HBO’s Euphoria is created by Sam Levinson and it is based off an Israeli miniseries with the same name. The show mainly follows Rue, a drug addicted 17-year old who just got out of rehab. Once newcomer Jules enters the picture, Rue’s life will dramatically change. Along with these two the show also shows the lives of Rue’s classmates and in one way or another every story weaves itself into one another. The series stars Zendaya, Hunter Schafer, Jacob Elordi, Angus Cloud, Alexa Demie, Sydney Sweeney and Barbie Ferreira.
I am a pretty big Zendaya fan. I’ve watched her since Disney Channel and I’ve stanned ever since. Because of this, Euphoria was on my horizon pretty early on. I knew it was a teen drama and I knew that it was controversial from the start because an episode featured around 30 penises. Yeah. Anyways, I wasn’t compelled to watch it until it premiered. Since it premiered it was on my Twitter timeline constantly. Either because something exciting happened or because of the cool new makeup trend it started. Either ways people were talking about Euphoria. I let the season end so I can binge it all at once and once I finished the first episode, I understood the hype.
Euphoria is one of the most exciting shows I’ve seen this year. Every aspect which makes a show good or great, Euphoria twists into something new. It’s so drastically different from any other shows right now. Do not compare this to Riverdale or to 13 Reasons Why, just don’t. Euphoria brings something new to the table for teens and adults. This show’s personality and identity are as eccentric and in your face as it can be. This might have to do with the fact that it’s produced by A24 Television. A24 is known for their artistic and realistic depictions of life in their teen movies for example Lady Bird and Eighth Grade.
This show was interesting to watch since I am still a teenager. I finished school just this year and watching this show has almost been surreal because of how much it reminded me of that experience at times. Sometimes critics will say they felt like a fly on the wall because they felt like they were there. With Euphoria it was different for me, I felt like I was living through Rue at times. For example, episode 4: “Shook One Pt. II” (my favourite episode) mostly takes place at a fair where the whole town is there. I felt the exact same feeling as when I go to a fair and see people I know or friends only I felt that way about the characters of Euphoria. It’s incredible to me how a show can evoke a rather personal feeling. However the reason why Euphoria pulls it off is quite simple: spending time with the characters.
Every episode starts with an in-depth look at a character from the show. The show manages to cover every main character and in those ten minutes or so, you as a viewer instantly connect with these characters in the same you would connect to friends at school. Not your best friends but those people you talk to when you’re at school but only in school. You develop that connection and so it makes the experience feel like you live in this world whenever you watch the show. The show captures stuff like that. Also I thought it was interesting how the show portrayed adults as irresponsible people with the exception of Rue and Jules’ mums. It reminded me of how adults were portrayed in IT (2017). In terms of story, Euphoria takes the modern teenage life and shows it in explicit detail. Being a teenager is never easy, it never was and it never will be. There is a sense of pressure and there are expectations. Teens care about stupid things like whether or not you’ve lost your virginity or not, who you date, gossip galore. Of course not every teen is like that but we’ve all had those friends who are all too interested in other people’s lives.
The characters are on a spectrum just like teens are. There are teens which are more mature than others but still have some growing up to do. There are teens which act mature but go about in childish ways and there are teens which are just childish. This show understands that. The things these characters do, they are things teens would do. It’s realistic. Of course this is a show made for entertainment just like any other show, so things are taken to a stretch for entertainment purposes. There’s this one character who is just too villainy for a teen. You know who I’m talking about if you’ve seen this show.
These characters wouldn’t be this life-like without the amazing performances. This cast is emmy-worthy. Because this show spends time on every character, they have a lot of scenes to show their emotional range. There are scenes in which every character has that scene which blows the viewers away. Zendaya delivers her best performance yet as Rue. She portrays such a broken person with such passion and dedication. There is one particular scene in episode 3 in which I was convinced that not only should she be nominated but actually win an Emmy. She portrays addiction, guilt, regret, falling in love in a way that makes you forget she’s a fictional character.
The accompanying cast is just as amazing. Jacob Elordi is something else. I only knew from The Kissing Booth on Netflix. What a waste of his talent. His performance as Nate is scary convincing. I watched an interview of him talking about Euphoria. I had to remind myself that he actually wasn’t the character from the show. Barbie Ferreira as Kat was also amazing. She portrayed a character going through a massive change in her life. She brings all that insecurity and doubt that one would have before making these decisions. Hunter Schafer’s breakout role is also amazing. I couldn’t believe this was her acting debut. I hope she gets more work from this. Literally everyone does an amazing job with their performance. I would like to give Storm Reid and Nika King a shout-out as Rue’s sister and mother.
Earlier in this review I mentioned how this show amplifies every aspect which makes a show great. In my opinion, for a movie or a show to be truly great, they would need amazing cinematography, great use of colour (such an underrated tool) and a unique musical score. Obviously these would need to accompany a great script, story, performances and characters. This show checks off all of those. The cinematography and camera movement in this show are insane. The camera movements are in-tune with a character’s emotion. If Rue is high, the movement will be trippy meaning it will spin and turn around. There is a great scene in episode 1 in which a room spins but only Rue moves with it. Also I cannot praise Labrinth enough for making the music for this show, it is so incredibly in-line with the show’s atmosphere. Not to mention the final scene of the season which I won’t spoil but it’s indescribable (in the best way).
Overall Euphoria blew me away. This show has a new, fresh and exciting personality made up of amazing cinematography, incredibly suitable music, artistic choices matching the story and emmy-worthy performances. I love this show, I love everything about it. There really aren’t any flaws in my opinion. I do agree however that there are scenes which can be a bit hard to watch but other than that, this is my easily my favourite show of the year, so far. It’s new, it’s fresh and it’s exciting, I cannot wait for Season 2!