The Refreshment That is “Euphoria”
Okay, so I used to love the Canadian television show, “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” I also loved the British television show “Skins.” So I was able to pick up on the raw, grittiness that would become HBO’s “Euphoria.” And yes, as I type this, I am blasting Labrinth and Zendaya’s “All for Us” because that was honestly one of the best songs I’ve ever seen in a show in a long time, let alone a season finale. Regardless, I reserve a special place for the authentic teen drama show here and there, but “Euphoria” is a class all its own.
Yes, Zendaya is making her way across magazine covers and killing her red carpet looks whether it’s rocking locs to the Academy Awards or pulling out her best Cinderella for the Met Gala. But her portrayal as Rue, a teen drug addict, is a true demonstration of her acting talent. It’s far too easy to focus on the headliner though. The entirety of “Euphoria” is one of delicious indulgences. Not only are they presenting prominent issues that teens experience during their maturation, such as the extent and definition of their sexuality, but they also give us a truth that we possibly forget, being a teenager is difficult. I honestly can’t imagine being a teen with the prevalence of social media and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
“Euphoria” is not shying away from the issues. They show a character undergoing an abortion or another struggling to define love in a physically abusive relationship. No, I’m not saying that this show is reflective of every single teen out there, a sentiment that I find unsettling when it comes to reviews of dramas. Let’s get this out there, a drama is just that, a dramatized version of reality. With that said, that does not deter from many of these sequences being someone’s reality. I, for example, do know what it’s like to see a parent on the verge of their deathbed and to not know how to handle those emotions. And, sometimes, as much as I enjoy talking about the racial identity, it’s nice to see a variation of diversity being represented on screen without it being the focal issue of their drama. Honestly, maybe I was so enthralled with the world that I ignored certain signs, but I loved seeing a transgender main character be fully in their transition and be their own person. We spend so much time trying to be politically correct that we forget that as people, at the end of the day, we have our own interests and are dynamic individuals. So if anyone from Hollywood should happen to stumble upon this, please, write more in depth characters and stop having their identity be the only interesting about them, okay? Thanks.
Now, we’ve gotta talk about two prominent characters of this show that never reveal their face. The music and the costuming/makeup. If my makeup skills were on point like Maddy’s or Jules’, I would rock their looks everyday. You can see the freedom that the characters are expressing. You start to notice the pageant background that Maddy has and it makes sense for show stopping eye looks complete with rhinestones and intricate liner designs. Jules is more artistic and draws images around her eyes that show her passion to go to design school and be herself. I still struggle to not fall victim of the raccoon eyeliner look myself. Even the consistent wearing of a red hoodie by Rue is immediately attributed to her post-rehab ways of possibly still holding on to her drug abuse. The thing is, even though you notice these differences amongst the characters, after a while, it becomes a part of the character. It's the scenes where Maddy and Jules are not wearing makeup that I tend to notice a dramatic shift in their emotions. Labrinth, the lead composer for “Euphoria,” crafted intoxicating melodies that set the scenes in such a way that you wished you knew some of these characters in real life. I wanted to go shopping with Kat and be a friend to Cassie. I wanted to be in on the sister jokes between Rue and Gia.
From the trailer, I was hooked. It only debuted in June, but I’ve already watched each episode multiple times. I eagerly await the second season. What I will love, in the same way that “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and “Skins” both do, is how they go there with their story. The actors in “Euphoria” are oftentimes giving genuine performances whether it’s improvising an argument scene that propels the story or honestly responding to a provocative picture. I have tremendous respect for those that worked on this project and am in awe that they balanced the right amount of drama for me to be invested, but not lose sympathy for any of the characters.
*Photo is courtesy of the “Euphoria” Twitter