HBO can be thought of as the latest Emmy producing machine, considering how Game of Thrones has recently been nominated for 32. Now that Game of Thrones is over, the high-budget TV and movie production company needed a new show to take off, and has now hit another home run with Sam Levinson’s Euphoria. This series has already been thrown around for Emmy considerations, and not for lack of reason.
The show focuses on main character Rue’s struggle with addiction, which she’s had since her early teens. Side plots include sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, drug trafficking, and other R-rated topics. It goes without saying that the show’s content can be triggering for survivors, but it does include a warning before every episode, and has still become the most watched show of the summer.
Other than Zendaya, who plays Rue, most of the other actors on the show are not well known. This, however, says nothing about the exceptional performance of the cast. Alexa Demie, who plays popular cheerleader Maddy, nails the complexities of her character as she navigates an abusive relationship whilst maintaining a “normal” teenage life. Hunter Schafer plays Jules, a transgender girl who’s new in town and suffers from unwarranted attention. Both of these characters are participants in just some of the many amazing storylines interlaced within Euphoria.
The cinematic production of this series is also worthy of discussion in and of itself. The makeup and costume design is unparalleled to any other show. With hints of the 2000s era of bedazzling everything, I looked forward to seeing the characters’ eccentric makeup every week, which ranged from glitter to rhinestones to neon eyeliner, and was perfectly individualized to each character. Barbie Ferreira’s character Kat’s makeup progressed along with her character, becoming more and more bold as she grew to embrace her sexuality. On the other hand, Sydney Sweeney’s character Cassie went from makeup beauty queen to wearing a bare face in the last episode to symbolize her own character development . The costume design is also unique to each of the characters. Rue’s subtle, masculine look matches her reserved demeanor while Jules’ bright and pink look complements her excitable nature. Ultimately, the show’s costume and makeup plays a significant role in expressing the characters’ identities, and bolsters the series’ message about the importance of self-expression.
Another thing worth mentioning is the soundtrack. With songs from popular artists like Megan Thee Stallion, ASAP Ferg, Rosalía, and even Zendaya herself, the soundtrack has gotten plenty of attention. Music plays a central role in Euphoria, elevating the intensity of not only the party scenes, but also the gut-wrenching ones as well, as seen in the series finale flash mob to the tune of All For Us. This soundtrack is curated specifically and strategically for the characters and their dynamics. More than once throughout the series, you’re guaranteed to be shazaming a song from the show.
Overall, Euphoria has encompassed our generation’s mindset and idiosyncrasies in a way that hasn’t been done before. Kind of a modern day Degrassi, Euphoria has references and plot lines that are actually relatable. The series in no way glamorizes drugs or abuse, which was part of the fear some people felt initially. If anything, Euphoria provokes empathy for others and reminds us that we will never truly know the struggles of other people.
Binge watch season one on HBO, all episodes out now.