Euphoria (American TV series)
Euphoria is an American teen drama television series created by Sam Levinson, loosely based on the Israeli miniseries of the same name originally created by Ron Leshem, Daphna Levin, and Tmira Yardeni. The series stars Zendaya and premiered on HBO on June 16, 2019. In July 2019, the series was renewed for a second season.
|Created by||Sam Levinson|
|Written by||Sam Levinson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||Los Angeles, California|
|Running time||54–61 minutes|
|Original release||June 16, 2019 –|
Cast and characters
- Zendaya as Rue Bennett, a 17-year-old recovering drug addict struggling to find her place in the world
- Maude Apatow as Lexi Howard, Rue's childhood best friend, and Cassie's younger sister
- Angus Cloud as Fezco, a local drug dealer with a close relationship to Rue
- Eric Dane as Cal Jacobs, Nate's father who is hiding secrets from his family
- Alexa Demie as Maddy Perez, Nate's on-again and off-again girlfriend
- Jacob Elordi as Nate Jacobs, a high school athlete whose anger issues mask his sexual insecurities
- Barbie Ferreira as Kat Hernandez, a body-conscious teen exploring her sexuality
- Nika King as Leslie Bennett, Rue and Gia's mother
- Storm Reid as Gia Bennett, Rue's 13-year-old younger sister
- Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn, a transgender girl who quickly befriends Rue after moving into town
- Algee Smith as Christopher McKay, a young football player and Cassie's boyfriend who is having difficulties adjusting to college
- Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard, Lexi's older sister and Christopher's girlfriend with an infamous sexual past that continues to affect her life
- Austin Abrams as Ethan Lewis, Kat's love interest
- Colman Domingo as Ali, a man in recovery from substance use disorder who often speaks at Rue's Narcotics Anonymous meetings
- Keean Johnson as Daniel, Kat's ex-boyfriend who takes an interest in Cassie
- Lukas Gage as Tyler Clarkson, a college student who is brutally attacked by Nate for having sex with Maddy at McKay's party
- Alanna Ubach as Suze Howard, Lexi and Cassie's alcoholic mother
- Sophia Rose Wilson as BB, a friend of Maddy, Kat, and Cassie
- Bruce Wexler as Robert Bennett, Rue's father
- Elpidia Carillo as Sonia Perez, Maddy's mother
- Ruben Dario as Ted Perez, Maddy's father
- Nolan Bateman as Wes, Kat's first hook up
- Tyler Timmons and Tristian Timmons as Troy McKay and Roy McKay, Christopher's twin brothers
- Javon Walton as Ashtray, Fezco's little brother
- Shiloh Fernandez as Trevor, a store clerk at Femme
- Will Peltz as Luke Kasten, a former East Highland student
- Nick Blood as Gus Howard, Cassie and Lexi's father
- Paula Marshal as Marsha Jacobs, Nate's mother
- Zak Steiner as Aaron Jacobs, Nate's brother
- Allie Marie Evans as Natalie, the school's cheerleader, and Nate's winter formal date
- John Ales as David Vaughn, Jules' father
- Pell James as Amy Vaughn, Jules's mother
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||"Pilot"||Augustine Frizzell||Sam Levinson||June 16, 2019||0.577|
|Teenager Rue Bennett returns home from rehab and immediately buys more drugs from her friend and drug dealer Fezco. Jules is a new girl in town taking summer school. Her classmate Kat invites her to a house party hosted by a popular college football player, Christopher McKay. Jules initially declines, opting instead to meet up with an older man from a hookup app. Rue gets home late one night and her mother forces her to take a drug test. In order to pass it, Rue acquires clean urine by asking her childhood friend Lexi for some of hers. Lexi's sister Cassie is dating McKay, who discusses Cassie's sexual past with his friend Nate. Jules arrives at the motel where the older man told her to meet him. She lies about her age and the two have sex, after which she makes her way to the party. At the party, Maddy, who recently broke up with Nate, has sex with a guy named Tyler in order to make Nate jealous. Meanwhile, Jules almost attacks Nate after he continually harassed her. Kat loses her virginity. Upon leaving, Jules runs into Rue, who goes home with her. As Nate returns home from the party, it is revealed that Jules' hookup was with Nate's father, Cal.|
|2||"Stuntin' Like My Daddy"||Sam Levinson||Sam Levinson||June 23, 2019||0.574|
