2021 picked up exactly where 2020 left off – an unrelenting procession of tragedy and pain. The moments of respite are rare and when they do come along they are far too short. Euphoria is a show that has embodied these characteristics from the very moment that it appeared on our screens.
Led by an enthralling female lead in the form of Zendaya, Euphoria is one of the more brutal coming of age shows in recent times. There is seemingly nothing that the series is not willing to touch on – from drug addiction and mental health to toxic masculinity and sexual assault. The difference with this show and what one is used to seeing with these topics is how uncomfortably honest and real it is when it unpacks them.
Whilst Euphoria isn’t lacking when it comes to incredible writing and jaw-dropping cinematography, it is often the silence that comes with heavy scenes that hits you hardest. There is no romanticism around the topics it tackles. There is no forced drama and outrage. It is the simplicity of Euphoria’s approach that makes it so hard hitting and ultimately captivating.
Triggering but necessary
A very honest statement needs to be made with this show. It is unbelievably triggering for those who can relate to the issues touched upon. It is not a show that is easy to binge but for all the right reasons. It is the honesty with which it approaches everything that leaves you reeling from the emotional blow to your gut.
With the content and writing already setting a gold standard, you could understand if the show faltered in other spheres but mediocrity is nowhere to be seen. The cinematography only serves to further the narrative and provide visuals that are too arresting to look away.
What also sets Euphoria above so many other shows is how well integrated the music selection is in various scenes. The song selection, along with the original score, all serve to hit hard on your emotions. This is a series that pulls no punches with all of its mediums, which results in a viewing experience that is sometimes hard to bear.
Adapting to a pandemic – The Euphoria 2-Part Special
With the arrival of Covid-19, so many plans fell apart last year. The film industry was no exception, as Euphoria had to put a hold on its production schedule for its second season whilst the world waited for the pandemic to subside.
By now, we have all come to accept that social distancing will remain for months to come as we continue to mitigate the devastating impact that the coronavirus has had on society. It is with this in mind that Euphoria chose a different way to continue its storytelling, with a two-part special.
With Season 2 delayed by the pandemic, this intimate, pared-down 2-part special focusses alternately on Rue and Jules.
The two specials, averaging 50 minutes each, delve deep into the mind of Rue & Jules. The intimacy of the approach meant that the two episodes relied heavily on its dialogue, which highlighted how well-crafted and produced Euphoria is.
The editing incorporates past footage along with newly shot scenes but the majority of the episodes depict intimate dialogue between characters, unpacking everything that happened in the first season.
It’s hard to put into words just how poignant these episodes were but it serves to illustrate why Euphoria resonates so much with its viewers. Simplicity and honesty. One of the most memorable scenes broaches the idea of genuine self-development needing an internal revolution, with a moving speech:
It is imperative that you believe in something. Something greater than yourself. All right? And it can’t be the ocean, or your favourite song. And it can’t be the movement, or the people, or the words. You’ve got to believe in the poetry. Because everything else in your life will fail you. Including yourself.
New recipe, same ingredients
Despite the limited approach, the show doesn’t lack any of the gut-wrenching statements that it has become known for. The two-part special, with the latest one covering Jules, will hit home just as hard as the regular first season. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if these intimate post-season specials become a staple of the series.
2020 was one of the most difficult years collectively for society. 2021 has not let up on that agenda and despite the hardship and neverending trauma, Euphoria remains a beacon of introspection and thoughtfulness that may seem hard to bear but is so worth it.
This show, despite how brutally honest and real it is, remains a source of inspiration and a reminder of the power of the human spirit to overcome anything. That is a reminder that we all need given the state of the world. Euphoria can be weirdly described as a feel-good story. No matter how low life takes us, redemption is always within reach. We can survive the procession of grief and trauma together. How apt a time to remind the world of that.
Last Updated: January 27, 2021