Is HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ Worth the Hype?
By: Lauryn Jiles
Since Euphoria first aired on HBO last year, the show has gained extreme popularity among teenagers and young adults. Euphoria follows Rue Bennett (played by actress and singer, Zendaya), a 17-year-old battling drug addiction while dealing with the pressures of becoming a young adult.
The series was created by Sam Levinson, with rapper and former Degrassi star, Drake as the executive producer. Euphoria highlights the reality of what many teenagers and young adults go through, with topics such as addiction, sexuality, abuse, rape, social media, abortion, and more.
So is Euphoria worth the hype? Short answer, yes it is, and we’ve compiled a list of reasons why.
The first episode follows the protagonist, Rue Bennett, a 17-year-old straight out of rehab, who meets Jules (played by Hunter Schafer), a transgender girl who has a hard time fitting in. Euphoria is described as similar to the popular U.K series, Skins, giving each character their own episode, and showing their experiences in life up until high school/college.
Aside from Rue and Jules, the series also follows Nate, a football player who is insecure about his sexuality and dealing with abuse from his father. Maddy is in an abusive relationship with Nate. Fez is a drug dealer and Rue’s best friend. Cassie is trying to escape the decisions she made in her past, while her boyfriend Chris is struggling to be a college football player, and Kat is exploring her sexuality while dealing with insecurities stemming from her weight.
The storyline for Euphoria and each character arch is well written, capturing the reality of difficult topics that many television shows are afraid to tackle. Sam Levinson, the creator of Euphoria, based Rue on his own experiences and battle with addiction. In an interview on the Euphoria youtube channel, Levinson and Zendaya talk about pushing certain topics and being open about drug use, sex, anxiety, and more while grappling with the joy, pain, trauma, and the good and the bad of becoming an adult.
Soundtrack and cinematography
With a soundtrack produced by Labrinth, the music in Euphoria gives off an emotional realism, helping viewers connect with the characters and understand their backstories. Throughout the show, you can hear some songs from the soundtrack playing in the background. Each character has a certain song played in the background of their backstory to show the raw and emotional element of their character. Each scene is elevated with calm or intense music to represent the emotional aspect of the scene.
In an interview on the Euphoria youtube channel, Labrinth states that his influence for the score in Euphoria is from classic rock, orchestra, and hip hop. The composer used different elements to figure out the sound that he wanted to do for the show, using his music as a way to elevate every scene in the show.
“There is this kind of hopefulness to his music that feels triumphant and serves as kind of a Northstar for the series itself. Labrinth’s score was just better than I could ever dream of.”— Creator, Sam Levinson on Labrinth for HBO’s Euphoria
The cinematography in Euphoria was unlike any television show that I’ve ever seen. While the show mainly used shades of purple throughout the series and on the promotional poster, they also used shades of pink, blue, and green to represent how a character is feeling and the chaos that surrounds them. Some of the most well-known shots from the show are the “two minutes of nothing” shot in the first episode, which switches between a variety of colors to represent Rue’s addiction and the shot of Jules standing outside of the sunroof of a moving car that is driving through the city.
Fashion and makeup
The fashion and makeup are probably some of the most talked-about aspects of the show. Fans of the show have taken to social media apps such as Tik Tok and Instagram, to create looks based on their favorite characters.
After Euphoria aired, many fans were frantically searching for the outfits used on the show. The costume designer, Heidi Bivens gave each character clothing that represented them and their interests. While most of the character’s fashions are y2k inspired, you’ll find elements of goth fashion, athletic wear, and more. Many of the outfits in the show are available for purchase on sites like I Am Gia, Realisation, and Dollskill.
With glittery makeup looks from the makeup brand Lemonhead, Euphoria makeup artist, Doniella Davy, captivated fans, giving each character a signature makeup look. From neon eyeliner to colorful eyeshadow and dark makeup, each character has multiple looks that represent their journey and personality.
Zendaya puts on a phenomenal performance of Rue, capturing the trials and tribulations of a teenager dealing with addiction amongst other issues. Jacob Elordi puts on an incredible performance playing Nate, who is somewhat seen as the villain of the show, capturing the effects of abuse in the home. The actor was so passionate about his performance that he suffered a concussion filming one of the scenes in the last episode.
For Hunter Schafer (Jules Vaughn) and Barbie Ferreira (Kat Hernandez), this was their first acting project. The two models turned actresses worked with the writers of the show, creating a storyline that was loosely based on their own life experiences. Algee Smith (Chris McKay) and Sydney Sweeney (Cassie Howard) completely kill it in their own characters’ episodes, as well as Alexa Demie (Maddy Perez) throughout the series.
Euphoria is coming for all the awards with multiple Emmy nominations for the acting, composition, costumes, and more. Zendaya has also been nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series, making this her first nomination.