Euphoria, first airing in 2019 and based on an Israeli series of the same name, seems to have become the latest TV series to tap into the cultural spirit of the moment, taking on a life of its own on social media, as viewers dissect and discuss each episode at length.
So the question is, is it worthy of the hype?
The series was created by Sam Levinson and centres around the lives of a group of American high school students as they deal with issues of Drugs, sex and violence. It’s a very stylised and open look at the lives of teenagers, dealing with some very dark subject matter. While the show revolves around teenagers, it certainly isn’t the most authentic depiction of high school life and sometimes can be criticised for its over sexualised and provocative view of high school.
The finale of the second season recently aired and offers up many questions, answers and loose ends to keep viewers eagerly anticipating its return, but in all honesty, the second season falls short of what is a brilliant first season. While not downright ‘bad’, where the first season acts as an interesting and satisfying introduction to the setting, characters and their relationships with each other, the second season loses a lot of that focus as the season progresses. Instead Season 2 feels very disjointed with little structure, with certain characters taking a major backseat and some being left out entirely (apparently there was some controversy with certain actors not seeing eye to eye with Levinson on set, hence their omission).
Euphoria does a great job of introducing all the main players, with most of season 1 following the structure of each episode beginning with the backstory of a main character and tackling a theme or subject close to that character while intertwining with the various other storylines at play. It does a solid job depicting the drama of high school and adolescence, for instance that feeling you get when you aren’t always directly involved in the latest drama but in a way you sort-of become part of it because everyone is so close in the high school setting. Season 1 does a nice job of setting up the social hierarchy of the high school in a natural way.
The stand out aspects of Euphoria are definitely the visually appealing cinematography and fantastic acting performances. Visually, the show looks very cinematic. The visual style is unlike anything you’ll find in most TV Drama’s, especially ones that revolve around high school. The way the show plays with lighting and framing is stunning and really helps to elevate the series quality.
The performances across the board are also great. Zendaya is the show’s main character and it’s her face on all the posters. She plays Rue really well, it’s honestly the best acting I’ve seen from her and she really shows a range of emotions throughout the show. Sometimes I found myself really despising her character for certain actions but I’d still be rooting for her because of how sympathetic her performance is. While everyone does really well with what they’re given, the other two standouts for me were Jacob Elordi (Nate) and Eric Dane (Cal). They play father and son in what can only be described as a very messed up family situation, with both leading their own sort-of secret lives. It leads to a really interesting dissection of masculinity and how such a strained relationship can affect each psychologically.
Euphoria is a very mature look at the American high school experience, full of flair and creativity expressed though appealing cinematography and a jukebox-like soundtrack. Season 1 does a great job at introducing viewers to these characters and their diverse relationships. Season 2 however falls a little short. Season 2 feels incoherent and poorly planned and has a severe lack of focus on certain characters.
Altogether, Euphoria is a refreshingly mature and stylised view of coming-of-age that many are sure to find entertainment from. Although it occasionally stumbles, the acting and visual style are enough to warrant a watch.