Thoughts after watching Euphoria

Most creatures of ancient greek folklore would often lead to your death. Medusa would turn you into stone if you met her gaze, the minotaur would probably tear you apart and of course one of the many hydra heads would devour you for the main course, or as a dessert depending on your blood sugar level. Of these 6 millions ways to die at the hands of a mythical beast, one group particularly catches my eye, the Sirens. Their modus operandi was very clear simple. They would allure ancient seafarers with their enchanted singing and shipwreck these unsuspecting men into a watery grave. I believe that the allure of narcotics is not so different from the music of Sirens. Maybe the only way to survive is to shut your eyes and ears to it, put your head down and walk-on ahead.

After resisting the urge for a very long time, I gave in and finally started watching Euphoria and right from the get-go I knew I was in for a ride. You would either love the show or hate it but there was no way on earth I was going to be able to ignore it or get bored. This is also probably the first time I am trying to write something about a show I have watched so I tread this task very carefully and as always this review is going to be full spoilers so please be warned.

The show is a first-person narration by Ruby Bennett, played by the eternal high-schooler Zendaya, who is battling chronic addiction and substance abuse. What started as a coping mechanism during her father’s prolonged illness, and eventual death due to cancer, soon becomes her only solace. She often describes that being high was her only moment of quiet. Her only moments of being still and calm, after battling being dyslexic and OCD from her childhood and the loss of a parent, were often drug induced. It also does not help that she is a teenager and queer woman of colour. The summative repercussions of not complying to any of the societal norms often get to her and aggravate her issues.

In most depictions of substance abuse in movies or shows we only see a momentary pleasure or pain on the face of the person consuming the drug which is often accompanied by eye-rolling, sighing or deep inhalations and exhalations. The rest is usually left to our imaginations. I probably for the first time watched a very unusual depiction of this experience onscreen. As Rue, or any other character on the screen, consume something that gets them into another plane of existence, the audience is teleported along with them. With a stunning array of zooming and spinning camera angles, exquisite neon/halogen lighting and fluid tracking shots the Director of Photography, Marcell Rév, works wonders. He is indeed a magician.

As move along the show, we encounter an array of very well crafted characters. Each of these teenagers have their own parallel storylines going on, that often intersect with one another given that they are all going to the same school, and no one character feels like the centre of gravity for the show. Be it Maddie and her hubris, Nate and his facade of masculinity, Cassie and her struggle to find love, Kat and her coming to terms with her own body, Jules and her gender expression or Lexi and Gia living under their sister’s shadows, each of these characters have a lot to offer and help you relate to the show in one way or the other and amidst all of the paraphernalia you realise that these people are probably not so different than you when you were in high school and believed strongly that it was the sine qua non of life.

Like the sirens we met in the beginning of this rant, Euphoria has alluring music too. Most of them are popular songs that have been repurpose very aptly for the purpose of the show and I found several playlists on Spotify with both the OST and the popular songs that play along in the background. I implore you to please find them on Spotify and listen to them. I assure you that you are in for a treat.

As I finish writing this outpouring up, I wonder how much of this close to the reality. Like this story, are the suburban schools of L.A. really awash with drugs? How do these kids who seem to have no source of income have access to narcotics so easily and so often? Is the system really this broken in America? Is this really the American dream/nightmare so many people across the world aspire for? I can only wonder.

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