Euphoria review dizzying high school drama is one of year’s best

Zendaya participates a student battling addiction in a Drake-produced series that manages to making both form and substance

Despite the 13 -plus reasons why Netflix teen lines 13 Reasons Why was undoubtedly problematic, there remained a grimly forceful personnel that deterred many of us furiously sounding for the next incident. It was noxious and exploitative but also horribly obligating, a greedily devoured shame watch that was downed readily but left us feeling uneasy on reflection. The parent-baiting tale of a teenage make her working life tended anger after its debut due to both its windy inevitability and its graphic, gothic romanticism. A debate stretched over its potentially harmful impact on its young target audience, one that’s been recently reignited by twostudies suggesting a possible correlation between its freeing and a substantial spike in real-world suicides.

There’s then something preferably daring, perhaps even perilous, about the idea of Euphoria, HBO’s splashy, definite high school drama premiering in the midst of this ongoing furore. It’s a show that deals with addiction, virility, porn, body-shaming, pharmaceuticals, sexual abuse, poison manlines, self-harm and pretty much every other One Million Moms-angering issue you can think of … and that’s just in the four chapters available to commentators. But, while bracingly wiener, it’s also able to balance any surprise request with surprising sense. It’s a fragile balancing achievement, making a show about teens that feels both unfiltered yet scrupulous but somehow, Assassination Nation writer-director Sam Levinson has crafted something that succeeded to every path 13 Grounds Why flunked. It’s still probably going to piss parents off( there are more dicks in the first few occurrences than I could count) but there’s more on its mind than simply law controversy.

While something of an ensemble fragment, Euphoria’s central focus is the post-rehab journey of Rue( Zendaya ), an anxiety-ridden 17 -year-old returning to school with a dark cloud flitting over her intelligence. It’s not one that she’s cozy stepping away from just yet, choosing to continue abusing while pretending to her fraught mom that she’s getting better. Their own lives intersects with a distinctive subsection of peers, from swaggering sociopathic jock Nate( The Kissing Booth’s Jacob Elordi) to sexually unsure college freshman Chris( The Hate U Give’s Algee Smith) to body-conscious Kat( example Barbie Ferreira) to, most notably, new girl Jules( trans activist Hunter Schafer ). Rue finds herself captivated by Jules and the two begin an intense friendship, but one that might struggle to weather the gale that’s about to engulf them all.

Aside from its buzzy assign of up-and-comers, headlined by Disney star done good Zendaya, Euphoria has its cool parts furnished up behind the camera, more, with store indie studio A24 and exec creator Drake to give it at the least a superficial air of authenticity. The demonstrate boastings a dizzying aesthetic that some could conceivably criticise as over-stylised but I procured it intoxicating , is not merely because it’s so refreshing to watch a cinematic, led present after weathering so many flat Netflix series but because there’s essence in the script to support the visual indulgence.

There’s specificity in the problems faced by the teenages, whether it’s how indecency has mutated the idea of real-world sex or how to rationalise depressive dreams when you’re fully aware of your own privilege, and each bout available opened new, enticingly uncharted province. While it might boast a heady brightnes, it’s far from a glossy look at high school life, comfortably existing in an entirely different dimension to a establish like Riverdale. It’s often improbably somber in its portrayal of craving and in trying to construct the immense social assault teens face day-to-day, whether it be from online bullying or from the unending influx of differing media contents. Rue’s road to addiction is explained through a difficult mosaic of suffering, mental health and being born into a life suffocating in stress. One of the show’s biggest challenges is not glamorising the representations of a Vogue cover star make so many doses and while the representations of Rue snorting and drinking are stylishly shot, the script never balk away from the devastating consequences of her decisions at every turn. She’s an cumbersome deadbeat, far away from a persona to aspire to and, in her most substantial role to date, Zendaya is admirably understated.

Hunter Schafer and Zendaya in Euphoria. Photograph: HBO

Her performance is one of many enormous turns in a show populated by related uncharteds who each testify charming in varying behaviors. There are still camera-friendly faces but the throw feels closer to capturing what an actual “schools ” looks like and similarly, Levinson likewise manages to deal with sexuality and gender with singularly grinded subtlety. It’s not announced or constituted self-evident but there’s a casual fluidity that’s both the product of a generation and also a dexterou storyteller. With Drake on board, there’s an expectedly lament awareness of music with the soundtrack shifting from Paul Anka to Beyonce to Bobby Womack to Jorja Smith, often contacting hair-raising instants of greatnes. There’s a wildness that attends the substantiate picturing everything from a Game of Thrones-inspired high school massacre to an animated fan myth sex background between Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, impossible to prophesy from place to scene. At seasons it risks descending into excess and sometimes, Rue’s narration can seem overwritten in a Fight Club-lite kind of way but the speed is so fast that the show is soon on to something that acres far better.

Euphoria is an extreme experience, dialled up all the way to 11, that could demonstrate nightmarish for mothers while at the same time inducing the rest of us feel fairly counteracted not to be in high school any more. Its louder instants are graphic and sassy but its quieter moments are equally impactful, a well-modulated drama that knows when to push and then pull back. It’s hard to know where it will go and that’s part of its untamed appeal but as it stands, it’s one of the most audacious and effective new pictures I have seen this year.

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