New TV show ‘Euphoria’ emphasizes the importance of mental health

September 9, 2019 — by Isaac Le

I stared intensely at my computer screen, extremely tired and stressed from the previous night’s homework, watching as Rue, played by Zendaya, the main character from the TV show “Euphoria,” begged for drugs from her main drug dealer, Fezco. Fezco demands Rue to leave, but she refuses, causing Fezco to force Rue into taking a drop of the addictive and highly dangerous drug Fentanyl. 

I was shocked by this intense moment; a scene which further increased the suspense that continued through the rest of the episode. 

Earlier this year, executive producers Drake and Tmira Yardeni premiered the American drama series “Euphoria” on HBO. “Euphoria” exemplifies the true reality for many teenagers today, similar to popular TV show “13 Reasons Why.” The show primarly focuses on relevant political and social issues like LGBTQ+ and transgender rights.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of the word euphoria is “a feeling of extreme happiness or confidence.” The title of the show, “Euphoria,” signifies each character’s search for this feeling throughout the show. Rue undergoes a journey to find her own euphoria through an exploration of different narcotics. She is supported by her best friend, Jules Vaughn, who struggles from a variety of mental health issues. 

“Euphoria” revolves around the the life of Rue, a high schooler, and her friendship with Jules (played by actor Hunter Schafer), a transgender girl who is unclear about her sexuality. Together, Rue and Jules tackle the negative stigmas associated with transgenderism and the LGBTQ community.

After binge-watching all eight “Euphoria” episodes in a little under a week, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the complex plot. 

This intense plot, revolving around controversial topics, leads to compelling, visually graphic scenes that portray some of the experiences of high school students, especially regarding mental health. 

After I finished, I was surprised by how well Zendaya plays the leading role of Rue. In the past, Zendaya performed on Disney shows targeting children as the main audience, such as  “KC Undercover” and “Shake it Up.” Her lack of experience in mature shows raised doubts on whether she could transition from children’s shows.

In an interview with The New York Times she said, “There’s a lot of people who probably think I can’t do it because they don’t truly understand my personality. And I get it: I’m a Disney kid. There’s a lot to prove.”        

And she has. Her performance as Rue, dealing with many of dark struggles that teenagers deal with, demonstrated Zendaya’s maturity as an actor and her skills as an actress.  

Since it provides a deep insight into the stigmas transgender teens face on a daily basis as well as the stresses faced by all high school students, “Euphoria” is a must-watch show on HBO.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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