|As a child, Nate is lectured by his father about being a man. One night, he discovers his father's hidden stash of homemade porn featuring gay men and trans women. He becomes a successful high school quarterback, but his adolescence is marked by anger issues, a discomfort around naked men, and an aggressive attitude towards Maddy. In the present day, Nate breaks into Tyler's house and physically assaults him, accusing him of raping Maddy, who falsely claimed she blacked out during the night of the party. On the first day of school, Rue breaks down in tears and runs out of gym class after being asked to talk about her summer, during which her overdose took place. Lexi attempts to comfort her, but is rejected. Rue reminisces about trying oxycodone for the first time at the age of 13, while her father was dying of cancer. Kat finds out that a sex tape from the party was filmed and uploaded online, but denies it is her. After finding more copies of the video online, Kat realizes that she can make money off of men's attraction to her. Jules starts talking with an anonymous closeted jock online. Rue finds Fezco with a drug dealer, who forces Rue to take fentanyl while Fezco watches. Afterwards, Fezco calls Jules for help with Rue's deteriorating situation. Meanwhile, McKay visits Cassie and is frustrated at her for making their interactions so sexually charged. It is revealed that the man Jules is talking to online is Nate. She asks what his name is, and he tells her it is "Tyler".|
|3||"Made You Look"||Sam Levinson||Sam Levinson||June 30, 2019||0.493|
|While on vacation, a young Kat abruptly gains weight. Her boyfriend Daniel breaks up with her, and she is ostracized by her peers. Later, she becomes a popular online fan fiction writer. In the present, Kat starts hosting cam sessions and uses the money to buy a new wardrobe. Following the fentanyl incident, Jules tells Rue she will not be friends with her if she keeps using drugs. At her Narcotics Anonymous meeting, Rue talks about being 60 days sober, but another attendee named Ali reveals he knows Rue is lying. Later, Rue helps Jules take nude photos of herself after Nate sends her a "dick pic". Afterwards, Rue steals pills from Jules' kitchen. Cassie goes to a frat party with McKay, while a confused Maddy finds many dick pics on Nate's phone. Rue and Jules argue after Jules reveals her plans to meet "Tyler" alone at night. Later, Rue apologizes and ends up kissing Jules. An upset Rue goes to Fezco asking for more drugs, but, afraid for her well-being, he refuses to open his front door. Rue blames Fezco for causing her addiction and ultimately calls Ali for help.|
|4||"Shook One Pt. II"||Sam Levinson||Sam Levinson||July 7, 2019||0.609|
|As a young girl, Jules is admitted into a psychiatric hospital, experiencing bullying and inflicting self-harm on herself there. After leaving, she begins transitioning. In the present day, Rue meets with Ali and discusses her feelings for Jules. That night at the carnival, Nate and Maddy have an argument. While talking to Cal, McKay refuses to call Cassie his girlfriend because of her reputation, upsetting her. After Maddy and Cassie buy molly from Fezco and take it, Maddy makes a scene in front of Nate's family, while Cassie flirts with Daniel. Jules discovers that the man from the motel is Nate's father. Kat hangs out with Ethan, a classmate who has feelings for her, but leaves when she sees him talking to an attractive girl, and later has sex with a renowned graduate of her high school. With Jules' help, Rue searches for her sister Gia and eventually finds her stoned. Nate grabs Maddy by the throat and she confronts him about the photos from his phone, but agrees to let it go. Cal quietly talks to Jules about their encounter, but she reassures him she will not tell anyone about it. Jules meets with "Tyler" and discovers that it is Nate, who blackmails her using the nude pictures they sent each other. Afterwards, she goes to Rue's house and they kiss.|
|5||"'03 Bonnie and Clyde"||Jennifer Morrison||Sam Levinson||July 14, 2019||0.579|
|As a child, Maddy competes in beauty pageants, but her parents make her quit after reading a story about a pedophile who ran one. She meets Nate, and lies to him about being a virgin before they have sex and begin a relationship. In the present day, Rue tells her mother that she and Jules are dating, but Jules, uncomfortable with Rue's dependency on her, is more ambivalent. Maddy wears multiple layers of clothing to school to hide the bruises from Nate, but she passes out from exhaustion in class and the bruises are discovered by paramedics. Her mother decides to press charges, while Maddy is questioned by the police and Nate denies the allegations of violence against him. Cassie has been seeing Daniel since the carnival, but stops due to her relationship with McKay, who apologizes to Cassie about what happened at the carnival. Kat starts acting cold towards Ethan, who is confused as to why. Later, she hooks up with a clerk working at the mall. Jules is frustrated when Rue does not take her situation with Cal seriously. Ali does not believe that Rue and Jules' relationship will last, which scares Rue. In order to make amends with Lexi, Rue invites her to go rollerskating with her and Jules. Cal questions the effects of keeping what he is doing a secret from his kids. Later, Maddy meets up with Nate at a motel and they reconcile.|
|6||"The Next Episode"||Pippa Bianco||Sam Levinson||July 21, 2019||0.569|
