WHY EUPHORIA IS THE GOAT
Cassavetes said it best when he said that these people are floundering around and not being lead by anybody of any responsibility.
This was in reference to Hollywood in the 7os and its lack of ability to respect its audience by refusing to dare to produce art in the face of the corporate mechanizations that maintained a precedent in the industry.
Baldwin once said, in a completely separate vein, in response to the nation’s inability to hold itself accountable of past crimes and misdeeds, that essentially, the country needed to grow up.
This was in the 6os, in regards to the conundrum concerning race relations at the time, involving white guilt, and white privilege, but is also a statement that can be applied to the immature psyche of this country as a whole.
Hence, it doesn’t surprise me now that the comprehension and understanding of an object like Euphoria can become loss in its mass reception and popularity despite the design of its core, operating, at best, as a purely empathetic engine for internal change.
Ironically enough, much like the mentality of high school itself, the general criticism (if it can even be labeled as such) and the media responses to the programming of the show is primarily centered and focused in, and around gossip, here-say, and speculation, while elevating the cast members into iconic cultural phenoms placed on pedestals of high praise and popularity. Though the cast is fantastic, praising their celebrity without acknowledging their work, overshadowing it with trivia and idolization, diminishes the craftwork they’ve exhibited to even be considered for such praise.
Ultimately, as interesting as this stuff may be to some, none of it is actually relevant to what fundamentally ends up on screen, or is reflective of the themes being explored within the subtextual interior of the piece’s mainframe.
Euphoria is a fearless entity that makes bold decisions to demonstrate earnest depictions of aspects of the culture and society that produced it, and firmly stands behind its decisions, even as it handles rough or heavy material, it does so with a mindful sophistication that provides a value more substantial than what is merely being presented in its images. Through its brutal attempted portrayals of honesty, it is simultaneously poignant and inspiring, mostly because it is so succinct. And this is why every media outlet and major publication is afraid to intimately engage with Euphoria on the level that the show demands, because if they were to truly touch, prod, and unpack all the intricate complexities that the show has to offer its audience, the face of society seen in the reflection of the show’s mirror might lead to a cultural rectification of itself, and ultimately a lesson for positive growth, which history tells us is a concept the western world struggles to confront.
The heavily pumping, and pulsating vein running life-blood into the heart of the second season, functioning as a shade beneath the plot is the notion of redemption. The foundation laid in the previous season was a formulaic tool manifesting itself in the form of the backstory, so as to provide the audience with emotional depth and context of these characters, opposed to the introductory stereotypical 2-Dimensional illustrations of generic high school tropery, leading to an understanding of the agency each character possesses over their own autonomy and choices, so even if you do not align or agree with decisions made by each individual, the audience can find the humanity in the pathology of the pain and suffering that shaped them through their adolescence into their teenage years, understanding that all of these people are by-products of circumstance. The application of this mechanic allows for the storytelling to function properly, providing the audience with an investment necessary to resonate with not only the worth of these fictitious characters as people deserving of their sympathy, but as well of those who actually exist in the world outside of the screen.
And here lies the empathy that Euphoria aims to bestow upon its audience as a gift for accepting the notion of being mindful of lives other than your own, because if the audience can acknowledge that the lives depicted on screen are not only worthy of their time, but their concern, then they now possess the ability to apply that in their own lives. And again, Euphoria works as a mirror to accentuate not only the flaws of its characters, but the flaws of the current zeitgeist of modern culture and society.
Much like in the way that Lexi’s play reflected her reality back upon itself, Euphoria is literally showcasing its role and purpose in society, justifying its own existence and value within the material itself. Lexi is not trying to harm, damage, nor move with malice, but to help, heal, and aid those close to her who find themselves lost on a path of self-sabotage, and she shines a light on the darkness to show them aspects of themselves they might be too close to or are too blind to see, while simultaneously not excluding herself from the narrative, exposing insecure aspects of herself, and telling her truth.
Our Life is a title that encompasses the soul of Euphoria as it showcases the power of art as medicine, and Euphoria itself makes its claims crystal clear by stating its thesis to justify its existence within the material of the show, practically shouting through the screen that it is only there to serve. But in its bravery to tell the truth, there will always be a Cassie or Nate in denial, who cannot handle what they see in the mirror and will reject it, and thus that seems to be what is happening in many published posts, articles, and commentary surrounding the show. Negating the fact that this program is performing its function out of an act of love, though a tough love, but love indeed. A plea for tenderness in an era of judgment and condemnation; an era of cancellation, virtue signaling, identity politics, political correctness, and representation. And when the show rejects these things that a more liberal culture wants to see reflected, yet is entirely self-aware of them, but instead decides to go to bat for human decency, meeting people where they’re at, giving them the space to grow, learn for themselves from their mistakes, and to be given the chance to be better people despite shit they’ve done in their past — well, that’s not what the culture wants to see bounced back at them. The nuance goes under-appreciated when the expectation is to find validity in what the culture wants regurgitated back into its own mouth, completely blindsided by its own ideas of self-righteous behavior.
The author of the piece is desperately trying to convey to the audience that your mistakes, flaws, short comings, and the fucked up shit that’s happened to you doesn’t necessarily define who you are, but shaping change into developmental growth can only be beneficial to you if it is you, yourself, who wants to make it happen so that you can be a better person for yourself, which can only occur through your willingness to participate in your own recovery. The piece is about the discipline of wielding one’s own will and the difficulty of the day-in and day-out struggle to maintain one’s level of balance, while also being able to truly hold one’s self accountable. The piece demonstrates that there is no trick to the maintenance of self-work, and that everyday a deliberate choice has to be made to avoid slipping back into self-destructive behaviors. That is the parable of Euphoria, identifiable by anyone willing to hear the music, or “see the poetry,” as it is written into the show. Making the words of Ali, a character who is the metaphorical embodiment of everything the show represents, the perfect words to close the second season on:
“The thought of maybe being a good person, is what keeps me trying to be a good person.”
**WARNING: QUIK SHAMELESS FAWNING & PRAISE FOR THIS SHOW, ESP. SEASON 2**
**Just real quick: Euphoria is also the GOAT because the writing is impeccable, the interpretation of the text is profound and compelling as its cast breathes life into the world in ways that completely suspend disbelief, the technicality of the photography and lighting production is un-matched in its creative inventiveness and ingenuity compared to anyone else making television right now (or ever,) the costuming and make-up is literally iconic, and the magic of the score is pure synesthesia, driving home the sensations of the performances and the cinematography, elevating the entire essence of the Euphoria entity. And finally, the edit infuses all the above into the immaculate final product that wastes not one single frame, producing a very lean, and dense weave of pure cinema that transcends television. It’s official, after Season 2, Euphoria is an actual masterpiece. GOATED**