Branded as the ‘Show of the Summer,’ I admit I am a little late to the Euphoria band wagon, but I’m so glad I decided to watch the series! HBO series Euphoria captures the mood of the millennial perfectly, with its jarring representation of American teenage reality. Creator Sam Levison, has developed a storyline that takes viewers on the emotional journey of each character as they navigate their way through drugs, trauma, toxic masculinity and sexuality. Somewhat exaggerated yet painfully realistic, the dreamlike world Euphoria is based within highlights the many diverse issues that young people deal with today.
The stand out feature of the series is the cast of talented actors who embody the painfully confusing and transformative period of adolescence. Levison portrays characters in such a way that it is impossible and yet unavoidable to judge them from first impression. Each episode is integral to each character’s story and allows the viewers to understand what exactly has led them to become who they are.
Former Disney channel star Zendaya plays Rue, a drug addict and the narrator of the show. Her character is as easy to love as she is to resent. On the surface Rue is selfish, unapologetic and inconsiderate. Yet as the series progresses, we learn she is dealing with the death of her father and severe anxiety. The striking portrayal of both the euphoric and deeply miserable moments of drug abuse, is refreshing, raw and sometimes difficult to watch. Breakout star, Hunter Schafer plays Jules, a transgender girl who starts school in the town following the divorce of her parents. Jules is confident, unapologetic and incredibly complex. Hunter’s performance as Jules is both empowering and heartbreaking at the very same time.
Every scene is carefully crafted to be visually masterful, with Levison describing the idea behind the cinematography as emotional realism. Spinning rooms, a moody colour scheme and a set completely designed from scratch; Euphoria creates the ultimate claustrophobic world for the characters to live in.
Each episode is accompanied by music from British artist, Labrinth. His haunting vocals and perfectly concieved melodies are essential to the show’s success. Tracks such as ‘When I RIP’ capture Rue’s self-destruction as she struggles with drug relapse, while ‘We All Knew’ features soft whisper-like melodies that could make you well up even on your happiest day.
Another stand out feature of the show is the costume and makeup design. Each look is expressive and daring, something my teenage self could only dream of having attended a strict uniform obsessed school. Rhinestones, bright eyeshadow and multi-dimensional outfits contribute to the idea that Levison has created an alternate reality for teenagers. A reality where fashion and makeup are used as a genuine form of expression rather than a way to blend in with the crowd. The looks served from Maddy, Jules and Kat will have you resenting your wardrobe of denim and plain sweaters and itching the get your hands-on turquoise eyeshadow and anything sparkly.
The first season left me yearning for more, however I admire Levison’s ability to deliver such an impactful social statement in just 8 hours. Not shying away from the often-harsh realities of teenage life, Euphoria could just be the show to define a generation.
Words by Neesha Sinnya.