Euphoria Review: Is It Worth The Hype?


Rebekah Flores, Publicist

*TW: The show contains multiple themes surrounding drug and/or substance abuse as well as graphic violence and sexual content. Would also not recommend it to those with emetophobia (fear of vomit). View at your own risk.*

Content Warning: Obviously, there will be spoilers for Euphoria, so if you’re not fully caught up yet, click away and catch up. Once you’ve done that (or if you don’t care for spoilers), read on. You’ve been warned.

Euphoria is a TV show on HBO Max based on an Israeli miniseries of the same name. The show revolves around a group of high school students and their experiences with themes such as identity, love, friendships, and family as well as darker topics such as drug usage, trauma, and sexual encounters. The show has received mostly positive reviews, with several critics praising the show for its plot, performances, and approach to its subject matter, but also received criticism for its excessive amounts of sexual content and/or nudity, given the characters’ ages. Despite the criticism, however, the show has definitely made its impact on viewers, for better or for worse.

Storyline – 10/10

The storyline was definitely not what I expected upon watching the show but was definitely a pleasant surprise all the same. Was the storyline perfect? No, not at all. But that’s what made the show work: the storyline is all over the place, which reflects the show in itself.

The show consists of two seasons, two special episodes, and a third season on the way.

Season One:

The first season of the show chose to hone in on the backgrounds of different characters and the lives they have now. More often than not, their troubles can usually be traced back to issues they had before.

Topics the first season chose to focus on include:

  • Rue and Jules’ complex relationship
  • The toxicity of Nate and Maddy’s relationship
  • Nate’s issues with anger and sexuality
  • Cassie and McKay’s strained but attentive relationship
  • Kat being self-conscious in her body image and her growth in spite of it

Though the storyline of the first season worked for the show, that didn’t make it any less of a shock.

Scenes that stood out to me especially would include:

  • The scene in episode 6 where McKay gets violently hazed by a fraternity at his college
  • Nate choking Maddy in episode 4
  • Episode 2 when Nate was beating up the guy Maddy hooked up with in the pool at McKay’s party because Maddy falsely told him she blacked out
  • Jules hooking up with an older guy in the first episode that turned out to be Cal
  • Rue relapsing at the end of the show
  • Rue choking on her vomit in a flashback to her overdose

Overall, season 1 was extremely messed up and crazy, but it worked for the show, and let’s face it, this is just the beginning.


In between Seasons One and Two, there were two one-hour-long specials released

Trouble Don’t Last Always:

“Trouble Don’t Last Always” chose to focus on an intoxicated Rue reflecting with Ali (her sponsor in Narcotics Anonymous) regarding her addiction. Overall, it’s not an essential thing to watch if you’re looking to catch up for Season 2, but if you’re looking for a deeper characterization of Rue, I highly suggest you watch it

F**k Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob:

“F**k Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob” (aka the only episode with a credited writer besides the creator of the show) chose to focus on Jules in her first therapy session, where she reveals quite a bit about her perspective of her relationship with Rue, such as how she feels like Rue’s the only one who loves her for her while also feeling resentment towards her because Rue makes her feel like she has to constantly be available to her to preserve her sobriety. Again, not a lot going on here, but if you want a better understanding of Jules, I highly recommend it.

Season Two:

Just when I thought that the show couldn’t be any more intense, Season Two was just as impactful as its predecessor, if not more. While Season Two chose to stray away from the whole background exploring portion (since most of the characters had already been explored) and focused more on the now of the show, things still got intense.

Topics the second season chose to focus on include:

  • Cassie and Nate’s superficial secret relationship they hid from Maddy
  • Rue, Jules, and Elliot’s confusing dynamic in relationships/friendships
  • Kat’s struggle with her image and falling out of love with Ethan
  • Maddy eventually discovering Cassie and Nate’s secret and her reflection on her relationship with both
  • Fez and Ashtray and their legal issues

Oddly enough, in spite of his ex-girlfriend and his best friend hooking up, McKay is nowhere to be seen for most of the season, not to mention that characters like Kat had their screen time cut immensely (though it’s rumored that the latter was due to a disagreement between the actress and the director). In spite of this, however, I was still surprised by the season. I thought Season 1 would’ve been peak intensity and shock value, but nope!

