By Finan Asgodom • Staff Writer
You have most likely heard about the most talked about show this summer, and for good reason, whether it be from the ads on @zendaya or @champagnepapi’s page or from the many controversial debates on the audiences viewing experience, it has managed to grab our attention.
The writer, Sam Levinson, curated this masterpiece from his own personal experiences with drugs and alcohol at around the age of 16, and as this show elaborates on other “explicit” materials, it has coined the title of a “pornographic after school special.”
This season displays an abundant amount of scenes of drug abuse, profanity, violence, sexual endeavours and nudity, and for these reasons, it has triggered mass panic and excitement. Why would this cause such a negative uproar? It couldn’t possibly be for any of the same reasons that Quentin Tarantino has become arguably one of the most qualified producers, or why movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill,” with all of the same “negative” attributes as “Euphoria,” are revered.
The issue isn’t exactly that we see someone abusing xanax or a couple having sex, but it’s the fact that we see these actions being followed through by high school students. That is why teenagers are intrigued by this show. They have something to relate to, something that they are able to understand, laugh, and cry at without being reprimanded for doing something wrong or making a mistake. The allure of this show stems from how every aspect of this show has been shoved down our throats from the authority figures in our life as “wrong.”
This show, while being dramatized and exaggerated, allows for teenagers to have an insight on one another in a safe place, because while everyone feels the same sensory overload that comes along with adolescence, it’s been a taboo to speak on it without inherently labeling yourself as “sensitive” or ”fragile.”
Everything that you can remember about high school, from the anxious and immature students to the sporadic loneliness and daunting fear of the future was perfectly embodied within the first episode.
Sam Levinson gave us key elements into how Rue, played by Zendaya, was shaped into the character that she is, post-rehab. The story opened to explain how internal misunderstandings were the cause of her downfall. The episode shows us to see the complicated mind of an individual that is trying to simply take it one day at a time.
Rue’s story develops quickly because of two main things. The first being the addition of new characters, both detrimental and beneficial to her mental state. She finds solace in characters like Jules, played by Hunter Schafer, who is new in town and treats Rue with a friendly affection that Rue hadn’t felt in a while. Lexi, played by Maude Apatow, has been one of her friends since elementary school and bails her out of drug escapades. Her younger sister Gia, played by Storm Reid, found her in the excruciatingly depressing state of her overdose.
While these characters are the only reason Rue wants to stay clean, characters like Nate, played by Jacob Elordi, who display their manliness by throwing grand parties and going into drunken rages, display all of the worst aspects of what being a high school student is like.
One of the first glimmers of Nate’s personality was evident when he tried to show his best friend all of the secret photos he had compiled of the nudes that girls had either sent him or found in the past. Nudes are common among millennials, but no show truly delves into, at least not in the first episode, such controversial topics.
The last thing that helped catapult the first episode to living up to the high expectations the audience of the show is the insight into Rue’s thought processes, which is aided by the cinematography in scenes like the rotating room or the lighting that helped set the mood of the tense emotion.
I need you to stop reading this right now and find that scene on YouTube.
It explained the headspace that one might be in while at the peak of their drugs, and why the idea of drugs to someone with an obsessive personality might disregard their life for those ten seconds. The non-linear storytelling, gritty but ethereal close up scenes, paired with the willingness to highlight the good and bad that comes with growing up, allows for this show to continue to gain respect from all walks of life.
The one thing that Sam Levinson wanted the audience to take away from this episode was that it’s easier to relinquish your life to things that give you an escape. With this, comes the good and the bad, and while nothing is glorified in this episode, you determine what you’re willing to give up and what you’re willing to gain.