|Growing up, McKay is pressured by his father into becoming a successful football player. He faces additional mounting pressure from his peers in college, and realizes that he doesn't stand a chance of going pro. In the present day, Nate is temporarily expelled from school while he and Maddy continue to secretly meet at the motel. He breaks into Tyler's house and coerces him into confessing to choking Maddy. He also blackmails Jules into telling the police that she witnessed the alleged attack. Cassie attends a Halloween party with McKay at his fraternity, where he is violently hazed by some of his fraternity brothers, though he brushes it off and later has aggressive sex with Cassie, which leaves her in tears. Later that week, Daniel hosts a Halloween party, and Rue worries about Jules' erratic behavior, including heavy drinking and swimming in the pool in full costume before dragging Rue in. Rue apologizes to Fezco for lashing out at him. Kat continues to act coldly towards Ethan, but they later hook up. However, he finds her gone after he returns from cleaning up. When Cassie rejects Daniel's sexual advances, he insults her and asserts that he, like most men, is only interested in having sex with her. Cassie realizes her period is late. Nate and Maddy turn up to Daniel's party to applause from the partygoers and Rue becomes suspicious after seeing Jules' reaction.|
|7||"The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed"||Sam Levinson||Sam Levinson||July 28, 2019||0.549|
|Cassie experiences various difficulties during her childhood, including disturbing interactions with male relatives, as well as the tense divorce of her parents, which is followed by her father's descent into drug addiction and poverty. As she reaches adolescence, she frequently gets into exploitative sexual relationships with men, including one who posts a video of them having sex on the internet. In the present, Rue falls into a deep depression, alternating between manic episodes and an unwillingness to do anything, even urinate. She tells Fezco her suspicions about Nate and asks Fezco to intimidate him. He does so, but Nate retaliates by alerting the police to Fezco's drug dealings, forcing Fezco and his 10-year-old brother Ashtray to frantically dispose of their drugs when the police show up. After Kat has sex with Daniel at the Halloween party and is upset by his dismissive attitude afterwards, she is confronted by Maddy, who berates her about her new personality. Cassie struggles with her desire to admit to McKay about both kissing Daniel and her pregnancy. She eventually reveals her pregnancy to McKay, who is overwhelmed and suggests she get an abortion. Jules visits TC, a friend from her old school, and meets TC's roommate Anna. Jules and Anna get high and have a sexual experience, during which Jules hallucinates about both Nate and Rue. She later texts Rue about how much she misses her.|
|8||"And Salt the Earth Behind You"||Sam Levinson||Sam Levinson||August 4, 2019||0.530|
|Rue and Jules reconcile as Rue recovers in the hospital after a kidney infection. Nate is unable to perform during sex with Maddy, who confronts him about his sexuality. He lashes out at her and later has a violent episode after an altercation with Cal. Maddy steals one of Cal's videos and watches it. Nate and Maddy break up, as do McKay and Cassie, who terminates her pregnancy. Fezco breaks into the house of Mouse's supplier and robs him in order to pay his debt to Mouse. Mouse later confronts him. At the winter formal, Maddy admits to Nate that they are not healthy for one another, while Kat seeks out Ethan and apologizes for her behavior. Ethan forgives Kat and they leave together. Jules flirts with Anna via text during the formal and later admits to Rue that she is in love with both her and Anna. Rue confronts Nate over the raid on Fezco's, Cal's sexual activities, and Nate's previous attraction to Jules. She threatens to expose Cal's escapades, and Nate taunts her about Jules' loyalty. On a whim, she asks Jules to leave town with her, but backs out at the last second; Jules leaves alone. Despondent, Rue has a flashback to the day her father died. In this memory, she gets high after her father's death, experiencing vivid hallucinations.|
On June 1, 2017, it was announced that HBO was developing an adaptation of the 2012 Israeli television series Euphoria created by Ron Leshem, Daphna Levin, and Tmira Yardeni. The production was expected to be written by Sam Levinson who was also set to executive produce alongside Leshem, Levin, Yardeni, Hadas Mozes Lichtenstein, Mirit Toovi, Yoram Mokadi, and Gary Lennon. Sam Levinson based the series on his own experiences as a teenager, including his struggles with drug addiction. "There is this consistent anxiety that I think exists in this generation, that I think, informed the whole filmmaking process..."
