Updated: Dec 6, 2020
As a fan of any form of material that's presented to rattle the world, be it through music, art, film or writing; I'm always in awe of how so close to reality things can appear. Making a series like Euphoria comes with the responsibility that it must be relatable to one's life. As I watched Euphoria in its entirety (shamelessly binge-watched over three days, some I know, have done it in a day and a half), I could at times sympathise with Rue's life choices.
A complex character, and a victim to some trauma in her life. I found her on-screen presence exhilarating yet frightful as her inability to fight her demons were too prevalent on-screen. We're fully aware of the happenings in one's teenage years, no matter where in the world you reside. Sexual realisations, drug and alcohol intake, those ever so rebellious years that as a parent, you fear will steer your child down some dark roads. What I do adore about the harshness of such a show is that it isn't afraid to show real-life scenarios. All that unfolds could actually be happening anywhere. Of course, many aspects are exaggerated, but the point is that life isn't as black and white as some other TV shows may give out—especially sexuality.
Sexuality, preference and gender roles are on a spectrum. With so many identities in the world, we really are becoming the most complex species on the planet. Thoughts are never the same nor desires or opinions. There's only a handful of main characters in Euphoria, but more than a million identities cross my imagination when I properly think about feelings and choices made by said characters. Underneath all the comical notes of the series, lies a dark plot. Rue is a complex identity. Her father's battle with cancer, leading to her experimenting with his prescribed drugs, which opened the gateway to all kinds of drugs. With each high, she would feel indifferent and walk-in limbo for days on end, her thoughts and world clearly hallucinated.
What I asked myself repeatedly was, why? Why the need to feel nothing but this numbing Euphoria? Drug addicts chase highs for days on end because it's their perceived "normal "state of mind. Rue goes through a very well documented pulse of hallucinations, dizzying thoughts and paranoia only to bring a come down that brings her false world crashing down. Whilst sober, she finds herself unwanted. But I wondered, how can someone despise themselves so much, that they'd take anything to not feel anything at all? It's all tough to watch unfold when her character is someone we grow to like, because of her style, attitude to life and humour.
Clearly, I do not know enough about drugs. I have never experienced anything like Rue has, who even almost OD's which should be a big incentive for her to get clean. It's a frustrating sight to see because you can see her potential for an ordinary life but, Rue's no ordinary person and anything ordinary would be all too predictable for this series.
Without wanting to dissect the entire series, I took three elements of this series - Music, Cinematography and the Characters. These three elements together give you Euphoria. What I would like to do is pull apart all three of these elements and see how each can play a part in my own day to day life.
The music is exhilarating, pulsating and at times, almost horrifying. Labrinth's voice is exciting because it occurs in those key moments where a decisive choice is going to be made. I can pull it away from the series and place it in my own life, as I listen to the entire soundtrack on the train contemplating my own life choices. Instead of Euphoria, I would listen to the soundtracks playing alongside my own reality. Pulling it aside from the series, meant I gave the sounds and lyrics new meaning. No longer associated with drugs, sex and blackmail… I used it for creative thought processing and self-reflection. The world I can create in my head is nothing close to what the music was initially intended for. That's what I love about this soundtrack and other great soundtracks, it's ability to be present in everyday life, aside from its intended medium. You see Euphoria isn't just a series, it's a world of different elements. The standout track to the series for me would be the final scene in the last episode. Zendaya's voice is soulful, and Labrinth provides much harmony, making it a match made in heaven. Lyrically, the track gives me the last man standing but going down fighting type of motivation.
The cinematic aspect is by far one of the most exciting of any series I've ever watched. How a show displays its dark and unholy context through angles, lighting, camera tricks and effects, is very important for this delicate piece of storytelling. Directors have an important job, not only to convey the story in a limited time but to pay attention to the viewer's needs. They want it to be thrilling, not too over complicated but also pleasing to the eye. Euphoria took it to the next level with its production. We found ourselves mesmerised by the world through Rue's eyes but also from a bird's eye view of everything else going on around her. The stillness in some scenes and to see how the world moved so slow for Rue. I could write a four-page essay on the closing scene alone, Rue's Relapse (I won't but here's a snippet).
Never have I sat so still throughout a scene. To say perfect would-be dead-on right. If you wanted a perfect ending, the bittersweetness of this one would drive you mad. Yes, Rue relapses. Frustrating as it is, the drugs win. The darkness surrounding her and uplifting her is the high. The bodies pushing and pulling her through this scene are to represent those lost to the drugs. Ultimately, acting as ghosts in this scene, they use Rue's body as a metaphor for the state between life and limbo. Not exactly afterlife, but as close to death as one can get. Put that feeling into your own perspective, and I'm sure you can draw a comparison to your own intake of drugs or alcohol. Ever been so high/drunk that it felt like you were no longer in control of your own body? It's numbing to watch it unfold, but it's a reality that many people are all too familiar with. That's why it's horrifying yet so exhilarating to watch. It's this aspect that makes the shows ending a very emotionally powerful hitting you right in the feels. Notably, the POV scenes showing Rue's take on reality whilst high on drugs.
The characters in Euphoria are a vibrant, sometimes wild but very relatable bunch. Earlier I spoke about the sexuality aspect being so well touched upon, and I feel that the series identifies with a lot of people because of this subject. Of course, character building and profiling is such a huge aspect of any series. Here, you can fall in love with every character for right or sometimes even the wrong reasons. Now, if you were to pull these individual identities away from Euphoria, I can see these characteristics in people I know in real life. The closeness to reality still amazes me. Alongside Zendaya, Hunter Schafer stands out as an amazing actress. Her character, Jules, shows the fragility and eventually the courage and confidence, bringing her character arc to a reasonable place. Although having to be there for Rue and her demons, she often doesn't acknowledge her own. Usually, choosing to help others instead of addressing her own life. Occasionally flipping out and overdoing the rebellious 'fuck it' life choices still making her a powerful identifiable character.
I began writing this piece as an expressive view. At times, this may seem like a review. Although it isn't meant to be seen as a review piece, it is best read after you've already seen the series. Its intention is not to explain what exactly happens in Euphoria but to breakdown the elements of the series and explain how they have influenced me to feel things differently. What shows like Euphoria touch on, is that there should be no shame in going through whatever you are going through. At times, own those moments, don't let them control you because ultimately, we all are still finding our place in this world.
Catch Euphoria's first special episode on the 6th of December.