With headliners such as Zendaya as the protagonist and Drake as the producer, HBO’s new television series Euphoria has generated a huge fan following. It is clear that creator and writer Sam Levinson puts a lot of energy into making this show a one-of-a-kind.
Deemed a “realistic representation of generation Z,” Euphoria aims to tackle authentic issues today that lack a form of dialogue. The show does not simply present a one-dimensional idea of adolescence but delves into the intricacies of diverse lives, making it different from other teen dramas.
From depicting drug addiction, the road to body positivity, and even transgenderism, Levinson sought to cast actors and actresses that essentially shared the same lives as his fictional characters. Levinson wrote parts of himself into each character. However, to keep with the authenticity of the series, he worked with his cast to help build realistic characters that are reflected in the script.
For instance, Levinson worked closely with transgender actress, model, and LGBT+ activist, Hunter Schafer in merging Schafer’s lived experiences as a trans person into her character Jules. In fact, Schafer’s acting debut was made on Euphoria. Her contribution to the script allowed her to portray Jules as a young trans girl who has mostly found comfort in her gender identity.
Despite being resolved at such a young age, the audience is able to see Jules’ struggle with navigating in a cis-het world as a trans person. Straying away from the typical trans narrative of ‘finding one’s self,’ Jules has already found herself for the most part, but struggles with how to be who she is in a world that has yet to understand her.
On the topic of characters, Levinson casted Zendaya to play the leading protagonist, Rue, who also happens to narrate each episode. Despite her narration, it is refreshing to see the inner lives and development of other characters. Jacob Elordi, famously known for his role in The Kissing Booth, plays the shows main antagonist, Nate, who is the spitting image of machismo.
While Nate struggles with his sexuality and an overbearing father, he also deals with a lot of mental health issues. Elordi puts complete dedication into his character that he reportedly gave himself a concussion while acting out a scene depicting Nate having a mental breakdown after a fight with his father.
As I mentally compare Euphoria to other teen dramas, I cannot help but feel that Euphoria is the show that this generation needed. Euphoria is one of the first, if not the only, teen drama show that does not immediately correlate today’s generation with heavy social media use or the typical teen angst. Rather, Euphoria depicts a myriad of characters that all lead completely different lives. Therefore, this is what makes the show and its characters relatable to young adults because there is always something to relate to whether it is a specific character or a recurring theme from the show.
However, my favourite part of the show has to be that each character is on a nonlinear journey of becoming a better version of themselves. These characters might resonate with viewers from the beginning but could become the complete opposite of who they were by the fifth episode. This concept is so reassuring for me as a young adult as it demonstrates that the journey, whatever it may be, will always be nonlinear and that one step backwards does not indicate an end-all-be-all.