Sunday, June 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'Euphoria' - Rue and Jules Meet During a Wild and Unpredictable Party at McKay's House in 'Pilot'

HBO's Euphoria - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

17-year-old Rue returns home from rehab with no plans to stay clean. She meets Jules, who's new in town, at a party at McKay's house. Nate gets in McKay's head when McKay takes an interest in Cassie. Nate and Maddy, who have broken up once again, attempt to make each other jealous. Kat is pressured to lose something.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of HBO's Euphoria.

"Pilot" was written by Sam Levinson and directed by Augustine Frizzell

This is a visceral and harrowing premiere that takes a blistering look at modern-day teenage life. It explains what it is like to grow up in a post-9/11 world where social media influences every day interactions and the connectivity of the internet means that people are exposed to everything the world has to offer at a younger age. So much of the story presented here follows Rue as she has just returned from a summer in rehab. She has no intentions of staying sober even though her younger sister found her after overdosing. Instead, she articulates how chasing that high is the only way to survive her life. It's one filled with panic attacks and the fear of all the air being sucked out of her lungs. The show paints such an expressive portrait of addiction and how it informs every single thing that Rue does. She is a crafty individual who knows all the tricks to hide her addiction and fool her loved ones into believing that it no longer controls her daily life. It does because it's the only way for her to cope. And yet, that's also such a commonplace thing in this particular world. Yes, a lot of this premiere is just Rue's observations of the world as told from an unknown point in the future. She's also an unreliable narrator. When Rue goes to Lexi and Cassie's house, there are two distinct tellings of that moment with the differences being treated as not a big deal whatsoever. That's the way that Rue experiences life. Sometimes she is active and aware of everything that's going on. Other times, it's just difficult for her to care. It may mean the show feels the importance of cutting back to cover that this is something that Rue heard but didn't allow the audience to also experience in that particular moment. But this is also a show in which all of the teenagers are feeling this pressure to be sexual and partake in drugs and partying. It's such a familiar trope in the high school genre. And yet, this show presents such a stark image in which it's a complete breakdown of all social norms. It's terrifying to see the situations these teenagers get themselves into. They are all exposed to these influences and feel compelled to act accordingly. That's scary. It means that they have sex just because they believe they are suppose to be having sex by this point. They then act aggressively during sex because that's the way they have always seen it portrayed in porn. That too is a biting commentary on how this is a generation in which one's beliefs is informed by what is seen on a screen instead of coming to that determination based on one's own experiences. As such, there could be distance placed between the action and how it emotionally impacts these characters. Some are happy to have sex for the first time or make their ex jealous. But there are plenty of life-threatening and criminal moments as well. Jules is a newcomer to this town and is already sneaking off to have anonymous sex with middle aged men. These themes and experiences project maturity. It makes these teens feel like they are older than they actually are. But it's still wildly irresponsible of them. But these are the opportunities afforded to them by life at the moment. It's a dazzling array of choices that force people into these situations from a young and vulnerable age. That means they are already dealing with the bleak consequences. Rue was in rehab after all. That hasn't changed her ways though. Jules cuts herself just to ensure nothing more happens to her body. That shows the carelessness also on display and how these characters can be removed from the actual actions. That could be very self-destructive and problematic for the show overall. And yet, it makes for an effective premiere.