Part I – Before the Episode
“You know that show with Zendaya and high school where everyone dresses edgy and there’s all the penises you could see?” “Do you mean Euphoria?” “Yeah.”
I haven’t seen the show, but if I had to describe it to someone based on what I’ve seen of it, I’d call it the show where “everyone dresses edgy and there are plenty of penises for your arousal.” Whenever shows become the newest big thing, I don’t usually rush to watch it right away, instead taking my sweet time. I literally just finished “Squid Game” as I came back to campus at the end of last month. As for how fire it was, on a scale of match to wildfire, I’d say it was a strong campfire and maybe, just maybe, a dumpster fire.
However, Euphoria is the show that I keep hearing about, and I just can’t escape the memes. Look at this:
Look how they massacred my boy.
Walter White, a man who was the center of one of the best and badass tv stories has been reduced to this. He has been yassified. Never have I ever seen such tomfoolery before.
The top comment is literally “But where’s the matching mini purse.” I scroll down and I see “sorry. Mommy? Sorry. mommy?” Need I say more? I swear these kids are supposed to be like 17.
I finally decided to give the show a watch like my employee is retiring. I prayed that the show would be more than pronoun pills and yassification. Little did I know that it was about a different kind of pills. So with free time, and Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar in hand (shameless plug intended) I watched the first episode. I saw the ratings for violence, nudity and strong sexual content and knew I was in for a REAL treat. The main protagonist is Rue (Zendaya), and I’d Rue the day that … I’ll stop.
Part II – Thoughts on episode one
Within the first few minutes of the episode, I saw myself in Rue. I grew up in a solid home with loving parents, and didn’t experience any traumas or any other major hardships. My childhood wasn’t all that remarkable, which is why I took a liking to Rue, and it is because I saw myself in her that I found it easier to understand her. I grew up with severe asthma which got in the way of my life, and I found myself able to compare my asthma to her anxiety to an extent.
As expected, Rue is not perfect as she recently spent time in rehab against a drug addiction, which turns out to not be time effectively used, as she goes back to the drugs. It’s her carefree attitude and perspective that “the world’s coming to an end” which explains her lack of ambition that makes her character feel open and accessible to many teenagers who aren’t in the most favorable circumstances and not sure what to do with themselves. She even dresses like she doesn’t care, with messy hair and not so put together clothes.
Among the other characters, we have Nate (Jacob Elordi), an all-American douchebag whose personality seems to indicate an insecurity or less than glamorous life at home. It’s giving “daddy works all day and mom doesn’t pay any attention to me.” Like a foil to Nate is his boy McKay (Algee Smith), who is typically in the passenger seat in more ways than one. There is also Jules (Hunter Schafer), a transgender girl whose demons lie under being in the middle of a rough divorce. Lexi (Maude Apatow) is, according to Rue, the closest thing she has to a best friend, with a home life that is the opposite of Rue’s. In addition, the episode also introduces Kat (Barbie Ferreira), a seemingly “straightedge” who is constantly ridiculed by others because of her “purity.” I can appreciate this diverse cast of characters that are meant to capture a good amount of the varying personality types of teens.
During the episode, Jules links up with a stranger she met on a dating app and lies about her age which leads to her statutory rape. Especially considering that Jules’ father had no idea what she was going to do, I perceive this encounter as a message from the writers as to the dangers teenagers get involved with when left to their own devices. This is also indicative of them trying to live life on their own terms.
The main event of this episode is the party that Nate convinces McKay to have at the latter’s house, where all of the actions of the characters are indicative of their motivations and characteristics. Nate, for example, has his shirt off the entire time which expresses a constant need to radiate an aura of dominance. He even angrily kicks people out of his kitchen once his ex-girlfriend Maddy (Alexa Demie) succeeds in making him jealous by having sex with someone else. Even here, thanks to pressure and condescending by McKay’s brothers, Kat breaks free of her restraint and has sex for the first time. Speaking of sex, McKay has an initially awkward encounter with Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), who is Lexi’s sister. Cassie’s nudes were leaked and McKay, being the foil to Nate he is, compliments her, and they have sex, though it was like sexual assault at one point.
However, there were some gripes I had with the episode. What I’ve seen of some of the characters comes off as cliche. Nate’s personality for example reminds me of a typical Disney high school bully. Even the scenes where Nate and Maddy were trying to get back at one another took away from the seriousness of the show in my opinion. It also felt like a Disney movie scene. It led me to wonder if a scene of Rue’s younger sister witnessing her overdose, as traumatic as that was, and Nate and Maddy trying to make each other jealous at a typical high school party, were meant to be in the same show. With the themes that Euphoria touches on, I feel inclined to take it seriously. I also have no idea why McKay puts up with Nate, but I am optimistic that this is something that is explored in future episodes.
To be honest, I noticed a stark difference between my feelings before and after watching the episode. I’m inclined to take away the thoughts of “pronoun pills” and “yassification” and take away from the episode that it tells a story of high schoolers who aren’t perfect and are struggling to figure out who they want to be. This is no longer the show where “everyone dresses like sluts and is full of penises”, but the show where everyone dresses like the person they find comfort in being, even if it’s for the worse. I’ll give it an 8.5/10, and I look forward to watching more Euphoria.