A music video without the music

HBO’s “Euphoria” is all style but very little substance.

BY: GENEVA LEE
Chief Editor

The lack of substance in “Euphoria”, despite the proliferation of substances, is covered only by its beauty and torpor. Vibrant, hallucinogenic cinematography sweeps over the handsome, beautifully dressed actors, who wear the show’s signature bold makeup, and is set against an upper-middle-class American backdrop. It gives pretty animated images, but seeks and finds no real thing that calls, evokes and connects.

For a character-driven show, the people who populate Euphoria are inexcusably dimensionless. Despite their adolescence, the characters express themselves and speak little, with many scenes devoid of any dialogue, spoken or not. Characters only really get a chance to reveal their feelings in monologues that pop up out of nowhere, too-late attempts to get viewers to care about the characters they’ve felt indifferent to for a season or so. It’s like having a high school classmate that I saw but barely knowingly comes to tell me her life story out of nowhere.

We’re told, repeatedly, how the characters are best friends, but they rarely have conversations of depth and character, or even inconsequential amusing chatter. Most of the interactions between stars Maddie and Cassie are only the former calling the latter a female dog, so it’s hard to fathom they feel any emotion, let alone love, towards each other. Nate is constantly berated by others on the show for not discussing his feelings, but his peers barely beat him. Rue repeatedly says she loves Jules more than anything, but she never shows it, and Jules, despite being my favorite character, is just a maniacal pixie dream girl. This disconnect with the audience also means that when the characters do something wrong, instead of the audience being torn apart by the ambivalence of empathy, they see the characters as kinda fair… bad people. They are not convincing.

And poor Cassie is particularly remarkable. She barely resembles an actual human being, her chest making her defining feature on the show, isolated from all characters, including her abusive near-boyfriend, to whom she slavishly submits. Cassie lacks agency and is treated like a hysterical harpy because the show makes one, in which her sole purpose is to trade sex for attention under the guise of love. Although people go to great lengths for romance, it’s not relatable, just misogynistic and cruel.

Topics covered by Euphoria are heavy: substance abuse, gender identity, sexual orientation, patriarchy, family instability, platonic relationships, domestic violence, physical insecurity, and betrayal. But without compelling characters as vehicles, these issues are flat and heavy. Including many large, bold, and dramatic issues does not mean that the issues speak for themselves: on the contrary, the writers have so much material to sort through that they must skillfully shape and craft each storyline and its accompanying themes. for the audience to tune in and understand what they’re trying to say. And these topics deserve strong writing because of their importance in the lives of viewers.

Yet the scriptwriters fail to do so: they really say nothing. Euphoria is simply a nihilistic, plaintive, sophomoric work, which audiences of the characters’ age may not find a problem if they too are angsty teenagers.

The show earns points for its in-depth LGBTQIA+ representation in many forms, beyond Glee’s typical gay-straight dichotomy that doesn’t go beyond coming out (exploring transgender identities, lesbianism, pansexuality, repressed homosexuality, non-binary gender).

The show is also female-centric, with two Latin women and a mixed-race (black and white) actress, all of whom have roles of equal weight and depth to those of white women (although there are no many dark-skinned women). actors in the series, indicating potential colorism).

And the subjects are not simply the hardships of the ultra-upper class, as in Gossip Girl, but endemic social issues that affect viewers. However, again, these characters, while present, don’t always have their inner selves revealed, are fleshed out enough for us to really connect and see ourselves and our experiences in them.

Euphoria doesn’t just label an interesting teen show: it comes across as transcendent; the pinnacle of young adult media; Movie with a capital F that won Emmys with its HBO sister shows that redefined television. It may elevate the cinematography, but it won’t disrupt or challenge the stories, characters, or writing like other HBO hits.

Euphoria, at best, will set fashion trends and inspire like-minded shows to be bolder with visuals. At worst, it will provide a background spectacle for nostalgic psychonauts a decade from now. Euphoria’s self-importance demands high regard without bringing the quality to even earn respect.

Many viewers watched it when it came out every week with friends and started wearing more colorful makeup. But we didn’t learn anything, don’t like or care about the characters, or even support any of them (other than Jules). It’s an unsatisfying dinner every Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. that a lot of people still crave for a bit. The makeup is fun and the sex is frequent and mildly entertaining. This show shouldn’t be recommended to anyone, but if you’re under 30 and your friends are watching it, just watch it to join the chatter and hype.