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Euphoria, an American teen drama television series created and written by Sam Levinson for HBO,  aired on June 16, 2019.  The series’ main character Rue Bennett, portrayed by Zendaya who is a recovering teenage drug addict who is struggling to find her place in the world. Euphoria also follows a group of high school students through their experiences of identity, trauma, drugs, self-harm, family, friendships, love, and sex. But ultimately, the series renewed for a second season in July 2019. Two one-hour specials were aired in December 2020 and January 2021. The second season aired on January 9, 2022, and in February 2022 the series was already renewed for a third season.

Euphoria’s executive producers are Levinson, Zendaya, Ron Leshem, and Gary Lennon. Euphoria filmed at Ulysses S. Grant High School in Los Angeles, California as well as Sony Studios in Culver City, California. The show has received mixed reviews due to the nature of the show. Though the show has gained praise for its cinematography, plot, score, performances of the cast (particularly Zendaya, Schafer, and Sweeney). Furthermore, critics have praised Euphoria’s approach to its mature subject matter. In the history of HBO, Euphoria is the second most watched show.

This show is extremely controversial for its graphic nudity and sexual content. Some critics found the nudity excessive due to the teenage setting. The show also shows graphic drug use, as well as uses extremely explicit language. The recommended age for this show is  18+.

The series has received numerous awards and nominations. Some of them including nominations for the British Academy Television Award for Best International Programme. As well as the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama. For her performance in Euphoria, Zendaya won multiple awards. The awards she won are the Primetime Emmy Award. She also won a Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series.

  • Season 1 (2019)

    E.1 – “Pilot”
    As a child, Rue Bennett struggled with mental disorders and her father’s death from cancer, which led to a drug addiction. Now 17, Rue returns home from rehab and immediately buys drugs from her friend and drug dealer Fezco (“Fez”). Jules Vaughn, a transgender girl who is new in town, is invited by Kat Hernandez, a classmate, to a party hosted by popular college freshman Christopher McKay. Jules decides to first meet up at a motel with an older man from a hookup app. She lies about her age and they have sex. At the party, Kat loses her virginity. McKay and his girlfriend Cassie Howard have an uncomfortable sexual encounter, but discuss it tenderly. Maddy Perez, who recently broke up with star quarterback Nate Jacobs, has public revenge sex with a partygoer known as Tyler. Angered by this, Nate drunkenly harasses Jules, who threatens Nate with a knife before cutting herself. Jules leaves the party, accompanied by Rue, who introduces herself and goes home with her. As Nate returns home, he encounters his father, Cal, who was Jules’s hookup.

    E.2 – “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”
    An 11-year-old Nate discovers his father’s collection of homemade videos featuring him having sex with young gay men and transgender women. Nate becomes a successful quarterback who struggles with anger issues and sexual insecurities. In the present, Nate breaks into Tyler’s house and severely beats him, accusing him of raping Maddy at McKay’s party after Maddy falsely tells him she blacked out. On the first day of school, Rue breaks down after being asked to talk about her summer. Cassie’s sister Lexi attempts to comfort her, but Rue lashes out at her. Rue reminisces about trying oxycodone for the first time at 13, stealing from her father’s prescription. Kat discovers that a video of her having sex at McKay’s party is circulating online and realizes she can make money as a camgirl. Jules starts messaging with Nate, who impersonates Tyler, while McKay spends time with Cassie and accuses her of being too sexually forward. Mouse, Fezco’s intimidating supplier, coerces Rue into trying fentanyl.

