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Euphoria, Sky Atlantic review - teenage nervous breakdown | reviews, news & interviews

Euphoria, Sky Atlantic review - teenage nervous breakdown

Euphoria, Sky Atlantic review - teenage nervous breakdown

Gen-Z drama pushes the envelope of sex, drugs and emotional turmoil

Hunter Schafer as Jules (left), with Zendaya as Rue

Being a teenager used to be fun, allegedly, but for the young cast of HBO’s controversial new hit series Euphoria it looks more like a nightmare ride through a theme park of bad trips. Filmed in various Los Angeles locations, Euphoria (showing on Sky Atlantic) follows the interconnected stories of a group of teens battling with issues including drugs, sex, gender and family breakdown.

Anyone expecting lightweight escapism should look away now. Euphoria pulls no punches in its depiction of drug abuse, and its graphic, brutal sex sequences (episode one even shows an erect penis) have already startled American audiences.

We see the action through the eyes of Rue Bennett (played with deadly cool by Zendaya, familiar as the trapeze artist in The Greatest Showman), daughter of a mixed-race marriage and badly affected by the death of her father. A smartly-cut flashback sequence took us through her life so far, from being born three days after the 9/11 Twin Towers catastrophe into “a middle-class childhood in an American suburb” to a drug overdose which landed her in rehab. You might say she was born under a bad sign.

Returning from the clinic in a dreamy, slow-motion sequence typical of the show’s aura of heightened reality, she matter-of-factly observes that “I had no intention of staying clean.” To fool her mandatory drug tests, she borrows a urine sample from a close friend. She buys drugs from a stroppy kid who looks about 12, and lists his inventory of arcane narcotics with scientific thoroughness.

Rue’s voice-over commentary is delivered with pitch-black humour, like her explanation of why she doesn’t “drink and bike”, accompanied by a montage of her drunkenly crashing her bike into walls, cars and trees. The way she laconically informs us that “everyone on the planet watches porn – fact” suggests we’ve arrived in an affectless world where any moral values have been reset to zero. Meanwhile the lives of her friends and acquaintances range from the bizarre to the criminal. Especially obnoxious is Nate (Jacob Elordi, pictured above), a muscled-up jock obsessed with internet porn who treats women like contemptible objects fit only to be abused. In due course we’ll learn more about his psychological problems and what helped to cause them. Much more to come, too, about Jules Vaughn, the enigmatic new girl in town played by transgender fashion model Hunter Schafer.

Let’s hope Euphoria is supposed to be a cautionary tale rather than a design for living. Either way, it’s going to become a TV landmark.

 

It suggests we’ve arrived in an affectless world where moral values have been reset to zero

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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