Scenes that stood out to me especially would include:

  • Rue revealing to Maddy in episode 5 about Cassie and Nate’s relationship
  • The fight between Maddy and Cassie at the end of the season
  • Nate holding both himself and Maddy at gunpoint in order to retrieve a disk from her
  • Cassie storming the stage in the middle of Lexi’s play
  • When everyone in the audience realized that Lexi’s play was about the students at Eastland High
  • Ashtray murdering both Mouse and Custer in different episodes.
  • When the police and Ashtray engaged in a shootout that lead to his death and Fez’s arrest

Overall, Season 2 was even more messed up than the first season, which makes me wonder if Season 3 will play out in the same way and be more messed up than this one.

Characters – 9/10

Every TV show needs an interesting cast of characters to help move the story along, and Euphoria is no exception, as the show is filled with a variety of well-written characters with different values and different backgrounds (some great, some not-so-much).

Rue Bennett:

A high school junior fresh out of rehab after an overdose incident that took place before the events of the show. Rue also serves as the not-so-reliable omniscient narrator of the series (she even says so herself in the first episode). She lives with her mom and her younger sister Gia, her father having passed away from cancer prior to the series. Despite the time she spent in rehab, however, her addiction to drugs still lingers, seen when she immediately goes to Fezco (Fez) and Ashtray for drugs. Nevertheless, Rue does spend most of the first season trying to get clean for the sake of Jules, her new best friend whom she slowly develops feelings for. Rue makes for an interesting main character, as I kind of like the way that the show portrays through her the struggle of staying clean and how that struggle is not a linear path, seeing that she does end up relapsing at the end of the first season before spending the second season on another path of addiction (though Rue says she was able to remain clean for the rest of the school year at the end of Season 2). Although Rue’s not the most reliable character of the series (as well as the fact that her addiction does cause her to become irritated and irrational at times), you can tell that she’s trying her best throughout the series, regardless of whether or not it’s enough.

Jules Vaughn:

A transgender girl who moves into the small town of East Highland at the start of the series and becomes Rue’s new best friend/love interest after the way she (Jules) stood up to Nate at McKay’s party. Her friendship/complicated relationship with Rue is one of the main plotlines in Season 1, which Season 2 hones in on while also slowly starting to (sort of) break them away, choosing to focus more on Jules’ friendships with other characters (Elliot especially). Part of her plotline in Season 1 features her falling for a guy online (much to Rue’s dismay) that turned out to be Nate catfishing her (though it’s arguable that he did have genuine feelings for her nonetheless). This sort of causes a rift between Rue and Jules in the first season that only grows after Jules starts to form feelings for Rue while also having feelings for a girl she met named Anna. Although the rift is repaired in Season 2, it arrives again after Elliot tells her that he’d been enabling Rue’s drug addiction by taking them with her, which Rue wasn’t happy about, and cuts ties with Jules and Elliot (though she makes up with both of them at the end of the season). In “F**k Everyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob”, Jules reveals to her therapist that while she believes Rue’s the only one who loves her for who she is, she’s tired of having to always feel emotionally available to her to preserve her sobriety.

Lexi Howard:

Rue’s childhood best friend. She lives with her mom and her older sister Cassie (more on the latter later), with her father being estranged from the family. She’s more of a supporting character throughout the first season (even though she was listed as one of the main characters in both seasons) but her character grows in Season 2. She writes a play about her experiences in high school that she eventually puts together by the end of the season. She also begins a relationship with Fez throughout the season after finding that they shared quite a few similar interests. I find it interesting that in a way, Lexi’s character sort of parallels with Jules’ character, as they both have a connection to Rue as well as how while we see less of Lexi interacting with Rue in Season 1 and more of them interacting in Season 2, we see more of Jules interacting with Rue in Season 1 but less of them interacting in Season 2. The only thing about Lexi that confuses me is her motive behind the stories she told in her play, as they weren’t probably for her to tell, but perhaps Season 3 will answer that question.