    E.3 – “Made You Look
    A young Kat abruptly gains weight on a family vacation. Her middle-school boyfriend, Daniel, breaks up with her. She retreats into the world of romance and becomes a popular online fan fiction writer. In the present, Kat starts to work as a camgirl, catering to a series of submissive men with financial domination fetishes. Jules tells Rue she will stop being friends with her if she keeps using drugs. At her Narcotics Anonymous meeting, Rue says she is 60 days sober; another attendee, Ali, tells her he knows she is lying. Rue helps Jules take nude photos of herself after Nate sends her a dick pic, and she steals pills from Jules’s kitchen. Maddy is shocked to find dick pics on Nate’s phone. Rue and Jules argue after Jules reveals her plans to meet “Tyler” alone at night. Shortly thereafter, Rue goes to Jules’s house to apologize and ends up kissing her. Panicked at the thought of alienating Jules, Rue visits Fez to get drugs, but, afraid for her well-being, he refuses to sell her any and locks her out of his house. Upset, Rue blames Fez for her addiction. She calls Ali for help.

    E.4 – “Shook Ones Pt. II”
    An 11-year-old Jules is admitted to a psychiatric hospital because of her gender dysphoria and issues with self-harm. Later, she begins transitioning. In the present day, at a carnival, Nate and Maddy have an argument, and Nate grabs her by the throat after she insults his family. McKay upsets Cassie by refusing to acknowledge her as his girlfriend. Cassie and Maddy take MDMA, and Cassie flirts with a classmate, Kat’s childhood sweetheart Daniel. Jules recognizes Cal as her hookup. Kat hangs out with a classmate, Ethan (who has a crush on her), but becomes jealous when she incorrectly assumes he is flirting with another girl and ends up having sex with an older boy. Rue looks for her sister, Gia, and finds her high on marijuana. Cal confronts Jules, begging her not to reveal their secret; she assures him that she will not tell anyone. After the carnival, Jules meets up with “Tyler” and discovers he is Nate. Nate then threatens to report the nudes Jules has sent him as child pornography unless she keeps quiet about her relationship with his father. Jules goes to Rue’s house and they kiss.

    E.5 – “’03 Bonnie and Clyde”
    As a child, Maddy lost interest in the idea of working after her mother stopped her from participating in beauty pageants. She eventually found herself in a toxic relationship with Nate, culminating in his attack on her at the carnival. In the present day, Rue tells her mother that she is dating Jules. Maddy tries to hide the injuries on her neck, but they are discovered after she passes out at school and a police investigation begins; Maddy’s mother presses charges against Nate. Jules gets frustrated when Rue dismisses her situation with Cal. Ali does not believe that Rue’s and Jules’s relationship will last, scaring Rue. Cassie reconciles with McKay, who apologizes for his behavior at the carnival. Kat is cold toward Ethan, who does not understand why. Kat has a sexual encounter with a clothing store clerk about whom she had previously fantasized. Rue apologizes to Lexi for having been a bad friend and invites her to go roller skating with her and Jules. Cal questions the effects his secret sexuality has had on his children. Maddy meets Nate at a motel. After rollerskating, Jules takes Rue home with her, but cannot sleep.

    E.6 – “The Next Episode”
    Growing up, McKay is coached by his father to become a successful football player. When he reaches college, he realizes he has little chance of being recruited by a professional team. In the present day, Nate is suspended from school and socially ostracized. Nate breaks into Tyler’s apartment and coerces him into confessing to choking Maddy. He also blackmails Jules into telling the police that she saw Tyler attack Maddy. Cassie attends a Halloween party with McKay, where he is violently hazed by his fraternity brothers. He then has aggressive sex with Cassie, which leaves her in tears. The next night, Daniel hosts a party. Rue worries about Jules, who is drinking heavily and expresses uncertainty about her relationship. Rue apologizes to Fez for lashing out at him. Kat hooks up with Ethan but ditches him when he visits the bathroom. When Cassie refuses to have sex with Daniel, he insults her. At home, Cassie realizes her period is late. Nate and Maddy arrive at Daniel’s party and are applauded by the partygoers. Rue becomes suspicious when she sees Jules’s reaction.

