Euphoria

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Never Cursed
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Euphoria

#1 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:33 am

I'm officially sold on Sam Levinson with Euphoria - is anyone else here watching it? It's absolutely stylized to death, both in its phantasmagoric visuals and wildly melodramatic plot, but I've yet to see any film with a more authentic (if somewhat histrionic) portrayal of Gen Z, speaking as a member of myself. Zendaya is good in a pithy sort of way, and a solid chunk of the cast is made up of very convincing non-actors (I still can't believe that Hunter Schaefer never read a script before this). The third episode is especially notable to me as the first work of any kind I've seen that acknowledges the intense effect that Tumblr, specifically Tumblr, has had on a certain subset of teenage girls. I can't think of any other film or TV show or whatever to use it as anything more than a punchline to a joke, let alone engage in actual thoughtful conversation (as this show does) about its value as an identity-former. I heartily recommend the show to anyone here with a higher tolerance for teen melodramas and/or Sam Levinson's characteristic stylizations, which I know some hated in Assassination Nation. The first episode is even up on Youtube for free.

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Matt
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Re: TV of 2019

#2 Post by Matt » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:25 pm

I'm watching it, though I'm definitely not its demographic. It's gorgeously made, Zendaya is absolutely wonderful, and the whole thing seems designed to give parents of current teens and pre-teens nightmares. I hope it can continue to remain relatively grounded in reality and not spin off into witless parody.

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Never Cursed
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Re: TV of 2019

#3 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:25 pm

It's funny, I was worried about that exact thing happening to the show's trajectory after the fourth episode, which seemed to wallow in the melodrama that the previous three episodes spent so much time deftly criticizing, but then the fifth episode, last night's, more than righted the problems I had with it,
SpoilerShow
and that final shot of Jules coming to grips with the gravity and general terribleness of Rue's dependence on her? A perfect way to end the episode.
Not really excited for next episode's focus on McKay (who is James Hurley levels of irrelevant at this point), but the A-plots seem to be heading somewhere fascinating.

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Re: TV of 2019

#4 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:55 am

Matt wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:25 pm
I'm watching it, though I'm definitely not its demographic. It's gorgeously made, Zendaya is absolutely wonderful, and the whole thing seems designed to give parents of current teens and pre-teens nightmares. I hope it can continue to remain relatively grounded in reality and not spin off into witless parody.
I read something which posits that by and large given the current attitudes towards things like drugs and sex by teenagers now, the show isn't as accurate towards what's going on in this generation than it may have mine or earlier ones.

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Never Cursed
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Re: Euphoria

#5 Post by Never Cursed » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:41 am

Where did you read that? I ask because, again, speaking as a member of this show's target audience and coming from a somewhat similar community to the kids in the show, I haven't seen any film, and certainly not any television, better depict the specific anxieties and attitudes of "kids these days." It's maybe a cliched thing to say, but I can see a lot of parallels between the teenagers I've met and the teenagers in the show (I've met people very similar to Rue, Nate, Jules, etc.). Obviously their cases have not been as dramatic as in this show, which has a tendency towards the hyperbolic to be sure, but I would describe the show's depiction of Gen Z in all areas (including attitudes towards drugs and sex, but also beyond that) as being all too accurate.


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domino harvey
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Re: Euphoria

#7 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:30 pm

Sounds like a Redux of thinkpieces reassuring pearl-clutching viewers of Skins

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Never Cursed
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Re: Euphoria

#8 Post by Never Cursed » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:03 pm

Which is fitting, because Euphoria is obviously taking quite a bit of inspiration from Skins.

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knives
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Re: Euphoria

#9 Post by knives » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:46 pm

To play a little devil's advocate on our new Skins attitude and actions are disconnected. One could have a laissez faire attitude toward drugs and sex and not really engage with either. To feel indifferent if someone is sleeping around (within the socially accepted confines of the generation towards an etiquette) is very different from acting that way yourself. As someone who works with this generation of kids every day (admittedly on the younger end as I work in a middle school) while the anxieties etc mentioned are definitely there I haven't seen much engagement for these types of behaviors even without the comparison of what I grew up in.

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Never Cursed
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Re: Euphoria

#10 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:43 am

Found two great reads about the show as described by Levinson, one from The Hollywood Reporter and one from Vulture with Matt Zoller Seitz. Spoilers abound in both, of course

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Re: Euphoria

#11 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:13 am

For a good chunk of this season, we get an incredibly poignant display of the intersectionality of interpersonal and intrapersonal experiences of youth. Of course plenty of creative liberties are taken with plotting, some a bit too much (and if I’m being honest the coercive manipulations by certain characters bothered me quite a bit in their exaggerations) but other aspects, particularly the sex and drug cultures, are on point.

