HBO’s new show Euphoria, starring Zendaya has gotten a lot of attention and once you watch you’ll understand why. From drugs to nudity, it does not shy away from the harsh realities of the younger generation. We are half way through the season and there’s a lot to discuss. In this article I will be tackling the first four episodes and the hard topics that it dives into.
SPOILERS AHEAD! IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCH EPISODES 1-4 OF EUPHORIA, STOP HERE.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Drug Abuse, Anxiety
The first episode was nothing short of powerful. It introduces Rue (played by Zendaya), a teenage drug addict who has just left rehab after her overdose during the summer. Rue starts the episode off by explaining how her addiction came to be, battling a field of mental illnesses like OCD and anxiety. She talks about how the drugs give her a sense of peace in her chaotic brain. Anxiety is a real thing that I think affects youth differently. There’s constant pressure because everything is constantly changing and I think Euphoria does a good job showcasing that stress without glorifying it.
Rue is a character you want to root for despite her bad decisions. The story’s told from her perspective, so you have a clear and honest opinion about her. Yes, she is a drug addict, but she’s also a human being first. Most people don’t understand addicts aren’t always horrible people. They are people struggling and need help. Euphoria humanizes addicts and that’s something to appreciate.
One of the scariest parts so far we’ve seen where Rue’s addiction has taken her was when she was forced to take Fentanyl. Within the last 5 years, Fentanyl has been a huge epidemic in the United States and it has taken so many loved ones from their families. So watching Rue take the drug (in episode 3) that easily could have killed her left my heart broken. Fez, her long time friend and drug dealer (who looks eerily similar to rapper Mac Miller who passed from a Fentanyl overdose) cares deeply for Rue despite being a hand in her addiction. I think that was no coincidence. Euphoria is all about the details and with drugs it’s a constant battle of good and evil. This small yet impactful detail brought tears to my eyes as a Mac Miller fan.
Now this topic is something I can’t believe was covered yet I was pleasantly surprised by how they tackled it. Society has made it so that being bigger than a certain size makes you less of a person. As if you are less deserving of common decency because you aren’t a size they deem attractive. I can only imagine as a teenager in the prime of social media and Instagram models how much harder it must be to feel accepted.
Kat (played by Barbie Ferreira) is the biggest in her friend group. In the beginning she’s insecure and by the end of episode four she wields her insecurity into power.
I’ve been a big girl my whole life. I haven’t squeezed into a single digit pair of pants since before middle school and watching Kat take hold of her body and own that shit was a proud moment for me. Granted, Kat may not make the best choices (regarding episode 4) and her insecurities aren’t 100% gone. But it was nice seeing the sexual power be in the hands of a plus-sized girl.
Euphoria does not shy away from the topic of sex and let’s be real. Teenagers have sex. Whether it’s used as a revenge tool or a badge of honor there’s no hiding or sugarcoating how present sex is in teen culture. As we grow from kids to adults there’s curiosity, confusion, and pressure that stems around sex.
Jules (played by Hunter Schafer) is the new girl who just moved to town. It’s not until episode four we learn about Jules’s story and how she became the young woman that she is today. Jules is trans, but being trans isn’t all of Jules’s storyline. Yes, it’s a part of who she is, but that’s not the sole focus. There’s a more pressing matter. Jules’s random dating app hook-ups. They are almost always toxic and it’s hard to tell if she’s doing it because she likes it or if there’s something more.Sexuality is a spectrum. You don’t have to be 100% anything and Euphoria is here to remind you of that. Rue falls almost instantly for Jules and her sexual orientation is never mentioned. Jules has always fallen for a certain type of guy. But as we saw in the last episode that’s subject to change. I’m excited to see how theirs develops. My only fear is that Jules is using Rue to fix her broken heart, which in Rue’s situation can be fatal.
Obsession is a common theme in the series. Rue’s obsession with drugs, Jules’s obsession with hook-ups, Nate’s (Jacob Elordi) obsession with Maddy (Alexa Demie), Maddy’s obsession with Nate, and Nate’s dad, Cal’s obsession with his secret life. Their obsession is always the driving force for everything they do. I’m curious to see how far their will push them.