    E.7 – “The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed”
    Cassie’s parents get divorced when she is in her early teens. After a car crash, her father descends into drug addiction and poverty and abandons their family. She frequently enters exploitative sexual relationships with her peers until she meets McKay. In the present, Rue falls into a manic depression after Jules grows distant, causing her bladder to shut down. After she and Lexi figure out what Nate did to Jules, Rue asks Fez to intimidate him. He does so, but Nate retaliates by anonymously reporting Fez to the police, forcing Fez and Ashtray to dispose of their stash when the police come to their home. Maddy confronts Kat over her new, assertive persona. Kat ends a cam session with a high-paying client when it makes her uncomfortable. Cassie tells McKay she is pregnant. He is overwhelmed and suggests she get an abortion. Jules visits TC, a friend from her old town, and meets TC’s roommate, Anna. Jules and Anna go clubbing, take psychedelics, and share a sexual experience, during which Jules hallucinates about both Nate and Rue. She texts Rue the next morning to tell her that she misses her.

    E.8 – “And Salt the Earth Behind You”
    Rue and Jules reconcile as Rue recovers in the hospital after a kidney infection. Nate is unable to sexually perform with Maddy, who confronts him about his sexuality, after which Nate attacks her. Maddy steals the video of Cal and Jules that Nate has in his possession, later watching it in shock. Nate wins his final high-school football game, but Cal criticizes his performance. Nate attempts to fight him, but after being subdued, begins to hit himself, leaving Cal shaken. Cassie terminates her pregnancy with her family’s support. Fez breaks into Mouse’s supplier’s house and robs him in order to pay Mouse. At their school’s winter formal, Kat seeks out Ethan and apologizes for her behavior. Rue confronts Nate, threatening to expose Cal. Nate taunts her about Jules’s loyalty. After spending the night trying to make each other jealous, Nate and Maddy decide to peacefully end their relationship. Jules tells Rue that she is in love with both her and Anna. Rue and Jules decide to run away from their town together, but Rue backs out at the last minute and Jules leaves on a train alone. A heartbroken Rue returns home and relapses, before experiencing a vivid, musical hallucination.

    Specials (2020–21)

    E.1 – “Trouble Don’t Last Always” “Part 1: Rue”
    On Christmas Eve, after her relapse, an intoxicated Rue sits at a diner with Ali to reflect on her addiction. Rue admits that she willingly relapsed; Ali reminds her that addiction is a disease, and emphasizes the importance of committing to a cause greater than herself. Rue attempts to blame Jules for her relapse, but Ali points out that Rue had been saving the pills she took, suggesting that she was never serious about staying clean. He also notes that Rue never officially acknowledged her relationship with Jules. Rue eventually admits that she feels guilty about her treatment of her family (particularly her mother) and that she is suicidal. Ali argues that drugs fundamentally change a person; he reveals that he grew up with an abusive father for whom he harbored deep hatred, only to become violent with his wife after developing a drug addiction, estranging his daughters. Ali tells Rue that a refusal to forgive oneself for one’s mistakes is what prevents personal growth, and that he has faith in her ability to improve.

    E.2 – “Fuck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob” “Part 2: Jules
    On Christmas Eve, after her relapse, an intoxicated Rue sits at a diner with Ali to reflect on her addiction. Rue admits that she willingly relapsed; Ali reminds her that addiction is a disease, and emphasizes the importance of committing to a cause greater than herself. Rue attempts to blame Jules for her relapse, but Ali points out that Rue had been saving the pills she took, suggesting that she was never serious about staying clean. He also notes that Rue never officially acknowledged her relationship with Jules. Rue eventually admits that she feels guilty about her treatment of her family (particularly her mother) and that she is suicidal. Ali argues that drugs fundamentally change a person; he reveals that he grew up with an abusive father for whom he harbored deep hatred, only to become violent with his wife after developing a drug addiction, estranging his daughters. Ali tells Rue that a refusal to forgive oneself for one’s mistakes is what prevents personal growth, and that he has faith in her ability to improve.

