Pros: Impressive performances from Zendaya and Hunter Schafer; provocative topics; lush picture in the spirit of Nicolas Winding Refn; gorgeous soundtrack Cons: Overabundance of male penises on screen; somewhat secondary to the Netflix series Euphoria / “Euphoria”
Genre youth drama
Creator Sam Levinson
Cast: Zendaya (Rue Bennett), Hunter Schafer (Jules Vaughn), Jacob Elordi (Nate Jacobs), Alexa Demie (Maddie Perez), Algee Smith (Chris McKay), Sydney Sweeney (Cassie Howard), Barbie Ferreira (Katherine “Kat” Hernandez), Eric Dane (Cal Jacobs), etc.
Year of release 2019
Euphoria tells the story of seventeen-year-old Rue Bennett living in a small American town and her classmates exploring the world of sex, alcohol and drugs. Basically, Euphoria is 13 Reasons Why + Sex Education + How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) in one bottle. Interestingly, HBO’s Euphoria is actually a remake of the 2012 Israeli series of the same name, which appeared much earlier than the Netflix projects mentioned above.
Roo Bennett returns home from rehab. The girl has serious problems with drugs, but after treatment she has no plans to quit and first of all goes to her dealer. Ru creatively kills himself until he meets a new girl who has moved to their town – Jules. Very quickly, Roo develops a new addiction, an addiction to Jules.
Jules has her own cockroaches in her head – the girl is addicted to sex. She is looking for random partners using a special application, trying to prove to herself and the whole world that she is a real woman. Naturally, Jules often finds himself in not the most pleasant situations.
Friends Rue and Jules are also not doing well. Kat is embarrassed by her own fatness… until she discovers PornoHub and the fact that fat women can be attractive and desirable too. Maddie loves and hates her boyfriend Nate, who is prone to fits of anger and is sometimes cruel. Cassie is in love with Chris, but suffers from several obscene videos of her that have leaked online. Chris… Well, you already understand, all schoolchildren have problems, and when a tangle of mutual claims, connections, love and hatred begins to twist, it does not lead to anything good. Amidst all the chaos, only Ru seems to find peace, but how stable is her condition? How much stronger is her dependence on Jules than her drug addiction?
Euphoria has plenty of provocative content. Sex between minors and adults, violence, drugs, sexual identity issues, etc. On the other hand, so many TV series and films on youth themes have been released recently that Euphoria is unlikely to tell or show you anything new. And yes, if you have trouble accepting non-binary sexual orientation, you probably shouldn’t watch this show.
The main advantage of Euphoria is the acting ensemble and the selection of performers for the main roles. Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man: Homecoming) has already proven that she knows how to play, including quite serious roles; her work in Euphoria only secured the girl the title of one of the most promising actresses of the new generations. But Hunter Schafer is the real discovery of the series. This is Hunter’s first film role, a popular model and LGBT activist, and her work is truly impressive. The way the girls got used to their roles literally gave me goosebumps. Plus, there really is some special chemistry between them.
In addition, I would like to draw attention to Barbie Ferreira, who plays the role of Kat Hernandez. Barbie is a plus-size model who has starred for Aerie, Adidas, Asos, Forever 21, H&M, etc., and she is not at all shy about her curves and proves that girls who don’t meet conventional beauty standards can also be sexy.
In the original Israeli series there were practically no adults, and if they appeared, it was only from angles in which their faces were not visible. The American version of Euphoria has a few adult characters, but most of them play minor roles, with the possible exception of Eric Dane’s character.
The second big plus of the series is the impressive work of the production designers and cinematographer. The picture in Euphoria is sometimes very reminiscent of the works of Nicolas Winding Refn (The Neon Demon, Too Old to Die Young) – it is bright, oversaturated with neon, color contrasts and very psychedelic. In addition, the staging of some episodes, such as a party or a fair, pleases with interesting camera solutions – smooth transitions between scenes simulating shooting with one camera, switching between characters intersecting with each other, simply beautiful plans. Some scenes literally make you want to cut them into separate frames and use them as posters for interior decoration.
Euphoria has plenty of erotic scenes, but for some inexplicable reason, show creator Sam Levinson (Another Happy Day, Assassination Nation) is obsessed with some kind of obsessive obsession with male exhibitionism. If the women in the series almost never undress completely, then the number of male penises literally dazzles the eyes. Yes, let’s say, the theme with “dick peaks” is played out well here, but in general the degree of exhibitionism could be reduced.
Even before the end of the first season, with the final episode of Euphoria airing on August 4, the series was renewed for next year. Yes, perhaps, after 13 Reasons Why, Sex Education and How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast), the HBO show does not look like some kind of revelation, but excellent acting, impressive visuals and a gorgeous soundtrack attract attention. If you want to understand the Smartphone Generation and how they are similar and/or different from you, watch this series. If only for Zendaya and Hunter Schafer’s sake, they really are that good.
A beautiful and challenging youth series that is not afraid to tackle difficult topics