Cassie Howard:

Lexi’s people-pleasing older sister with a sexual past, somewhat stemmed by her father, who she was extremely close to, leaving the family right before her first year of high school, giving her attachment issues and causing her to fall in love with every guy she dates. Her character development flourishes throughout the show, especially in Season 2, and although it doesn’t paint her in the best light, it’s done quite beautifully. Season 1 mostly featured her relationship with McKay, which, while attentive, was also quite strained, mostly due to McKay being preoccupied with college matters and being uncomfortable with Cassie’s sexual past. After Cassie’s abortion in the finale, it’s implied that the two broke up even though it’s never explicitly shown. Season 2 chose to hone in on Cassie feeling lonely and overwhelmed after the events of Season 1 and allow her to find a superficial solace in a secret relationship with Nate after hooking up at a New Year’s Eve party, to Maddy’s eventual dismay. I love what the second season did with Cassie because, although it painted her in a bad light, it also explored her as a person and told a story with her emotions following her breakup with McKay and her abortion, such as the guilt she feels throughout her relationship with Nate knowing that Maddy would freak out if she knew her best friend was having sex with her ex-boyfriend while choosing to continue seeing Nate because she fears the overwhelming sensation of being alone. Overall, while Cassie’s actions throughout the show are unjustifiable, to say the least, the complexity of her character is written beautifully despite her flaws.

Maddy Perez:

Cassie’s best friend (later ex-best friend) and Nate’s on-and-off girlfriend (later ex-girlfriend). Maddy is seen as a confident and combative character who’s not afraid to speak her mind and genuinely cares about her friends, however, she can’t seem to let go of Nate entirely, even if she knows that he brings out the worst in her, something that I infer to stem from her parents’ loveless marriage and her desire to avoid being trapped in one. However, it appears that in her goal to steer clear of what her parents have, she’s trapped herself in a cycle of emotional trauma and abuse from her relationship with Nate, and although they broke up for good by the end of Season 1, it’s pretty clear that Maddy still loves him, even if she doesn’t want to, henceforth why it must’ve hurt more for her when she found out that Cassie, her own best friend, had secretly been hooking up with Nate for a month, resulting in the disintegration of their friendship. Their relationship deteriorating, however, didn’t stop Maddy from warning Cassie of what she’d just gotten herself into at the end of the season, foreshadowing that Nate won’t let go of Cassie so easily and that he’ll pull Cassie into this cycle of emotional abuse, just as Nate had done to Maddy. Personally, I saw this as Maddy continuing to watch over Cassie and make sure she’s okay in spite of what Cassie did, but that’s just my interpretation.

Kat Hernandez:

Maddy’s childhood best friend; is also good friends with Cassie (until mid-season 2) and Jules. Kat is portrayed as a body-conscious teen looking to change the way people see her in high school. She uses the Internet as a way to escape the real world, even going as far as to become a dominatrix online after a video of her hooking up with someone from another school at McKay’s party goes viral. Kat’s issues regarding her being self-conscious about herself as well as her hesitancy to get into a relationship stem from when her sixth-grade boyfriend dumped her after she gained weight on a family vacation. From there, she developed a fear of rejection, henceforth why she initially rejected Ethan for most of the first season before eventually opening up to him. In Season 2, however, after having quit being a dominatrix, Kat starts to struggle with her identity and started feeling miserable in her relationship with Ethan as she thinks she can’t love him the way he loves her (though the way she tried to end the relationship was pretty dumb). I kind of like the direction the show takes with Kat in Season 1, though I don’t know how to feel about her in Season 2, as she barely had that much screentime. 

Nate Jacobs:

Maddy’s on-and-off boyfriend (later ex-boyfriend) and Cassie’s boyfriend (also later ex-boyfriend). Nate’s portrayed as a popular kid and a star on the football team, however, he’s also known to show violent behaviors (psychopathic, if you must), and struggles with his sexuality due to stumbling across his father’s porn collection as a child, both of which he masks with his physical traits and anger. When he and Maddy were still in a relationship, they’d have a habit of breaking up, getting back together, and using other people to make each other jealous, even though they knew what they were doing was toxic, which lead to their eventual breakup at the end of the first season. He also catfished Jules with the online alias of Tyler, the name of a young man Maddy had used to make him jealous, as he found out that Jules had hooked up with his father and wanted blackmail against her. It is implied, however, that he does have some genuine feelings for Jules, eventually returning the blackmail he had against her before apologizing and telling her that he meant everything he said to her when catfishing. He then forms a new relationship with Cassie at the start of Season 2, lasting for about a month before Maddy finds out, before breaking up with Cassie sometime during Lexi’s play (though it’s foreshadowed that Nate would come back someday).

