Euphoria uses visuals, layered characters and music to create one of the most stunning television series I’ve ever watched.
This post for Euphoria Season 1 contains spoilers.
Euphoria’s (2019, created by Sam Levinson) main theme isn’t anything out of the ordinary, as many television networks have done shows about teenagers before; but what makes Euphoria unique is its tone, visuals, sound and characters. The series follows a group of Gen Z-ers and their complex relationships with high school, identity, sexuality and society.
If Meryl Streep is the shining star of Big Little Lies Season 2, then Zendaya is the epitome of Streep. Zendaya stars as Rue Bennett, a drug-addicted and depressed teenager, who has just been released from rehab. Rue is what binds Euphoria together, as she serves as the narrator for the series. Each episode also features an individual character’s story—think E4’s Skins, but more trippy—that goes in-depth into their backstory and character psych.
The episode that stood out to me this season was Jules Vaughn’s (Hunter Schafer) story in “Shook One: Pt II” (S01E04), as her episode was probably one of the most sophisticated depictions of a transgendered character I have ever seen on-screen. Schafer who is also acting for the first time portrays Jules with such carefree spirit, which makes her one of the most easily likeable characters on the show.
In Euphoria, the villainous role goes to the stereotypical jock character, Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi). Elordi does a terrific job in portraying an isolated and anger-filled jock; through the season, it is clear that Nate is dealing with a lot of self-inflicted issues that are caused by his upbringing. His family backstory is not fully developed this season, but I’m sure behind his complicated character arc lies a story about his missing brother.
Even though the young actors of Euphoria gave phenomenal performances, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with audiences who comment about how all of them deserve an Emmy, particularly Zendaya. I feel like all of the actors still have a long way to go before even qualifying for an Emmy award in acting since the bulk of them are still new to the Hollywood industry. Furthermore, I feel that what fuels the characters to stand out is Levinson’s writing. If he had not made specific creative decisions for certain characters, then the show itself would not have been unique.
Although Levinson’s direction for the series is creatively infused with vibrant colours and unconventional cinematography—I occasionally find these creative choices to be somewhat confounding for the story, as not all creative decisions add a significant purpose, other than to showcase a stylishly shot and edited episode.
The stories of these teenagers are not over, as Euphoria has been renewed for a second season. I look forward to seeing more of this show, as the finale episode “And Salt the Earth Behind You” posed many questions and theories about Rue’s existence in the show—but thankfully, according to Levinson, “Rue is not dead”.