  • Season 2 (2020)

    E.1 – “Trying to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door”
    As a child, Fezco was taken in by his grandmother, who introduced him to the drug trade. In a continuation of a scene from the season one finale, Ashtray kills Mouse with a hammer. On New Year’s Eve, an intoxicated Rue accompanies Fez and Ashtray to an intense drug deal, in which Rue and a new character, Faye, are violently forced to strip down to prove that they aren’t wearing wires, before attending a large house party. At a convenience store, a drunken Cassie runs into Nate, who offers her a ride to the party; upon arriving, the two have sex in a bathroom and are nearly caught by Maddy, forcing Cassie to hide in the bathtub. Rue takes a concoction of drugs with a boy named Elliot and nearly enters cardiac arrest before taking Adderall to stabilize her heartrate. Outside, she and Jules reunite, where Rue tells Jules that she relapsed the night Jules left her at the train station. Later, the two confess their feelings for each other and kiss. Fezco has a conversation with Lexi and they exchange phone numbers. He then confronts Nate and viciously beats him until the other partygoers intervene and stop him.

    E.2 – “Out of Touch”
    Nate recovers from his beating in the hospital and refuses to tell his father who attacked him. He finds himself strongly attracted to Cassie, who has been undergoing a depressive episode since her abortion and feels uneasy without a boyfriend. Cassie continues to see Nate despite the guilt she feels for supposedly betraying Maddy, who still loves Nate. One night while riding her bike, Rue witnesses Nate and Cassie kissing in his truck. Jules becomes insecure about Rue’s friendship with Elliot, unaware that the two are regularly taking drugs together. Kat begins losing interest in Ethan, fantasizing about more stereotypically masculine men and briefly becoming consumed by an online culture of toxic positivity. Cal begins investigating Nate’s assault and pressures Cassie into naming Fezco as the perpetrator; when Lexi decides to visit Fezco and get his attention, Cal and Fezco have a tense standoff at Fez’s convenience store, which Lexi witnesses. Cal then confronts Nate, who reveals that he is aware of Cal’s secret sexual exploits, including the video of him and Jules. Cal asks Nate whether he has the recording; Nate smiles without answering.

    E.3 – “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys”
    As a teenager, Cal felt a budding attraction to his friend Derek while dating his future wife, Marsha. Eventually, Cal made his feelings known to Derek, who reciprocated them, but Marsha’s unexpected pregnancy compelled Cal to stay with her and keep his sexual orientation hidden. Rue develops a plan to keep her drug use hidden from Jules and Gia while repairing Jules’s and Elliot’s relationship, covering up her other drug use with cannabis. When Rue runs out of drugs, she convinces schoolteacher turned drug supplier Laurie to give her a large stash, ostensibly for her to sell. Ali becomes suspicious of Rue, who insults him, leading him to cut ties with her. Cassie becomes obsessed with her covert romance with Nate, distancing herself from friends and family in the process. Lexi channels her frustration with Cassie, Rue, and her own introversion into writing a play, which she prepares to stage at school. Assuming that Fez has the video, Cal visits his house and is beaten and humiliated by Ashtray into admitting his indiscretions. He also learns of Jules’s and Nate’s relationship; Fez lets him leave on the condition that he ceases to pursue revenge against him and keeps Nate from further antagonizing Rue and Jules. One Friday night, Nate cancels his plans with Cassie to rekindle his relationship with Maddy.