Cal Jacobs:

Nate’s father with a double life. Despite being married to his high school sweetheart, Marsha, and having three kids together, Cal is actually secretly gay but was too afraid to come out, most likely due to unsupportive parents. He had feelings for his best friend Derek, who reciprocated them, but after finding out that Marsha was pregnant, he was forced to hide who he was for a long time. This didn’t stop him, however, from hooking up with multiple people and secretly recording said hookups, one of those hookups, in particular, being Jules. By the end of Season 2, however, Nate was able to get his father arrested for the recordings, having known about them for years.

Fezco (Fez):

A drug dealer and Rue’s main supplier for some time before eventually choosing to stop selling her drugs as he cares about her and thinks of her as a sister. Season 2 revealed that he was brought up in the drug dealing industry through his grandmother, who raised him after taking him from his father, who was physically abusive to him. He starts to form a relationship with Lexi after becoming friends during a New Year’s Eve party (which I thought was a little odd at first because I thought Fez was in his early/mid-20s and was trying to date a 17-year-old before eventually looking it up and finding out he’s only 19). He ends up getting arrested at the end of the season after the police storm through his and Ashtray’s shared home.


Fez’s business partner/adopted brother. Ashtray got his name after trying to eat discarded cigarettes from an ashtray that Fez’s grandmother used. He’s mostly seen helping Fez with his business in drug-dealing, though in Season 2 he also kills Mouse, their supplier, in self-defense as well as Custer, Mouse’s drug-dealing partner. The latter ends up costing Ashtray his life, as he was shot in the head after engaging in a shootout against the police who stormed their shared home, despite Fez’s pleas not to. All this, and keep in mind that this boy was 14 when he was killed.

Chris McKay (McKay):

Nate’s best friend and Cassie’s boyfriend in Season 1 (eventually ex-boyfriend). Despite being listed as one of the main characters of both seasons, he only appears twice in Season 2 (don’t ask why because even the actor was confused about it) and in Season 1 it was rare to see him without Cassie by his side (excluding the beginning of the first episode when he was hanging out with his brothers and Nate). His character honestly seemed to have just been written for Cassie to be able to develop as a character, which I find a little unfair, but we do get to see some backstory to him (though not a whole lot). Then again, at least his relationship with Cassie was one of the healthier relationships of the show (he was healthier for Cassie than Nate was, anyway).


Elliot made his debut in the second season as a guy Rue clicked with at a New Year’s Eve party. The two found that they had quite a bit in common, including substance abuse, which led to Elliot and Rue taking drugs together throughout the Christmas break. Jules had no idea about their ongoing endeavors until later on when Elliot told Jules of their drug usage, to Rue’s chagrin. Personally, I feel like Rue and Elliot’s meeting was a mistake in a way because he basically was enabling (if not condoning) her addiction, but at the same time, if Rue staying clean for the rest of the school year is true, then maybe she wouldn’t have been able to without meeting/making peace with Elliot.

Ethan Daley:

Kat’s boyfriend (later ex-boyfriend) started out as a recurring character in Season 1 before becoming one of the main characters in Season 2. Similar to McKay, Ethan seemed to have been written mainly for Kat’s character, but unlike McKay, the writer of the show (yes, there’s only one writer) chose to develop Ethan as a character even after he and Kat broke up, as we see him playing several different roles in Lexi’s play. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see more of Ethan in Season 3, as I liked his character enough.

Music/Soundtrack – 9/10

The whole show was full of surprises, and the music was no exception. The assortment of music in the soundtrack surprised me with its variety, but it also surprised me in how well it fit the show as a whole. From playing “Fly Me To The Moon” by Bobby Womack while showing Rue’s summer memories (good and bad) in episode 2 of season 1 to playing “Dead of Night” by Orville Peck in the premiere of season 2 when Nate and Cassie meet up for the first time that season. Even more surprisingly, they managed to insert a song called “Euphoria” (sung by BTS’s Jungkook) into the show at the end of the first season when Kat and Ethan finally kiss at a high school dance.

There wasn’t too much to point out about the music overall, but the music was spectacular and full of surprises nonetheless.

You can find a link to the soundtrack here.

So in question…is Euphoria worth the hype?

In short, yes. The show is quite excellent in theory and (for the most part) execution. Although there are a few issues in the storyline, the show is definitely worth the hype and is quite entertaining. It’s definitely not for everyone though, but honestly, that’s okay.

Overall – 9.3/10