DISCLAIMER: THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS OF THE PILOT EPISODE OF EUPHORIA SEASON 1. BUT IF YOU WERE LOOKING FOR AN HONEST REVIEW BEFORE DOWNLOADING IT, KEEP READING.
I’m not a critic but a TV enthusiast who has too much time on her hands.
Lord! There are so many things to unpack from that dreamy episode. So allow me break it down for you. After watching this, you’d agree that it was a different and raw depiction of high school on TV; a pattern that has been noticeable since series like 13 REASONS WHY, BOOKSMART & SEX EDUCATION came along.
Euphoria follows the lives of these teenagers and trying to navigate this world but from their perspectives.
HBO has been putting out a lot of great content lately, from the final season of GAME OF THRONES to the second season BIG LITTLE LIES. I talk about these series and sacrifice a lot of my internet Data to them that I figured I might as well start writing about them.
My twitter had been filled with inner thoughts of how I felt about those series and some part of me had always wanted to quit reading other people’s reviews and recaps and begin to write my own, specifically for a certain audience.
Euphoria was my ticket to begin this experiment of mine and after watching its trailer on YouTube last month, I knew I had to add it my collection of TV series to watch. And that was the most beautiful part of this pilot — it was fun to watch. Considering the fact that it carried a lot of heavy themes and subject matters, it was not all-over-your-face kinda story but it was also not trying to sugarcoat any of these issues. It was subtle and honest right from the first scene to the last all thanks to a richly written characters and a brilliant cast.
Here’s a breakdown of the main characters and how they navigated through this first episode which was centered around the night of a party.
Euphoria packs a punch with stellar performances from Zendaya portraying Rue the narrator who was diagnosed from an early age with obsessive compulsive disorder, general anxiety disorder and possibly bipolar disorder. It affected Rue’s experiences in middle school; always finding the world closing in on her and making it difficult for her to the simplest thing as breathing. Rue’s mind paints the unruly picture of a teenager suffering from anxiety disorder, who wishes for anything to remain in a place where she can hear herself breathe without the outside world yelling at her. And so she opted into drugs; which seemed at first like she was taking her medication and staying healthy. However, swallowing one to many pills just to remain in that euphoric state of quiet led her to a drug overdose which could have been worse if not for a timely intervention of her baby sister (Storm Reid).
Rue’s days at the Rehab only taught her to smile through it all and return home to an expectant mother and sister who thought she was going to remain clean. Rue had other plans. She returned to her drug dealer — a tall young man who kind of reminded me of Mac Miller — to buy more pills plus a psychedelic drug that was promised to be the shit!
The most important part of this scene was where she made the audience know of her agenda. It made me realize how fucked up mental illness can be. Sometimes help isn’t always enough especially if the person who needs help isn’t ready to accept it. Perhaps Rue knows what she’s doing but she has no idea how to stop it. Perhaps she knows she understands how death works and she’s reaching for it to find solace in her grief for her dad’s death and her mental disorders. She believes these pills are her only chance to stay sane and keep the world quiet. Poor Rue.
Her mum sort of saw through this facade eventually and forced her to take a drug test. Rue had no choice to sneak out and ask her childhood friend Lexi for clean urine. Lexi even though they had been distant over the years agreed to it, Rue waited at their dining table with Lexi’s older sister Cassie and Mum making small talks. She passed the drug test and asked her mum if she could stay the night at Lexi’s place. Her mum agreed not knowing Rue was going to the party at The McKay’s.
On the other side of this story was Jules (a character I am sure I will stan as this series evolves) a transgender who was new to town. Her first introduction was her riding a bike down the street starring at Rue who was sitting on the backseat of her mum’s car on their way from Rehab. Jules moved from the city to the suburbs with her dad after a supposedly nasty divorce between her parents. She made friends with another character Katherine “Kat” (Barbra Ferreira) during summer school. While she was riding her bike home, she got harassed by Nate — a handsome asshole who tried to finger Rue back in Freshman Year. Though injured, she made her way home and received a text from Kat who asked her to come for a party at the McKay’s. She replied her “maybe” because she had other plans. Jules had a date/hookup with a guy whom she hadn’t met before and she decided to go alone. I had to say watching her ride her bike at night to an unknown location made me nervous. Eventually she reached a motel and there was this older man whom she lied about her age to telling her how much he envied her generation.
“You guys don’t care much about the rules…” he said, running his fingers through her hair and then forcing his thumb down Jules’ throat.
The sex happened so quickly and I admired how unhinged the cinematography was. We could see how uncomfortable Jules was through it all, and this strange man whose username on the dating app was “DominantDaddy” was actually a family man with a wife and kids.
Jules decided to ditch him and bike over to McKay’s party.
Kat, a plus-sized beautiful girl who I presume worried about what people thinks of her and who she should be. She was a virgin — a secret only known to her closest friends Maddy and Jules — but she built a defensive but not very effective wall around herself. A wall that soon came crashing down at the McKay’s party when a guy confronted her about her sexuality and whether or not she was a virgin. Oh! She later lost her virginity to him that same night but I feel that’s just the beginning of her story about self-image and confidence.
Kat is friends with Maddy, a beautiful skinny girl who I think might be suffering from body dysmorphia. She starred at her flat stomach and perky breasts in the mirror and kept lamenting about how “ugly” she looked specifically because her ex-boyfriend always told her she looked ugly. Her plan though was to make him jealous at the party at McKay by having sex with a random guy in the pool. She got the attention she wanted especially since her boyfriend Nate (that elder brother from The Kissing Booth) got angry and took it out on everyone at the party especially Jules.
It was at his parents’ house the party was held.
Nate was driving with his friend Chris Mckay while he harassed Jules on the bike. They decided to throw a party at his house that evening. At the house, Nate tells their other friends that Chris was seeing an older girl who’s called Cassie. Remember Cassie? Lexi’s older sister — who made Rue pass the drug test. Nate and his other friends made fun of Chris for dating Cassie because apparently she had her nudes leaked online which equates to her being a slut. Nate and Chris’s younger brother told Chris to sleep with her and then dump her. However, I have a feeling Chris intends to be different because he likes Cassie. Even at his failed attempt to convince his friends about his feelings for Cassie, he and Cassie hooked up at the party. He scene depicted how teenagers had zero knowledge about sex and its body language because they all got their information from porn whose depiction of sex was not enough. He began to choke Cassie and act all “masculine” thinking this was how he was supposed to have sex with a woman. Cassie stopped him and told him not to do it again. He apologized and then they slowly began to learn about each other’s bodies through lovemaking.
Nate is that asshole whom I presumed masks his insecurities with his cruelty to other people. His story is connected to Chris’, Maddy’s and Jules’. After threatened by Jules with a knife, he drove home drunk and ashamed. His sloppy steps towards the staircase brought to the show’s cliffhanger. Nate is the son of DominantDaddy — you know the strange older man whom Jukes hooked up with at the motel.
And just like Rue said, “Remember when I said things are about to get weird?…Yeah?”.
The night of the party brought conflicts and resolutions to some of the character in this pilot episode, especially for Rue and Jules whom got acquainted after the knife show with Nate. Jules biked down to her house with Rue behind her with a feeling of calmness and happiness — the first we’ve seen her all through this episode. I am very certain this will start a new friendship and hopefully a journey through soberness for Rue. Or not.
This is just the beginning. I’m really excited about this new show and I am going to divulge more rants on my Twitter page @blackprowriter.
Euphoria airs every Sunday on HBO!
See you next week!