Toxic Manic Dream Girl: A Look At HBO’s Euphoria.
Written By: Ash Catcher
Like most trending, and popular things I am once again late to this party. Not going to lie like 2 weeks ago maybe 3 cause timelines have been sticking together lately. I have never even heard of this show Euphoria. Apparently season 1 came out around 2019, I am all about a predominantly female cast, however I can't help but notice a few things about this show that raises a glittery eyebrow, or two. Case in point I thought this trope was beaten to absolute shit in the late 2000’s but I guess not the whole idea of The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It seems like each of these female characters in the show try to pay a certain homage to this over excavated topic. But people are here for it. I had a lot more important things back in 2019, I had no time to dedicate to a show, especially a new one. However, after a few years life is getting progressively bleaker, and I have spent my lunch break researching eye creams and face serums because I’ll be approaching my 30’s in less than 6 months….. eh yeah sure I have some time to dedicate to this.
This show is without a doubt excellently casted, it's beautifully written, everyone's outfits, hair, and makeup are impeccable, a bit too much glitter for my taste kinda sounds like a crafting nightmare gone a rye, but to each their own. I noticed that the director, Sam Levinson is exceptionally well at casting younger actors that look exactly like their older counterparts, or Euphoria has a team of photoshop wizards, and witches. Yet with such technological advances, and creatives that HBO has access to, we are still hyper focused on sexualizing women, predominantly minors, because apparently all 24 year olds really look 15 to Hollywood. This is a good show do not get me wrong I liked it, I did binge watch it I just can’t ignore the perverseness that seems to at times outshine, how most of these female characters seem to always become “unhinged” at the sight of any man, and/or addictive substance. As much as unlikeable as one of the main characters is, I actually really feel bad for them.
I like the way this show plays with narrative. Our narrator, Rue, has substance abuse problems to put it nicely she is an addict, it doesn’t matter to what she will do it, and it Season 2 she does some pretty stupid shit that I am predicting she will 99.9% either overdose again for the 2nd time that we know about, or she is getting her ass human trafficked and Whelp this was a nice little show that ends after two seasons thank you, and goodnight. It is because of the way the director portrays addiction that intrigues me. Rue hides her drug use from her I guess Jules as her partner. But they're open. I am still trying to figure that out, I guess it's a complicated situation. Her Gf has no idea, I cannot tell you how many times I have actually found myself in that situation. I have had friends, family, partners, and I guess shesh at times sure I’ve been guilty of this once or twice. Unfortunately most of the time it is too late and one of two things can be found true: "This" their drug habit that they have squirreled away, has been going on way before you have even been in the picture and its not that they can't get better it is that they do not want to get better. That's the downward spiral talking. I find this to be another interesting thing about drug use especially in T.V. drugs are artfully glamorized. I don't know really why that is unless maybe Pharma has a hand or two in the media, oh wait never mind. This show is riddled with some really cringe moments, and at most times ends up contradicting itself entirely- but I kinda do that too.
Euphoria’s undeniable crutch on the "Unreliable Narrator” is something that we really do see a lot in television, and media outlets especially when portions of the story centers on opiates, and narcotics. This is all from Rue’s POV and if she is an addict, like I can probably count on one hand how many times she has been sober. While I like her as a character, I think it is ironic that she is chosen to break the 4th wall and become our narrator. She is simply unreliable and I just question everything she says and does. I have been doing that alot lately. This show, while visually appealing, is not suitable for someone who over-thinks as much as I do.
Some examples of The Unreliable Narrator in literature and Movies: Shutter Island, Gone Girl, American Psycho, Fight Club, YOU, The Bell Jar, Lolita, Naked Lunch, Joker, Memento, Mr. Robot, Hell even High Fidelity can be considered "Unreliable” we rarely get the other version of the story, or god forbid the actual truth. This is a very common theme, so is MPDG.
Let's circle back a bit, to that whole 500 Day of Summer, Blue Haired, quirky character trope. There is an underlying homage to mania presented in this show. When someone has a manic moment, a lapse in character, or judgement- who all of a sudden there is either complete and utter clarity, or a touch of sobriety seems to grace us, and the character. It's a quick little moment that is shared between the actors and the viewer. With this show there seems to be some pissing contest who can be crazier than the next character. It makes for a great story but also the reality of manic episodes are anything but fun. I hope that they choose to explore that route bit more, and how even minor characters seem to be able to stand alone and could have a whole show about them, I really liked a Spanish drama that ended up doing that, Elite’ and from the looks of my HBO Queue, Euphoria is following suite with stand alone one shots! Solid show I will continue to watch.
I guess the only thing everyone is collectively on is each other, and glitter.
See ya next week!