cover story Generation Z(endaya) Freshman season of ‘Euphoria’ wraps up on HBO By Breanna Henry TV Media R ue Bennett is a drug addict. Despite having been recently released from a rehab center, she is not recovering, and does not intend to remain clean. She routinely meets strangers online for “hook-ups,” browses sketchy websites, and lies about her age. Rue is only 17-years-old, and luckily for her parents, she is a fictional character from the premium cable show “Eupho- ria,” played by Disney Channel graduate Zendaya (“Spider- Man: Far From Home,” 2019). If you haven’t been keeping up with “Euphoria” so far, you can stream previous episodes on HBO Go, and the Season 1 finale (titled “And Salt the Earth Behind You”) airs Sunday, Aug. 4, on HBO. The fantastic cast of fresh young actors “Euphoria” re- volves around includes Jacob Elordi (“The Kissing Booth,” 2018) as angry, confused jock Nate; Algee Smith (“The Hate U Give,” 2018) as struggling college athlete Chris; Barbie Ferreira (“Divorce”) as insecure, sexually curious Kat; Sydney Sweeney (“Sharp Objects”) as Cassie, who can’t seem to escape her past; and the show’s breakout star, trans runway model Hunter Schafer in her first role as Jules, a transgender teen girl looking to find the place she belongs. Cap all that talent off with an incredible performance by the show’s lead, Zendaya, and there is no reason to ques- tion why “Euphoria” is becom- ing one of the most popular shows on HBO. “Euphoria” follows a group of Generation Z (the group that came right after Millennials) stu- dents as they navigate their way through their late teen years into adulthood, and deal with the problems unique to their generation. Racy videos posted online, fentanyl abuse and social media drama weren’t issues you had to deal with in high school before Generation Z came along, 2 | Screentime but the classic problems like bul- lies, parents, secrets and crushes are still very much part of these teens’ lives. In many ways, “Euphoria” represents a bridge of under- standing between modern parents and children; while the show may take drama to the extreme in some cases, many aspects of the show’s storyline do occur in the life of today’s av- erage teen. A review of the show on Vox interpreted “Euphoria” perfectly, saying, “The [series] has gotten a lot of attention for depicting ‘how the teens live today,’ but its greatest strength isn’t what’s timely about it, but what’s eternal about it.”The way the show mixes these themes together is seamless and abso- lutely stunning. HBO is well known for its boundary-pushing, extravagant and original television series; there are things one expects when it comes to an HBO origi- nal — more mature content, more production value, higher quality — and “Euphoria” has hit every one of these marks with its first season. The cinema- tography, colors and design are out-of-this-world on their own, but couple them with stunning camera direction and unique shots, and “Euphoria” could stand tall even without amazing storylines and great acting — which it has, of course. Episodes are interwoven with flashbacks to the characters’ childhoods, and we’re shown how those moments relate to current issues and events in their lives. The way the show uses im- ages to convey its story is truly something worth seeing, even if the plot doesn’t excite you. You can’t talk about “Eu- phoria” without talking about mental health. Zendaya’s char- acter, Rue has dealt with anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder since early childhood, and was first given Valium at the age of 11; this, along with the death of her father, drives the teen to be- gin taking drugs as she searches July 31, 2019 | East Oregonian and Hermiston Herald Hunter Schafer in a scene from “Euphoria” for the two seconds of “eupho- see the things I feel and endure ria” in which she isn’t plagued mirrored.” She also called by her mental state. “Euphoria” “TV’s most realistic The moments of the show portrayal of anxiety.” The por- that truly stand out are Ze- trayal of the dark side of mental ndaya’s voice-over monologues, health in the show is very real, which are poignant, thought- and neither sugar-coats or vili- provoking and relatable for fies the issue. viewers who have experienced Critics of the series say it similar situations. Jill Gutowitz brings back memories of “Reefer of Nylon Magazine wrote, “I Madness” (1936), or assert that was actually happy — and by it’s trying too hard, but there ‘happy,’ I mean devastated — to are many more moments in “Euphoria” I consider must-see scenes than cringe-worthy shock bait. The series has been gaining more and more viewers each episode, and HBO even ordered a second season of the show in July. (Take that, haters.) The show boasts a talented, if some- what odd, group of producers that include Canadian rapper Drake and his manager, Future the Prince, as well as Peabody Award-winning writer Gary Lennon, and 71-year-old Tmira Yardeni, a prolific producer from Tel Aviv, Israel. If you came here looking for spoilers on the finale, you’re out of luck. HBO is keeping Rue, Jules, Kat and Fezco’s antics on lock-down. Does “Euphoria” sound like the kind of show you could get into? Get caught up on HBO Go, and absolutely do not miss the season finale airing Sunday, Aug. 4, on HBO.