Rue (Zendaya) banging on Fez’s door at the last scene of this episode had me in my feelings not because it had any significant reference to my life experience but because not until now I had not seen any TV series or movie portray drug addiction as an illness. It had always been romanticised; and those who suffered from it were cool people who had no layer of empathy imbedded in them. However seeing Rue cry and swallow her anxiety to the point where she solely realised that she indeed needed help and for real this time, it healed my broken heart. The thin layer that connects addiction to denial was explored in this week’s episode of HBO’s drama Euphoria staring Zendaya and a brilliant cast.
For the past three episode of its first season, Rue has been on a serious case of denial. She knows she has a problem but she is not willing to accept that it is a problem she has to solve; she believes the problem will solve itself as days go by because apparently she is a teenager living in a world where things are fucked up for everybody else. And since no one her age is acknowledging it, she does not have to.
It made her convince her family and the people at the support group for addicts that she has been 60 days sober. Everyone, except one. His name is Ali, he was introduced in the previous episode where he shared his own story as an addict. He had been an addict for a long time that it pushed his family away from him. He seems okay now, leaving a clean life and sharing his story with others who are struggling with the same issue. Ali has a keen sense for these things, he knew Rue was lying about being sober. But he was not mad at her, he understands what it means to be an addict. However, he was not cool with her lying in front of an entire crowd of people struggling with addiction that she was clean. He made her realise how dangerous it was to lie especially to her sister who found her on the floor of her room chocking on a pool of pills. Addicts tend to choose denial because they do not want to come to the realisation that they are toying with other people’s emotions especially those who love them. Denial makes addicts tell a convincing story to their loved ones just so they can trust them. However it is all an illusion because when the truth comes out it affects their ability to trust again, it affects their ability to love again.
Rue is not just suffering from addiction, she also struggles from anxiety. And sometimes, addiction also causes anxiety. Rue’s anxiety in this episode stems from the fact that she had an unrequited love for Jules. It was a brand new emotion she was not ready to explore but she had to face it especially when she was sure Jules was being catfished and might be in a real danger with this ‘’SHYGUY118/TYLER/NATE’’. They got into an argument about it because Jules got angry that Rue would not support her quest to find love and acceptance from Tyler. Rue’s apology made me tear up a bit because you could see she was so anxious about losing the only friend she has. And when Jules did not kiss her back (Jules’ shocked face was funny) she lost it leading her to Fez’ door to buy more drugs.
Fez decided not to sell her drugs which led to her erratic bangs on the door and a messy breakdown. This scene has been making twitter users foresee an Emmy award nomination for Zendaya.
They could be right though, we’ll see. It was in that moment of her wallowing in her loneliness when she decided to give Ali a call (he gave her his card to call him when she’s done trying to kill herself). The beauty of this episode was that we are finally get to see a resolution for Rue. Perhaps this is a positive road towards self-acceptance for Rue. But knowing Euphoria, good things do not come easy.
Euphoria airs on HBO every sunday night. But if you’re Nigerian like me, wait till the next day to watch it.