On March 13, 2018, HBO Programming President Casey Bloys announced at the INTV conference in Jerusalem that the network had given the production a pilot order. It was further announced that A24 Television would serve as a production company for the pilot.
On March 27, 2018, it was announced that Augustine Frizzell would direct the pilot episode and serve as co-executive producer. On July 30, 2018, it was announced that HBO had given the production a series order and that every episode of the series will be written by Levinson. Additional executive producers were to include Drake, Future the Prince, Ravi Nandan, and Kevin Turen, while production companies involved included A24 Television.
On June 5, 2018, it was announced that the pilot would star Zendaya, Storm Reid, Maude Apatow, Brian "Astro" Bradley, Eric Dane, Angus Cloud, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Hunter Schafer, and Sydney Sweeney. On October 31, 2018, it was reported that Algee Smith had been cast to replace Brian "Astro" Bradley in the series regular role of McKay, which Bradley had played in the pilot episode. It was further reported that Austin Abrams had also been cast in the series.
Euphoria's score was composed by English singer, songwriter, and record producer Labrinth. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he stated, "When you look back to your teenage days, it feels semi-magical but semi-crazy and semi-psychotic. I wanted to make sure the music felt like those things." The song "All for Us", performed by Labrinth and Zendaya, is hinted throughout season one, but has the large musical number acted out at the very end of the season finale.
The show's premiere averaged 577,000 viewers in its time slot, a number which increased to one million following the same-night linear replay and preliminary viewing on HBO Go/Now. The hashtag #EuphoriaHBO trended number one in the United States and number three worldwide on Twitter after the premiere.
The series was met with a positive response from critics, with much of the praise going to its acting, story, visuals, and approach to mature subject matter. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the first season has a positive score of 83%, with an average rating of 7.34/10 based on 86 critical reviews, resulting in it being designated "Certified Fresh". The website's critical consensus summary notes that Euphoria is sometimes challenging viewing, but balances the blunt realism with compassion. It also praises the art direction and singles out Zendaya for her performance, stating it as essential to the success of the show. Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 67 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Ben Travers of IndieWire praised the show's authenticity and how HBO "grounds itself in stark reality." As well, he praised Zendaya's performance and narration, and how she manages to fulfill the leading role. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised Zendaya's performance and the handling of the subject matter. Pilot Vireut of Observer praised the show as being visually stunning, as well as the ensemble performance, but criticized the writing as "shaky, filled with clunky lines", and recommended that the show "keep its focus narrow".
The series garnered criticism from the Parents Television Council after it was reported that one of the episodes contained "close to 30 penises [flashing] onscreen" and the onscreen statutory rape of a character. The Parent Television Council criticized the show for marketing "graphic adult content" towards teens.
Awards and nominations
In 2019, Zendaya won a People's Choice Award for Drama TV Star of 2019 for her portrayal of Rue Bennett. The series' makeup artists, Doniella Davy and Kristen Coleman, have been nominated in the Television & New Media Series: Best Contemporary Makeup category at the Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylist Guild Awards. Production designer Kay Lee has been nominated in the Art Directors Guild Awards for One-Hour Contemporary Single-Camera Series.
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