The Essence of Euphoria

By Joshua Espinoza, Staff Writer

Promotional poster for season 2 of Euphoria.

  Euphoria is an HBO original series that focuses on drug addiction from the teenage point of view. Euphoria’s main character, Rue, suffers from ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. Rue’s drug use began at a young age when she had a panic attack and was given pills to calm down. In season 1 episode 1, Rue states over time drugs were all she wanted so that she could experience just two seconds of nothingness.  

   Throughout the show the audience learns that Rue overdosed the summer before her junior year. Her younger sister, Gia, found her on the ground in her room passed out. She survived the overdose and was sent to rehab for three months, but the day she was released from rehab, Rue finds herself doing drugs once again. 

   Rue is constantly going back to drugs because it is the only thing that has never let her down. Nothing has ever relieved her pain the way drugs did, at least not until Jules, her new friend, enters the scene. Jules was just who Rue needed, but Rue depended on Jules to stay sober and that was her biggest mistake. Although I understand the love she had for Jules, staying sober is a choice that Rue should make for herself.  

Portrayal of Addiction 

   Euphoria highlights the struggles of addiction. Addiction is not just difficult for addicts; it’s just as damaging to the people that love them. Addiction turns people into someone that they are not which makes it hard to keep up with them. Rue’s family are the ones that have to deal with helping her stay clean, helping with her withdrawal symptoms, and even taking her to rehab.  

   Rue, however, believes that her addiction only affects her life; she doesn’t comprehend the suffering and pain that she brings her mother, who constantly worries over Rue’s sobriety and whether or not she is going to make it through the next day.  

 Silver Screen 

   Cinematography in Euphoria helps bring addiction to life. Throughout the show there are constant colors, flashes of light, and even sudden darkness. These elements foreshadow an addict’s perception of reality; addicts are usually unaware of what is really occurring.  

   In season 2 episode 1 there is a moment towards the end of the episode where the directorial choice helps capture the essence of the show.  This scene delivers a glimpse of all the main characters. This scene stays on every character for about 10 seconds before moving on to the next, but each shot is so telling of what that character feels in that point of the show.  

The cast of characters 

   For Rue, she is dealing with relapse after being abandoned by Jules. She deals with uncertainty in her addiction. She finds a way to take drugs without making a scene about it. Since she is hooked on opiates, Rue claims to be taking weed to hide what she is really getting high off of.  

   Jules deals with the guilt of ditching Rue. But she deals with an even bigger guilt, being the reason Rue relapsed. Although it is not Jules’s fault, Rue is too unstable; she is unable to make rational choices. In fact, Jules was the only reason that Rue stayed clean which helped her addiction for some time. At the end of the day, Jules just wanted to go back to normal in her relationship with Rue.  

   Nate is more complicated yet essential to understand Cassie and Maddy. Nate just hooked up with Cassie who just happens to be Maddy’s best friend. At the end of season 1 the audience learns that Maddy stole a tape from Nate’s dad’s, Cal, office. The tape would ruin Cal’s reputation thus embarrassing Nate, just as he always has, or so Nate believes. This causes Nate to walk around eggshells so that Maddy doesn’t release the tape. Hooking up with her best friend probably wasn’t the best idea though because if anything could trigger her, it was that.  

   Cassie is constantly looking for validation. After breaking up with McKay, she found validation within Nate. He made her feel good, but she still feels bad for hooking up with Nate and having to lie to Maddy. Yet, she continues to do it.  

   Maddy is clueless. She is enjoying her life and is unaware of what is going on between her ex-boyfriend and her best friend. She never thought Cassie would do that to her because she was like her sister; and personally, she would never have done that to Cassie. Despite being hurt after finding out, Maddy just wanted to reason with Cassie and understand why she did that to her. She didn’t care about Nate; she cared about her best friend.  

Audience Reception  

   Since its release on HBO, Euphoria has been a hit. The show has been praised for its choices in actors, performances, cinematography, and storytelling. Euphoria has also been very controversial due to its triggering content such as constant nudity and drug use.  

   The article “Euphoria season two review – far too much nudity, sex and violence” published on the website states, “There is so much nudity, so much sex and so much violence; its characters batter each other senseless, mentally, and physically, and the camera lingers on each and every mark.”  

   At the beginning of each episode there is a trigger warning for violence and nudity and viewers should proceed with caution. Even Zendaya, the show’s main actress, advises viewers to watch only if they feel comfortable enough to watch the graphic content. On it also states, “A montage at the start of episode two is borderline unwatchable – a hellish vision of sex, bodies and gore that made me wonder why it felt the need to try so hard. It says a lot that it is a blessed relief when the characters do something as simple as go bowling.” 

Zendaya warning for Euphoria Viewers.

“I know I’ve said this before, but do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences. This season, maybe more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable, Take care of yourself and know that either way you are still loved and I can still feel your support. – All my love, Daya.”

Rue Rue.