Euphoria is the latest hit television show on HBO. It recently wrapped up its first season and I just finished my binge watch. Euphoria is a dark, teen drama with explicit and violent content. Sometimes I squirmed watching it, but it is a good teen show.
I think many of the storylines are relatable to what teens and young adults deal with, people in general really. The show depicts many issues including: drug addiction, mental illness, and toxic masculinity. We watch Rue battle a drug addiction that she uses to cope with her mental health issues. Nate is insecure about his sexuality and it comes out in violent ways. Unlike, many teen movies and television shows of the past, Euphoria shows the dark sides of being a teenager. I appreciate the fact that it’s on HBO, because it gives them the freedom to depict how dark teenage life can really get.
When I say the show can get dark, I mean it can get really dark. Sometimes to the point where it is triggering for me as a viewer. Some scenes I’d have to turn away from. As someone who has battled mental health issues, it was hard watching Rue struggle with the same thing without me getting emotional. I hated the scene where Nate brutally beats the man Maddy falsely accused of raping her. It was somewhat disturbing.
The visual elements of the show are distinct. I love the cinematography, the soundtrack, and the fashion. The vivid colors, the dark lighting, and the director shots makes the show aesthetically pleasing. Along with the fashion, which is rivaling Sex and the City levels of iconic style. It’s only the first season and girls are already posting makeup tutorials inspired by the show. Their soundtrack mostly features Black artists including: Drake, Migos, Solange, and Beyonce. And shoutout to Euphoria for including many Black female rappers on their soundtrack.
The acting is decent, no complaints there. But there are two standout actors for me: Zendaya and Jacob Elordi. Zendaya gets to show versatility with her role as Rue Bennett. It helps shed her squeaky clean, Disney image without going the extreme route. I get lost in her character and forget that it’s Zendaya I’m watching. I admit that I underestimated her acting abilities. The scenes where she rants about Nate and Jules during her manic episode made me eat my words. Jacob Elordi as Nate Jacobs is scary good. He makes me believe he is a sociopath. The scene where he repeatedly slams his head on the floor after a fight with his dad, has to be his best and creepiest scene.
I love majority of the characters. They’re all pretty interesting. But my favorites are Rue and Maddy. As I mentioned before, Zendaya plays the hell out of this role. Rue’s dry wit and vulnerability makes her a lovable character. Unlike the popular characters in other teen shows, Maddy lives an imperfect life. She’s the fabulous cheerleader in an abusive relationship and a depressing home life.
My least favorite characters are definitely McKay and Cassie. Compared to the other crazy storylines, their relationship is dull. To accurately describe their characters, it’s like they were copied from a generic teen show and pasted onto Euphoria. Their story sticks out for the wrong reason.
I only have a couple of critiques for the show. The scenes can be confusing at times. It’s hard to tell when the characters are having a flashback, hallucinating, or if something is presently happening. An example of this would be when Jules is high at a nightclub and it seems as if she and Nate have actually encountered each other. It was hard to figure out what was happening until she appeared to be imagining Rue cuddling with her. I also hated the last scene of the season finale. The Zendaya music performance was out of place and bizarre. The teen drama changed into a musical at the last few minutes.
Other than those two critiques, I love Euphoria. The stories draw you in. You get lost in the characters and the vividness of the show. I would add a trigger warning to many scenes, but I would still recommend watching Euphoria.