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Unless you have zero access to any form of social media, you have by now most likely heard of the HBO show Euphoria. The show follows 17-year-old Rue Bennett as she comes home straight out of rehab following an overdose. This rehab treatment does not mean she stayed clean. In fact, she was far from it. The first season follows Rue’s road to recovery as she falls in love with her new best friend, Jules. However, the show is about more than just Rue. Episodes delve deep into the other characters and their own internal and external issues. With everybody talking about this show it is easy for one to ask themselves, “Is this show really worth the hype?” Answer–YES! If you are debating whether or not you should give this show a shot, I have compiled a list of reasons on why you should. 

Makeup and Clothing

One of the most iconic aspects of the show is undoubtedly the attention to the clothing and makeup. Euphoria’s makeup artist, Doniella Davy, uses various colors and styles of makeup to emphasize each character’s personality. For instance Rue, one of the more reserved characters on the show, is typically seen with simple makeup or none at all. However, Maddy, who is arguably the most ostentatious character, is always seen with a bold makeup design. The artists also show the development of the characters through their clothes and makeup. As the character Kat gains confidence throughout season one, her clothes and makeup become more vibrant with gothic elements. Clothing in later episodes even shows parallels to Romeo and Juliet as well as Bonnie and Clyde to symbolize the nature of Rue and Jule’s relationship at the end of the season. Everyone has their own signature look, and the symbolism and attention to detail helps illustrate the life of a teenager–a time when you feel invincible while simultaneously trying to uncover your identity. 

Cinematography

Seeing that Euphoria is produced by HBO, the same platform that produced Game of Thrones, it is not surprising to see how each episode is treated like its own movie. The writer and director, Sam Levinson, decided to film many of the scenes on soundstage in order to create particular framing shots that not only grabs the audiences’ attention, but it helps emphasize the theme of emotional realism. Teenagers often live in a sort of fantasy, and the framing, color grading, and score composition illustrate that in an intricate, beautiful way. Color grading is often dark and gloomy, but there are always hints of ambient colors reflecting on the characters’ skin. The score is composed by singer-songwriter Labrinth. Through his use of rap, electronic, and classical music elements, he sets the tone for the whole show. There are repeated sounds used for symbolic purposes, and even with so few lyrics, the music holds such weight and is easily recognizable. 

The Importance of the Plotline

There is a great deal of controversy about the plotline of Euphoria and whether or not it glamorizes the world of addiction. However, when we watch the show we must remember that we are watching through the eyes of an addict. The director himself even says Rue can be an unreliable narrator. While the show depicts Rue’s euphoric emotions while she’s on drugs through its script and cinematography, they do this to emphasize why it is so hard for her to quit. Rue has never felt better than when she is on drugs, but she has also never felt worse than when she’s without them. She hates her reality and uses drugs as her escape. Despite these depictions, the show does not shy away from how drugs make Rue the worst version of herself. She lies to everyone around her and sometimes even gets aggressive. Zendaya stunningly finds a way to make us love Rue and hate her at the same time, because at the end of the day there is still a person behind that addiction crying for help. At the beginning of every episode there is a backstory on a different character. This forces the audience to reevaluate their initial perspective and gain a sense of empathy for even the most vile characters. It makes you learn to not be so quick to judge–that while everyone in your life is just a side character in your movie, they have their own shit going on too. 

If you are in a healthy mental capacity, and the dark themes of this show are not triggering for you, then I highly recommend you give this show a shot. Every aspect of it is intentional and thought provoking. Euphoria will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. It has changed the way I see drug addiction, depression, family quarrel, and my overall values. Season two just started airing, and something tells me it’s only going to get better.

Casey Norei Funderburk is a sophomore Psychology and Theatre Arts double major at Furman University. Aside from being a writer for HerCampus, Casey is also part of The Shucker Leadership Institute, Hearst Fellows, Chi Omega Sorority, and is a Writing and Media Lab consultant. She hopes to one day run her own drama therapy recreational center to help the social skills for kids on the spectrum!
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