Pilot – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Stuntin’ Like My Daddy – | Review Score – 4/5
Made You Look – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Shook One: Pt II – | Review Score – 4/5
’03 Bonnie and Clyde – | Review Score – 4/5
The Next Episode – | Review Score – 4/5
Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed – | Review Score – 4.5/5
And Salt the Earth Behind You – | Review Score – 3.5/5
HBO’s recent teen drama Euphoria is a stylish, well written and oftentimes chaotic series. From its bold use of nudity and drug use through to its dizzying array of aesthetically pleasing scenes, Euphoria is as engrossing as it is beautiful. At times it does value style over substance, especially during the season’s finale, but for the most part this teen drama does well to keep things interesting and absorbing until the end.
The story predominantly revolves around high school student Rue. Addicted to drugs and spiraling out of control, her whirlwind of familial drama and addiction ultimately acts as the catalyst to which everyone else dances around with their own angst. High school jock Nate plays a dangerous game with teen sweetheart Maddy while wildchild Jules mellows Rue out as the season progresses. Kat goes through a pretty dramatic transformation as the episodes tick by too while McKay and Cassie find out the hard way that teen romance isn’t all it’s shaped up to be.
Despite how tumultuous the children are, it’s ironically the parents that cause more damage than their children. Seeing Nate’s Dad losing control or seeing Cassie’s Mum reaching for “one more glass” really hammers home how much of an influence the parents have over their own kids. Ultimately though it’s Rue’s drug addiction that takes centre stage here and although some of the later episodes do soften the impact of this, the angst is well written and develops well over the episodes.
While the story itself dips and peaks throughout its 8 episode run, the overall style and tone is consistent throughout. Technically at least, Euphoria is as impressive as it is stylish, with numerous slick camera movements and smart edits peppered throughout the show. From sharp cuts back and forth through time to rotating camera movements that work harmoniously with the deliberate choice of hedonistic colour, Euphoria is a beautiful series from start to finish.
It’s also a show with plenty of thought provoking imagery too. Whether it be Nate walking fully clothed through a locker-room of naked men or the aformentioned vertically rotating camera movements showing two sides to Jules and Rue’s relationship, every scene feels deliberately placed to maximise these ideas. Of course, this value of style won’t be for everyone and in its bid to produce something particularly provocative, Euphoria does lose sight of its bigger picture, with a narrative that doesn’t quite hit its peaks as much as it perhaps should.
Euphoria isn’t perfect and especially in the teen drama genre there’s a lot of competition. However, HBO’s latest drama does just enough to stand out, making it one of the more memorable entries this year. Despite the structurally chaotic finale and unanswered questions at the end, there’s just enough here to make for a highly enjoyable and provocative series well worth checking out.