Euphoria is an American teen drama television series created and written by Sam Levinson for HBO, loosely based on the Israeli miniseries of the same name. Euphoria follows a group of high school students through their experiences of sex, drugs, friendships, love, identity, and trauma.
HBO has built its reputation by screening the most violent and sexual content on our tv screens since the premiere of its first-ever original scripted series Oz. Ever since, it has compiled an awe-inspiring collection of legendary television series such as The Wire, Sex and the City, Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. These are all shows that base themselves in the adult world where breaking the rules isn’t an act of catharsis but is moulded into each character’s life.
In Euphoria, we have a high school coming-of-age story told in a more raw and revealing form than anything ever before. The comparisons to the show Skins (UK) are valid as both bring grit to the teenage experience that reflects their realism. However, Euphoria’s defined style and character-building is what makes this show truly worth the attention that it has garnered.
The drive of the tv show follows the teenage addict Rue, played by the legend herself Zendaya, through her high school journey and her recovery after her overdose. She does seem to be the centre of the show with much of the spotlight reflected on her but what really holds this programme together are the supporting characters and their journeys. With each episode starting with the backstory of one of the supporting cast, their development creates a stronger sense of relatability of the watcher, permitting them to be either inspired or feel more seen.
The LGBTQIA+ representation doesn’t feel like a grasp for performative diversification but simply a part of our characters; Sam Levinson, the director, beautifully constructed this throughout the season. There are no moments where a character’s sexuality is particularly labelled and confined within a box. This would be directly contradicting the free movement of the camera and characters through the most confusing times of their lives.
Our protagonist Rue finds love within the new girl in town which aids with her addiction. The romance is one with so much delicate writing and chemistry that rooting for them is a must. A fan favourite is Jules played by the talented Hunter Schafer. Her character sheds light on her own journey of being trans within her standalone, coronavirus-produced, episode. She additionally gives attention to the grooming problem within gay hookup culture, specifically apps such as Grindr. These LGBTQIA+ characters are written with such intricacy that add to the story rather than supplements it unlike LGBTQIA+ representation in other programmes.
Other characters delve into their sexuality to a much shallower extent, but as a season 2 is pending I hope that they get the arc that has been teased but writing about it now would be a major spoiler.
This show is truly cinematic and has some of the most stunning cinematography in any recent show with a spellbinding cast. Saying that this is one of the most accurate depictions of teenage life feels like a wrong sentence but that is the sole reason why the graphic side of the show works. Euphoria will be a tough watch for most but a necessary one. Telling queer stories in a beautifully constructed light in a sparkly bright world with dark undertones.