot scene takes place in a fluorescent-lit diner as we watch these two dive into the realities of Rue’s addiction. For us viewers, we were just glad to see Rue alive and semi-well. The ending of euphoria not only left us wondering if Rue would be in the following season, but where her relationship with some of the other characters stood. For many, this new episode served as a therapy appointment, and we also get to see Rue and Ali truly interact whilst learning some shocking information about both characters. I was hoping Rue would be clean and in recovery, but instead, we were granted with the same drug addict we have all come to love. Multiple times in the episode Ali will ask Rue if she is high, and per-usual Rue is flip and flighty about the subject. Besides the fact that she is high pretty much the whole season, we begin to see that Rue is in fact, not a reliable narrator. Rue is the audience’s only form of information, and now we are seeing that some of the things we were previously told are in fact false or misconstrued. The episode continues on as the two talk, we see the harsh reality of addiction which brings out a more emotional and remorseful side of Rue. The episode, while void of its usual sparkly flare, is just as intense and tear-jerking as all the rest.
Many made Jules out to be the villain of the show, but I will take zero Jules slander here. In her very special episode, we see a real-life therapy session where Jules recounts her past few months and how she has been affected by her love life, her issues with Nate Jacobs (another character on the show), and her drug-addict mom coming in and out of her life for the first time in years. This is a refreshing new take on the show, as we finally see the perspective of a different character, which not only helps us sympathize with Jules but also makes us a little skeptical about Rue’s behavior. This episode not only served as an update on my favorite T.V show but also a more normalized view of therapy, which for me especially made it so much easier to acknowledge my mental health issues and feel less embarrassed over my weekly therapy appointment. Not only does this episode completely change the narrative of struggling with mental health but it also showcases some beautiful cinematography from the director Sam Levinson. Hunter Schafer, the actress who plays Jules, also talked about how she was super involved in the process of creating this episode, and some she even actually drew out of her own life. While these two episodes are nowhere near an entirely new season of this beloved show, they gave the insatiable audience something to chew on and we cannot wait for the upcoming season, planned to debut in either 2021 or 2022.