Tread outside your comfort zone with HBO’s Euphoria
Think of your comfort zone as an old-school DVD or VHS rental store – you used to know exactly where the movies were that you liked to pick out, what the bundle specials were and how you were going to explain to the clerk why you returned it late in order to avoid a fine.
Two older comedies and one new action release. Returned a day late. But every once in a blue moon, you picked a single release from the horror section and watched it on your own in the dark, and brought it back well within time.
For those who just googled “what is a VHS”, let me explain it like this: I like a wide variety of genres, just about all of them, but horrors freak me the freak out.
Don’t get me wrong, I do watch horrors sometimes to challenge myself but then I need to watch it during the day, with the lights on, curtains open, Rottweilers on the other couch and tightly holding my wife’s hand.
That’s me out of my comfort zone. And it is strangely rewarding at the end. More of a relieved feeling of “I made it through!”. That’s basically me and every good horror movie. Torture and reward. Angst and relief. And that is the purpose of every good movie or series, I guess – you need to feel something and make sense of how it influences you.
It started with Requiem for a Dream
I distinctly remember having very strong feelings and emotions one particular Monday morning at work. Mondays suck as they normally do, but on this particular morning all four colleagues in my team had expressions on their faces as if someone had kidnapped their puppies and flushed their salaries down the toilet.
There was a deadly silence in the office the entire morning. We only figured out what was wrong just before lunch, when one of the ladies finally, without looking up from her desk, softly uttered the words: “Man, as if Carte Blanche wasn’t enough… Requiem For a Dream really fucked me up last night…” All of us burst out laughing and then proceeded to discuss all the hectic parts of the movie.
Now, 18 years later, I am confronted with a similar feeling after watching HBO’s Euphoria.
“Kids meets Trainspotting”
Euphoria takes a look at life for a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence. It’s an HBO adaptation of an Israeli TV series of the same name and has been described as “Kids meets Trainspotting”. This is very accurate, and now I’ve thrown in Requiem For A Dream into the mix for good measure.
It stars Zendaya (from Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman) as a drug-addicted 17-year-old named Rue, opposite the likes of Maude Apatow (This Is 40, Knocked Up) and Eric Dane (aka McSteamy in Grey’s Anatomy).
You need to leave McSteamy in the Grey’s Anatomy box and forget about that character completely.
I am going to give you solid advice for this series – you need to leave McSteamy in the Grey’s Anatomy box and forget about that character completely. Separate yourself from Grey’s, otherwise you’re going to get very upset. Eric Dane has never played such a dark character before as he has in Euphoria and it’s frighteningly brilliant.
Real issues we need to talk about
The show confronts viewers with serious subject matter. Euphoria showcases real issues that sadly still affect both teens and young adults today that need to be talked about as it follows the troubled life of 17-year-old Rue (Zendaya), a drug addict fresh from rehab with no real plans or drive to stay clean.
She also suffers from multiple disorders and mental health issues and unfortunately turns to unhealthy coping methods. Her friends include Jules, a transgender girl searching for a place to belong; Nate, a typical jock whose anger issues mask sexual insecurities which are compounded by his father’s sexual deviancy; Chris, a football star who finds the adjustment from high school to college quite the challenge; Cassie, whose sexual history seems to haunt her and Kat, a body-conscious teen exploring her sexuality.
Do you see a recipe forming?
The classmates struggle to make sense of it all, and the series addresses a familiar teenage landscape of loneliness, substance abuse, unsupervised house parties and an anxiety-ridden day-to-day life.
The show addresses these issues with endearing understanding and a degree of openness which sometimes shocks, but is at the same time desperately necessary.
The show addresses these issues with endearing understanding and a degree of openness which sometimes shocks, but is at the same time desperately necessary. Euphoria does a great job at attempting to invite all audiences.
Zendaya (who plays the main character of Rue) briefly sums it up in a tweet:
Euphoria creates a visceral response and you can expect huge reactions and opinions in the coming months. The show is currently in second place on IMDb’s Most Popular TV Charts and has surpassed Game of Thrones!
Have a look at the trailer to see why this hardly comes as a surprise. It has racked up more than 6.5 million views in just over a month: