‘Euphoria’ special episodes offer viewers deeper look at characters

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The special episodes serve a great purpose; to give a deeper understanding of Rue and Jules and address socially taboo topics for context outside of the TV show. 

Topics like self-identity, addiction and mental health have led HBO’s “Euphoria” to be one of the most-watched shows for young adults. 

The show is narrated by Rue (Zendaya) who is struggling with addiction and her feelings for Jules (Hunter Schafer). Jules is a trans girl who also experiences issues with mental health and identity. The show follows the two, along with other characters who go to their high school. 

Once the pandemic hit, “Euphoria” fans were devastated by the postponement of shooting season two. However, in order to keep fans engaged, the creators of the show released two special episodes: one about Rue and one about Jules. 

Each episode functions as a way to gain a deeper understanding of the character. Rue’s episode is a one hour conversation between Rue and her sponsor, Ali. The episode about Jules is a conversation between herself and her therapist. While the setup of each episode seemed not as chaotic as normal Euphoria episodes, they provided an intimate amount of detail on each character, giving a greater context to their actions. 

Before the release of “Part One: Rue,” Euphoria left off with Jules running away and Rue relapsing. These episodes take place the following weeks. 

In “Part One: Rue,” it is Christmas Eve and Rue meets with Ali at a diner to discuss where she is mentally at. Throughout the conversation, Ali tries to pinpoint what Rue truly wants with her life, while also revealing details about himself to show that he’s not perfect. 

This discussion truly helped me understand Rue may not be the most reliable narrator, revealing that things may be altered in her perspective when she talks about Jules. Over time, Ali tries to make Rue understand she cannot put her sobriety on someone else and must find it inside herself to stay sober.

Topics within this conversation had messages that I think not only round out Rue as a character but can be applied outside of the show itself. Ali talks of how capitalism co-ops movements like Black Lives Matter to make us feel “special” in order to distract us from the costs. 

With January came “Part Two: Jules” which ended up shattering any shade the audience had toward Jules. 

After season one, twitter fans of “Euphoria” began to build a little disdain for Jules. Viewers felt Jules kept putting Rue’s love on the back burner. Jules’ conversation with her therapist showed exactly why she feels hesitant to go for a romantic relationship with Rue. Jules often feels the weight of Rue’s sobriety on her shoulders, which terrifies her. 

Jules also discusses altering parts of her transition in order to redefine what being a woman means to her. She wants to stop conforming to the ideas of femininity that cis men desire.

Part one and two serve a great purpose; to give a deeper understanding of Rue and Jules and address socially taboo topics for context outside of the TV show. 

Along with functioning really well with characters and social issues, the tone set for each show was particular to each character, which makes you truly feel like you’re seeing their perspective. The music in the soft scenes also stuck out as profound, giving the audience instrumentals that make us feel closer to the characters. 

Overall, I am glad “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson jumped through hoops to bridge the pandemic gap in production. In adapting to chaos, Levinson was able to pull off a fantastic dose of season two while making sure each moment in the specials mattered. Each pause, each moment of hesitation and each word served a purpose in the greater context of the show. 

I rate the “Euphoria” special episodes a 10/10, and if you have watched “Euphoria,” it is available on HBOmax. 

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Kieron Kessler
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