Straight out of the gate, Euphoria is exactly what one expects from a high-end network’s glossy drama about rich and horny teens glamorously self-destructing. In typical pilot fashion, the series spends most of this first episode favoring character introductions over story—and here for good reason, because there are a good dozen characters in this thing. Rue (Zendaya), our narrator and protagonist, is fresh out of rehab and monologues about the traumas in her life (OCD, ADD, dead dad—all the hits) that make her seek out that euphoria we’ve been hearing so much about. Rue is beautiful but her armchair psychoanalysis gets tiresome real quick!
On her way home from rehab, she makes explicit that it didn’t take, stopping off to chat with and then swindle her drug dealer, Fezco (Angus Cloud). The guy starts offering profundities and pearls of wisdom and it quickly becomes clear that, despite his questionable line of work, this crusty fellow has a heart of gold. He also has an apprentice of sorts, a tiny tot who is probably not old enough to tell time on an analog clock but sounds like he’s straight out of a Scorsese film. It seems like it’s meant to be shocking that this moppet is slinging, but honestly, anyone who’s seen anything from Go Ask Alice to Kids has already had a harder hit of this shit.
Next we have Jules (Hunter Schafer). She’s new in town but wastes no time hooking up with repressed dads who post their torsos on Tinder. Jules has the pink hair and cute wardrobe of an anime character, and she seems to be the most likable person on the show. (For the record, Jules is also transgender; I didn’t pick up on this while watching—maybe I’m an idiot—but I gather it is going to be part of her storyline.) In her first scene, she lets a grey-haired, mustached gent stick his filthy thumb in her mouth, then flip her over for a lightning-fast (and presumably not very satisfying) round of anal sex, and it’s as hard to watch as that sounds. During this hookup scene we are treated to some FULL FRONTAL from Grey Mustache! He then steps into the bathroom, giving Jules a peek at something even more disturbing than his dick: that his phone wallpaper is a Sears Portrait Studio family photo with his wife and little kids. And what would they think if they knew where he was shoving his various filthies?
Okay, there’s also Kat (Barbie Ferreria), who’s not as super skinny as the other girls and wears Chunk’s Hawaiian shirt from The Goonies, so yes, she is The Virgin. Kat is getting ready for the party with her two friends; Maddy, the uber-hot one, just broke up with alpha-male Nate, and the girls are plotting their revenge. The other, modestly less hot friend doesn’t have a name, but when Kat’s virginity is discussed, nameless friend delivers the only funny line in the whole episode: “This isn’t the ‘80s—go catch a dick!”
Cut to Nate (Jacob Elori), who hates two things in equal measure: women, and wearing a shirt. He’s a walking #MeToo offense, busily harassing and degrading every girl within shouting distance. Regardless of his pigskin-throwing abilities and his ripped abs, he’s so comprehensively terrible it’s hard to believe he has any friends, yet he has this guy McKay. Nate is actively trying to destroy the budding relationship between McKay and kindhearted nymphomaniac Cassie by revealing a bunch of Cassie’s sex videos. McKay and Cassie have sex anyway, in a super gross scene where she shows her boobs right before he fingers her and then chokes her. She’s not into the choking, but takes a rain check. Then they snuggle up and drift off into the peaceful slumber that only comes after nonconsensual S&M. Then Rue pipes in with the reminder that ALL YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE SEX ON FILM, OKAY?! So don’t JUDGE THEM, OKAY?! Just watch them like the pervert you’ve just become.
God, there are so many characters on this show, and the episode reaches its peak when they all finally converge at Nate’s party. Rue gets high and monologues about it; Kat fools around in some way or another with a dude from another school who resembles Telly from Kids (an homage?); and Maddy gets her revenge on Nate by making out with some other turd. Nate loses his shit and starts screaming at Jules, who flips the script by pulling a knife, slashing her wrists, and smearing the blood all over him. Sure, he deserved it, but is that really something teens do now? The final, climactic shock comes when Jules storms out of the house and the camera pans over the walls to reveal . . . THE SAME FAMILY PORTRAIT THAT WAS ON GRAY MUSTACHE’S PHONE!!! It’s definitely another “holy SHIT” moment, but it’s unclear if it’s supposed to be:
- “Holy SHIT, no wonder Nate’s such an asshole—his dad is a mustache-sporting, minor-defiling creep who has, undoubtedly, completely fucked up as a parent.”
- “Holy SHIT, it’s going to be awkward as hell when Nate realizes that his dad is getting on dating apps to bone high schoolers!”
- Just “Holy SHIT, these characters are all intertwined and heaven knows where the rest of Season 1 is going to take them!”
It also raises the question of why the dude has a ten-year-old (at MINIMUM) picture as the wallpaper on his phone (except that a current photo of his kid would obviously spoil the reveal, so whatever).
End of episode: Rue and Jules make friends and have a sleepover. We are left wondering what kind of crazy-ass shenanigans everyone is going to get into over the course of the next week. Who will McKay choke? Who will Nate’s dad fuck? Is Kat doomed to a life of unstylish outfits just because she is a little heavier than the rest of the girls? Spoiler alert: HBO has already revealed that she’s going to get into aggressive makeup and corsets over t-shirts now. One less question for next week.