    E.4 – “You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can”
    Jules kisses Elliot while Rue reflects on her love for Jules. Cassie ends her relationship with Nate after he admits to having resumed talking to Maddy. The Howards host a birthday party for Maddy. At the party, Kat admits to Maddy that she doesn’t love Ethan, and Maddy advises her to follow her feelings. Cassie gets excessively drunk; when Nate unexpectedly arrives and discusses his ongoing involvement with Maddy, Cassie changes into a revealing swimsuit and eventually vomits in front of the guests. Rue, Jules, and Elliot entertain themselves by playing Truth or dare? After narrowly escaping apprehension for stealing from a convenience store, Rue begins drinking in front of Jules; after Jules asks why she’s drinking, Rue grows angry and lashes out at her. After abandoning the group and returning home alone, Rue takes drugs and hallucinates her father in a church. Cal gets drunk and drives recklessly to the bar where he kissed Derek. After getting thrown out, he returns home and comes out to his family, scathingly criticizing them for their perceived hypocritical hostility to his closetedness. He abruptly chooses to leave them. Elliot confesses to Jules that Rue is not sober and that the two have been taking drugs together. Jules is devastated but sleeps with Elliot anyway.

    E.5 – “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird”
    Jules tells Leslie that Rue has relapsed, prompting her to purge Rue’s drug stash. Leslie, Jules, and Elliot confront Rue, causing her to have a violent breakdown during which she damages her house and angrily cuts ties with Jules and Elliot. Leslie attempts to take her to rehab again, but Rue flees her car while in traffic. While on the run, Rue begins to suffer the effects of withdrawal. As night falls, Rue flees to the Howard household, where Leslie stages an intervention with the help of Suze, Lexi, Cassie, Maddy, and Kat. Backed into a corner, Rue reveals Cassie’s relationship with Nate to the group, initiating a fight between Maddy and Cassie that allows Rue to escape in the chaos. She turns to Fezco for help, but he throws her out after she tries to steal his grandmother’s medication. Shortly after, Rue burglarizes a house, stealing drugs and jewelry. After being caught in the act by the homeowners after they arrive home, and escaping a police chase, Rue reaches Laurie’s residence. Laurie gives her morphine and, although she empathizes with Rue’s pain, insinuates that she will force her to become a prostitute to pay her debts. After dreaming about her father, Rue wakes up the next morning and escapes back home. Leslie sees Rue open the front door.

    E.6 – “A Thousand Little Trees of Blood”
    A few days after returning home from Laurie’s, Rue makes progress in recovering from withdrawal. She calls Ali and apologizes for what she said to him, and Ali comes over and cooks dinner for the Bennett family. Kat attempts to break up with Ethan in a foolish manner, leading him to decide to pull the plug on their relationship. Maddy ponders what to do after finding out the truth about Nate and Cassie, and discusses it with Samantha. As Cassie and Nate grapple with their secret being out, they fight with their respective mothers. After seeing the stress Cassie is under, Lexi wonders how her play is going to be received while hanging out with Fez. While taking out the trash, Faye sees Custer, who tells her that he is being forced to work with the cops to take down Fez and Ashtray for Mouse’s murder. Nate decides he must take matters into his own hands to protect his future and the Jacobs family business by threatening Maddy with a gun to hand over the disc. Nate gives the disc to Jules, and they reveal to each other they were not lying about their feelings when Nate was catfishing her the previous year. Nate calls Cassie and tells her she can stay with him while the drama blows over. Leslie finds out that no inpatient rehab facility has room for Rue and breaks down, fearing that she’ll kill herself without it.

    E.7 – “The Theater and Its Double”
    “Our Life” is performed for East Highland students, parents, and faculty. Lexi’s peers come to the realization that the play is based on their lives with their names changed. Earlier, Lexi is seen talking to Fezco as she worries that people will be upset by the play; he later promises to attend her play. The episode traverses between the present and past as the play depicts significant events and relationships from Lexi’s perspective: Rue’s father’s wake and her descent into addiction; Cassie going through puberty; Rue’s and Lexi’s friendship; Lexi’s relationship with her father; Cassie’s and Maddy’s friendship; and Maddy’s and Nate’s relationship. Custer arrives at Fezco’s house before the play starts and Ashtray is suspicious of him. Cassie and Nate continue their relationship despite his sustained feelings for Maddy and Jules. Leslie tells Rue she is done looking out for her and plans to focus on Gia. Jules destroys the disc Nate gave her. Feeling betrayed, Maddy vows to leave East Highland. Fezco fails to make it to Lexi’s play. The episode ends with a rendition of “Holding Out for a Hero”, depicting Nate’s character, played by Ethan, and other male students working out in a homoerotic manner. Nate angrily calls the scene “homophobic”, leaves the play early, and breaks up with Cassie, telling her to pack her things and leave his house.

