Euphoria Season 1 Recap and Review: The Grit Beneath the Sheen

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Video Source – ONE Media (ONE Media YouTube Channel)

Euphoria has since blurred into a distant memory of over-the-top make-up, dick pics, flashing lights, and Labrinth’s haunting background score. So let’s hit pause, rewind, and quickly run through season 1. 

Euphoria Cast

  • Zendaya as Rue Bennett
  • Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn
  • Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard
  • Jacob Elordi as Nate Jacobs

Euphoria Season 1 Recap and Review

The starved audiences craved a strong teen drama that they could sink their teeth into, and Euphoria was just that. Sam Levinson’s Euphoria shone through amongst the rubble left in the wake of Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why. This was due to its gritty, real, and graphic content against the backdrop of trippy lighting and glittery makeup. Euphoria dealt with tragic plotlines and dark characters where every episode was a cinematic journey.

It was bold, fierce, and fast-paced yet it navigated through character relationships with intricacy only rivalled by written novels. The weaker sections of writing could be forgiven as it was accompanied by camera work that played out like a beautifully choreographed dance. The reality of the show wasn’t grounded in the story as everything was exaggerated but embedded in the relationships and the emotions. The creator himself referred to it as emotional realism.

The surroundings were depicted in a tinted haze through the eyes of the teenagers which translated on the screen. All the emotions, feelings, and trauma experienced by each character were transposed onto the audience. This is what made the show real and so so good, as the audience was forced to feel the characters’ realities, fatalities, and shortcomings. No matter how small or large an event or experience might be, it has a lasting impact on a person’s psyche, and that’s exactly what Euphoria’s character sketches displayed. 

Euphoria was a show based in a town where everything that could go wrong had. It dealt with a lot of problems experienced by Gen Z through the characters who dealt with, drug abuse, manipulation, dating apps, cybersex, self-harm, gender dysphoria, toxic relationships, and absentee parents. Each character had to deal with problems that emerged out of their shortcomings and biases. 

A Deep Dive into Rue, Played by Zendaya

A Deep Dive into Rue, Played by Zendaya

Rue played by Zendaya led the caste with palpable innocence and cynicism all in one breath. She played a teenage drug addict who was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety and is also reeling with depression. Her addiction emerged out of the pills she was prescribed for her various illnesses which were not romanticized but actually displayed through Rue’s narration of events. This narration was erratic, strayed to unnecessary details, and often bizarre.

Much like the final sequence of the finale, where her drug-addled mind broke into a strange music video. Jules a new girl in town helps Rue out of her addiction. Rue’s innocence is highlighted through the way she displays her affection and love for Jules. But when Jules starts to interact outside the universe Rue created, Rue, starts to crumble. The show left Rue at the train tracks as Jules boarded the train as Rue chose to stay back. Rue’s codependence on Jules is another sort of addiction that the writers delve into. 

Jules herself was a transwoman who wanted to explore her sexuality and comprehend her gender dysphoria. Jules wanted to display herself in the most effeminate way possible and stray as far away from her biological gender identity as she could. She did this by sleeping with men and putting herself into precarious situations such as with Nate and Nate’s father. Finally, we see her running away from the town as she was unable to grapple with everything that Nate had put her through and wanted to start afresh. 

Nate had his own set of demons to deal with through his abusive father, and his father’s porn collection that he discovered as a young boy. His father’s porn collection was a set of sex tapes he shot of himself and various other women. Glimpses of his father can be seen through his treatment of women. He hates the world and everyone in it. His toxic relationship with Maddy is where he abuses her, manipulates her, and also forces someone else to take the abuse charge. He also creates a fake online persona to cat-fish Jules with and blackmails her into lying to the police so he doesn’t get into trouble for beating Maddy up. Nate threatens Fez, Rue, Jules, and Maddy and is yet to show any redeeming quality. If anything good came out of the finale was that Nate and Maddy broke up for good. 

Fez was Rue’s drug dealer and friend. Through the season you can see his dilemma over this as he enables Rue’s addiction and doesn’t want to as well. In a heartbreaking scene, Fez can be seen indoors as Rue begs for drugs and blames Fez for her addiction. Fez treats Rue like a younger sister and threatens Nate for her. In retaliation, Nate calls the police on him, forcing Fez to flush his stash. Fez resorts to robbery in the finale and is seen in a violent altercation with his boss ‘Mouse.’ The finale ends with a gun on Fez’s head and left everyone gasping and scared. If somebody still liked Nate by some freak accident, they didn’t anymore. 

Kat played an oversized teenager who wrote One Direction smut online and then slowly started exploring her sexuality through web-camming. Through the webcam and the validation of strangers online learned to love and accept herself. She went on a journey and found herself, Ethan, this was one of the purest moments of happiness in Euphoria which hasn’t been tainted yet. Cassie was the sweet girl next door who was heavily sexualized because of the way she looked. She often found herself in uncomfortable sexual experiences that she had to go along with because of the persona guys had created of her. In the finale we find her getting an abortion after she gets pregnant with High School football star Chris Mckay’s child. 

The Two Bridge Episodes of Euphoria

The inner workings of the characters and the character arcs were furthered in the two bridge episodes, Trouble Don’t Last Always and F*ck Anyone Whose Not A Sea Blob. They respectively dealt with Rue and Jules’s characters after the season 1 finale. These episodes were simple yet displayed some of the strongest writing in the entire show. They dealt with the inner demons of Rue and Jules. Zendayas’ Rue was impeccable and drew you into the conversation between her and her NA sponsor. In the constraints of the pandemic, it was shot primarily in a diner over Christmas dinner.

It held the dreariness, and monotony that weighed over a lot of individuals over the course of the pandemic. Rue’s need to attain those few moments of Euphoria was also understood as it was revealed that she was suicidal. Jules on the other hand sat through a therapy session and we learned of her state of mind. We learned that she was still in love with the online persona Nate had created and that her mother was also an addict, this conversation with her therapist helped break the Manic Pixie Dream Girl aesthetic which Jules’ character was being trapped under. 

The Movie Culture Synopsis

I think after this, there are a bunch of unanswered questions that will all be answered luckily soon as Season 2 Episode 1 is already out, and it’s darker, sadder, and even more Euphoric than season 1!

Author

  • Arzoo passes her time binge-watching reality TV and saying it's research for her Sociology degree. She loves the genres of comedy and drama. She longs to write a show with the layer, intricacy, and brilliance of Arrested Development.