Regarding the way the show treats drug use: few things bother me more than when media takes on this subject in a disrespectful manner. Thankfully, Euphoria delivers a sensitive and honest exhibition, particularly emphasizing the isolation and suppression of identity in suburban America that coincides with self-medication through substance use to escape dysphoric states. I work with this population (young addicts of this ages in recovery) privately, and this show is definitely a trigger factory for me and probably anyone who has experiences similar to these, but Levinson provides a pretty accurate meditation on addiction and other self-harmful behaviors in manifestation, maintenance, and destruction.

Despite the intense style and melodrama, the show appropriately de-romanticizes the perks of euphoria in favor of the collateral damage and self-destruction drug use and risk taking behaviors leave on us and those connected to us without shaming the population it’s targeting. The approach is validating in its transparency, and gives special attention to the inner thinking of the young person who is constantly towing the line between self-awareness and suppression of their behaviors, reasons for said actions, and other parts of their identity. Social dynamics of high school age are treated well too, and this is very much a series about the individual trying to find a place in a social world that is repeatedly welcoming and rejecting based on principles changing and unknown.

You can tell that Levinson worked closely with certain actors (especially Zendaya and Hunter Schafer) to develop authentic characters, and it’s fitting that they’re partly based on their experiences navigating identity as well as his own experiences with addiction and risk-taking escapades in adolescence. I recommend this show to anyone who is interested in a realistic depiction of the developmental age where one’s ‘stop’ brain is stunted while the ‘go’ brain is in full force. A sad and at times strangely cathartic presentation in its nostalgia of the truth of this time of life when it’s developmentally inappropriate to change one’s pleasure-seeking drives toward rational decision-making, and yet life experiences are happening a mile a minute, opportunities passing by or taken, and not usually the ones that’ll serve one well beyond the night.

I’m not sure how I feel about the show overall. There’s a lot I appreciate about Levinson and company’s keen eye into this milieu, but the series lots some steam as the season progressed. I wish it was kept at a miniseries length and not renewed but perhaps it will continue to explore new terrain. The first 3.5 episodes are near perfect though, and the rest isn’t bad at all just not quite matching the power of the first half.

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Re: Euphoria

#12 Post by ianthemovie » Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:04 pm

I've been enjoying catching up with this (though "enjoying" is perhaps not the right word, considering how stressful it is to watch). I feel that Kat's storyline doesn't get much love but it's the most poignant for me, and in some ways the least sensationalized. Nate started out as a compelling and complex character but by episode seven at least he seems to have become psychopathic to the point of inhumanity.

I'm seeing a strong '90s-Scorsese influence in the filmmaking, and characters specifically name-check Casino at one point (there's also at least one Taxi Driver reference, in the Halloween party episode). The Levinson interview mentions 90s PTA being more of a direct influence but then again Magnolia and Boogie Nights are really only one or two notches removed from Casino and GoodFellas, stylistically.

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Re: Euphoria

#13 Post by ianthemovie » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:17 am

Just watched the season finale last night. I guess it's safe to say Sam Levinson is a fan of Madeline's Madeline...

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Re: Euphoria

#14 Post by Cronenfly » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:22 pm

I’m glad you see that too, I was just thinking about this the last couple of days. Zendaya and Helena Howard feel like similar presences in their respective projects, and the addiction/mental health angle is strong in both (or at least in the main plot of Euphoria). As to the final sequence of Euphoria S1, I think it is as much Sam Levinson ripping off himself, as Assassination Nation ends with a parade that feels very similar to me. I do think there is a strong connection between the Levinson and the Decker but I think there are enough differences that I would not be too hard on Levinson. I enjoyed both individually and it took me a while to tweak to the fact that they are so simpatico.

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Re: Euphoria

#15 Post by ianthemovie » Sun Sep 01, 2019 1:44 pm

My comparison to Madeline's Madeline was meant to be more of a general observation than a criticism. I seem to like Euphoria quite a bit more than the average critic considering what a mixed reception it's gotten, and I'd say I prefer it to the Decker film!

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Never Cursed
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Re: Euphoria

#16 Post by Never Cursed » Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:01 am

Season 2 is already well in development and may start filming as early as January, per an Elle interview with Zendaya

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Never Cursed
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Re: Euphoria

#17 Post by Never Cursed » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:38 pm

A casting call for teen actors states that Season 2 of this starts filming in March

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Re: Euphoria

#18 Post by Never Cursed » Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:19 pm

This won three Emmys - both in the expected categories of Makeup (Doniella Davy) and Original Song (Labrinth), and in the surprise upset category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Zendaya). I could not be happier.

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Re: Euphoria

#19 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:58 pm

Good for Zendaya, she gave one of the better addict perfs in recent memory. Wish Hunter Schafer was nominated tho, she was on par for very different reasons. It’s rare to feel so aligned with a character that plays the less surrogate-congruent role, inconsistently fluttering between deep intimate trust and paradoxical behavior that keeps us both at a distance but still comprehensible teetering just away from nebulous. Perhaps the subtler pick, but also a trickier part to get so right.

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Re: Euphoria

#20 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Dec 05, 2020 3:23 pm

I’m not sold on Euphoria as a collectively great work, as I have some issues with sensationalized aspects of the narrative. However, Trouble Don’t Last Always, the first of two special episodes, plays like a short feature-length film, and I need to state- not from the rooftops but in a quiet gasp- that Levinson has made the single most right presentation of recovery I’ve ever seen.