    E.8 – “All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name”
    Custer tries to get Fezco to reveal his role in Mouse’s murder before Faye signals him to keep quiet. Realizing he is a police informant, Ash stabs Custer in the neck, much to Fezco’s dismay; Fezco suffocates Custer to keep him quiet as he dies and submerges his phone in a drink. Earlier, Lexi and Fezco discuss their plans for the future; they are both glad to have become friends. Rue visits Elliot to forgive him for snitching on her as she believes he might have saved her life. They agree they are not good for each other. In the present, an enraged Cassie disrupts the play to insult and mock Lexi but flees when Maddy chases her backstage and attacks her. Supported by her crew and the audience, Lexi continues the play and dedicates it to Fezco (without referring to him by name). The play concludes with Rue’s speech at her father’s wake and a heartfelt conversation between Rue and Lexi about life and loss; Rue later thanks Lexi for showing her a version of her life that she didn’t hate. Fezco pleads with Ash to surrender to the police, allowing Fezco to take the fall for Custer’s murder. Instead, Ash locks himself in the bathroom with several guns and engages in a shootout with the police, who shoot him and arrest a wounded Fezco. Nate confronts Cal with a gun and a flash drive containing all of Cal’s explicit videos, revealing his trauma from viewing the videos at a young age. Tipped off by Nate, the police arrive to arrest Cal. Cassie tells Maddy that Nate broke up with her before she lashed out on stage. Maddy tells Cassie that it’s “just the beginning”. After the play, Jules tells Rue she loves and misses her. Rue responds by kissing her on the forehead before leaving. As she walks out of the school, Rue narrates that she managed to stay clean for the rest of the school year and that she is cautiously hopeful about the future.

Critical response
On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a positive score of 80%, with an average rating of 7.3/10 based on 97 critical reviews. Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 68 out of 100, based on 26 critics

On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season received a “Certified Fresh” score of 81%, with an average rating of 7.2/10 based on 119 reviews. Metacritic assigned the season a score of 74 out of 100 based on 19 reviews.

Zendaya as Ruby “Rue” Bennett, a teenage drug addict who is fresh out of rehab and struggling to find her place in the world. She also serves as the series’ narrator.
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 strict, demanding father with a double life
Alexa Demie as Maddy Perez, Nate’s on-and-off girlfriend and later ex-girlfriend
Jacob Elordi as Nate Jacobs, a high school athlete whose anger issues mask his sexual insecurities
Barbie Ferreira as Kat Hernandez, a girl fighting for body positivity while exploring her sexuality
Nika King as Leslie Bennett, Rue and Gia’s mother
Storm Reid as Gia Bennett, Rue’s younger sister
Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn, a transgender girl who enters a turbulent relationship with Rue after moving into town
Algee Smith as Christopher McKay, a young football player and Cassie’s ex-boyfriend who has difficulties adjusting to college
Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard, Lexi’s older sister and McKay’s ex-girlfriend with an infamous sexual past that continues to haunt her
Colman Domingo as Ali Muhammed (“Trouble Don’t Last Always”; recurring seasons 1–2), a man in recovery from drug addiction who often speaks at Rue’s Narcotics Anonymous meetings and eventually becomes her sponsor
Javon “Wanna” Walton as Ashtray (season 2; recurring season 1), Fez’s unofficially adopted “little brother” and a drug dealer
Austin Abrams as Ethan Daley (season 2; recurring season 1), Kat’s love interest
Dominic Fike as Elliot (season 2-present), a new friend of Rue’s, who comes between her and Jules

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