By Madalyn McKnight
Since the season 1 finale of the hit HBO show Euphoria, I have played the song performed by Zendaya and Labrinth titled, “All For Us”, at least 50 times. The song premiered as the last scene of the season unfolded a heartbreaking setback for Zendaya’s character Rue. It is an ode to how she sees her life and her family and her personal motivations. Aside from outstanding directing, production, and just overall dope aesthetic, this show was relatable, dark, and eye-opening. Having dangerous habits to process trauma has no minimum age, no socioeconomic status, no race. Pain crosses every line, every time, in different ways.
In the story that unfolded over the season, we learn that Rue is a drug-addicted teenager, desperate to feel anything after the tragic passing of her father and that the show starts fresh off the heels of a near-fatal overdose and rehabilitation stint. Although I do not identify with those specific experiences, her depression, her obsession over every ray of light in her life, and her detachment are all things I struggled to control when I was a teenager and even now. Her character is beautifully flawed and tragically hopeful. Zendaya’s performance laid the way that character was written bare, with a very unadulterated and honest interpretation.
The other characters are friends and associates from her high school and all have different insecurities. Some are abuse survivors, and all are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (so to speak) while living in the age of social media and eerie accessibility along with the need to be materialistically fabulous. The many issues these characters have separately and combined mirror a lot of the issues teenagers all over the world are dealing with today. Creating an ideal version of themselves or a persona that is perfect all while being broken and seemingly defective inside, a very real struggle.
High school magnifies everything and is truly a very underrated time in a person’s life. Body changes, relationships, future plans, and sexuality exists in creator Sam Levinson’s world just as it does ours. There is innocence, maturity, adult situations and brutal realism, and the writers do not stray from uncomfortable spaces. This show touches on topics and pushes the envelope, but does it poetically. The show’s creator struggled with a lot of the same things the characters struggle with, so it is deeply personal and I felt it in every scene that played before me. Euphoria is what 13 Reasons Why wants to be, and less overt on life lessons than Degrassi.
It is raw and beautiful. When life is bleak, we all seek something that takes the pain away and gives us that euphoric feeling. Follow’s Rue narration of the characters in this show and immerse yourself.
And be on the lookout during the next awards season. Zendaya absolutely breathtaking in this role. And the rest of the cast has phenomenal performances.
Check it out on all platforms that steam HBO content.
Madalyn McKnight is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. A rare blackbird who has the range and a young black professional with impactful words! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @singsongblackbird and twitter @singsongblckbrd