Outside of a beguiling opening scene that visually sells us on the beautiful allure that prevents Zendaya from focusing on herself and staying sober, this comprehensive bullet of truth is a stripped down conversation in the vein of My Dinner with Andre for the next generation. The dialogue isn’t focused solely on addiction or program-talk, because Levinson- openly in recovery himself- knows that this isn’t what recovery is all about. There is plenty of pop culture commentary, which isn’t utilized for comic and macro-poignant filler, but is positioned in the service of delivering a critical point of empowerment through humility, to meditate on the willingness to see a bigger picture. Perspectives regarding relationships and expectations are brought into a holistic framework that really explains what recovery means, not depending on or blaming other people or things, but working on ourselves. I’ve never seen a film about addiction or recovery that has made me cry offhand. The best ones are nod-a-thons, and strike an emotional chord, but I found myself in tears multiple times during this film- for about every reason one cries, and simultaneously for no ‘reasons’ at all, transcending logical links to a space more enigmatic and spiritual. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on both sides of this restaurant table, had both perspectives and had similar conversations- some posturing at verbatim clones; maybe it's because the "forgiveness is the key to change" approach to rehabilitation is a self-proven philosophy that still isn't easy to practice consistently; or because the rigidity around "living up to one's belief system" of the ways things should be, as the primary source of self-poison rooted in depending on expectations, is what still plagues me to this day; or because Zendaya's response to all of it- agreeing and still not feeling able to take the bait, solidifying the brutal truth that there is no 'key' in sobriety that can take the place of the magic escape of a substance- is as hard to hear from my couch as it has been to hear from some sponsees -one of who died a few years ago at the age of Zendaya's character- as it is was to feel myself in her position many years ago. I don't know, but the explosion I experienced as a result of the response to a question about being a good person late in the film was the most surprising emotional reaction I've had without sensing the bubbles rising since childhood. It's raw and it's real and it's the best twofer play I've ever seen, one that Levinson should bring to the stage. The world would be a better, more understanding place if more people saw this.

You don’t even really need to see the first season to get anything out of it, though it’ll spoil some of the drama if you skip it. As an isolated film, it works just as well, and I’m confident that if I watched this without any context it would have the same effect. This is one of the best films of the year, a surprise dark horse swooping in to break me back down to surrender and become reborn again.

Also, I love the layered implications of an HBO program, a capitalist organization interested in business ties, having the audacity to say outright:
SpoilerShow
“Fuck you Nike!”
which may not be unique, but in a subtle context indirectly drops allegiance to monetary systemic relationships in order to support the prioritization of humanistic concerns through these people’s truths. It’s the warmest move HBO can probably make in passively granting an additional shade of permission to speak as honestly and boldly as Levinson needs to, aiding this transparent expression of the complexities of recovery, that bleeds sincerity and empathy across the screen unconditionally.

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Never Cursed
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Re: Euphoria

#21 Post by Never Cursed » Sat Dec 05, 2020 8:08 pm

Wonderfully said, TWBB. This is one of the most empathetic, introspection-encouraging films I've seen in a long time in its universal and judgement-free (the film makes a strong case against one's personal moral frameworks being the end-all method of determining good people from bad) message of digging deep and freeing oneself from self-hatred. I can easily imagine how one could extrapolate the various tangents and lines of conversation to any situation or personal problem in spite of the specificity of what the show is discussing. (I myself will carry two of those monologues with me, one about self-reinvention and the other about forgiveness, for a while). Watching this felt validating and personally cathartic in a way that I've always associated more with therapeutic interactions than even with films about mental and emotional struggles, so I am happy to co-sign any claims of the film doing something unique with those elements.

On a side note, I haven't seen it mentioned in any writing about the episode (though there is a lot of interest to focus on), but Colman Domingo is really good here. He's always had a keen ability to project a certain warmth in opposition to tension (thinking especially of his short appearance in If Beale Street Could Talk), and he uses that to great advantage here, organically inhabiting all the roles available to someone who wants to be seen as a mentor.

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Re: Euphoria

#22 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Dec 05, 2020 8:24 pm

I agree regarding the universality of what's discussed, and while the specifics to addiction are important, they follow the philosophy that these programs are disguised as focused only on getting and staying sober when they're really about living better, and being better, in all respects. Colman Domingo is the best part of this episode by far (and that's no knock on Zendaya, who is more than up for her role as a sparring partner). For my money, he stands right next to Mariana di Girolamo (from Ema) as year's very best performances, and just like her I fully believed that he was a real person in every breath he took and every movement he made.

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Never Cursed
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Re: Euphoria

#23 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Dec 07, 2020 4:43 pm

Second special, titled "Fuck Anyone Who's Not a Sea Blob" and co-written by Levinson and Hunter Schaefer, will focus on Jules and will premiere January 24

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