Monday, July 12, 2021


I've been watching "Euphoria" recently. I can't say I've been binging it; this isn't a show I can binge, it's a show that I can barely watch one episode a week of. It's a good show, it's a powerful and disturbing show about teenage drug addicts. Well, teenagers in general, but... (Sigh) I feel like treading lightly here....

I recognize that no movie or television series is ever going to equate or recreate a perfect youth experience the way I experienced it, and that even if one did come close, high school is incredibly different for everybody, and what would be an accurate protrayal of high school for me, could possibly seem completely unrealistic to others, even to those who I went to high school with. Even to those friends of mine in high school who I went to high school with, including the ones I'm still friends with. If I have to narrow it down to media that I feel the most reminiscent to me as realistic, eh, "PEN15" probably is more accurate to me. Also, "My So-Called Life".... You can probably throw in Todd Solondz's "Welcome to the Dollhouse" in that mix, even though that's middle school, and I guess "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" has some emotional cues and tonal resonance that rings true for me. None of these pieces of media get it entirely (finger quotes) "right" of course, but whether or not it's "Right", is not really the issue anyway. 

So, is "Euphoria" accurate? Man, I hope it isn't, but I imagine that it absolutely is for some out there. It's one of those shows that I fear is more accurate to the true experience of some people I knew growing up, including some incredibly close friends of mine, who I suspect hid things from me that were probably far worst then I realized, or I just forced myself to blissfully, just not be aware of, because I didn't want to know. In hindsight, I don't know which was worst. It's not like I feel like if I absolutely knew characters like the ones in "Euphoria" and knew exactly what they were going through and how troubled they actually are that I would even be able to handle it. I feel like I would've tried though. I know I would've in some cases in fact. 

I had one friend who I will not name who was in a bad relationship in high school that was not healthy in the slightest for her. I never liked the guy she was with, (Although to be frank I don't think I ever liked anybody she was with, but that's beside the point) but only afterwards did she reveal just how horrible the guy actually was to her. I wish I had known at the time; I feel like I would've tried more forcefully to get her out of that situation; I might even have brought authorities or others in to help her out, but then again, I don't know if she would've listened, because she was clearly hiding and keeping a lot from me as well. Perhaps she had to go through it. 

In fact a lot of friends of mine kept almost all of their vices away from me. Sometimes I didn't want to know, other times I think they figured, arguably correctly, that I wouldn't see them the same way afterwards. I'm not even necessarily talking about drugs, although I am mostly..., so yeah, drug addictions of any kind; I know people obviously who partake in occasional drugs, some of which used to be illegal but now aren't, some of which still currently are..., but I don't get them, at all, but it goes far beyond that for me. 

So, this same friend of mine who had the bad relationship, she would constantly ask me to go out with her and some of her friends, almost of whom I thought were pretty questionable, at least at first I thought that, they probably weren't but even if I thought some of them seemed okay in certain situations, I rarely went. In fact, I didn't attend, any dance, any party, much of anything in high school, which definitely seems different from the characters in "Euphoria" all of whom seem to go to every even somewhat social event in their immediate vicinity..., even the ones who, I relate to the most, when they are out and about, matriculating through these contrived get-togethers, my first thought is, "Why are they doing that?", 'cause frankly I never would've and the few times I actually did try to do something of that sort, it never felt right to me. 

I'm trying desperately to explain this in ways that others would understand, but...-, I know some of you are just not gonna get it. You'll think or say something "Why didn't you just go out?", like it's a thing I can just naturally do, but, it's not. I'm genuinely still amazed I was as social as I was, and a lot of the times, the circumstances had to play out perfectly not just in my life, but in my mind, in order for them to occur. I mean, I attended one or two or my aforementioned friend's soirees in her house, and even then it took like, a couple years of her convincing me to do that. YEARS! Seriously, years. And it wasn't even the parties in this show, it was the regular boring party that you'd find in an Alessia Cara song, only with less of everything going on.

There's another episode where there's a carnival in town,  and I'm like "Okay, so, why are you going, what's the big deal?" I legitimately do not get how anybody goes to anything, and that's not the pandemic talking, I literally cannot fathom it. I'm genuinely shocked by any kind of gathering that more then five people who aren't direct relatives show up at, whether it's a concert, a night out, or whatever. Like, why are you going?! And part of the answers, that I'm afraid of, is "'Cause that's where we get fucked up at?!" or even "To have fun, without even the fucked up parts...", and now I'm down a whole other rabbit hole of how I'm too straight-edged for any of this shit. 

I've joked about how my mother once forced me to go to Disneyland as punishment before..., here's the thing, that's 100% not a joke. It was the Senior Class Trip, apparently people were going, I didn't think it was a big deal so I didn't tell my mother about it, and she found out about it. I don't remember how; I think she looked it up on the school's website after I threw away my report cards and then suddenly, I'm forced to go. I didn't get wasting the $90 but whatever, I was now forced to go. To Disneyland. As punishment. (I mean, I'm not Umberto Eco or Michael Crichton or anything; I didn't naturally hate Disneyland. I'm not big on roller coasters I guess, but no, I didn't get it.)

I'm a severe introvert to this day. I don't know why, perhaps it's that my brother's autism made me feel the need to be home, perhaps my earliest experiences with other kids were just so horrific for me that I never was able to fully feel comfortable being apart of such a group, or I just am that misanthropic, perhaps it's something that was always ingrained or inherent in me, perhaps therapy would help..., perhaps drugs would help...,  I really don't know. I know it's cost me a lot and I know it's going to cost me more if I don't find a way out of this paralyzing personality trait..., but I also know that, I didn't end up making any kind of mistakes like becoming a drug addict, or being in an unhealthy relationship, or just being in bad situations with genuinely disturbing, violent, and criminal people around. (Shrugs) My justification I guess.

Perhaps this is all why I'm utterly fascinated by something like "Euphoria", it feels like I watch it the same way I watch...-, no not even watch- This show feels like how I listen to other people talk, the few times I try to talk or have a conversation with others outside of those closest to me, and I find myself wondering about their lives and listening to whatever they feel like talking about. 

Maybe, I'm just not capable, of actually experiencing, euphoria. Not the show, the feeling. That's what the show's title comes from, the positive emotional, usually artificial feeling of extreme joy and happiness that, in this case, supposedly an addict gets from their high. Sure I can probably try a few of these drugs and see for myself, but...- (Sigh) actually, you know how people say they "experimented" with drugs and such...? I-, I hate that term. What do they mean they've "experimented", like they followed the scientific method when they do a line off the bathroom sink? Fucking stupid term. I know, I can't fully understand or appreciate what a drug user or addict goes through if I myself haven't gone through that kind of addiction myself, or even if I haven't used personally, but it's not like, we don't know what drugs do to us already. The experimenting happened already, and the data been reported on and verified multiple times; you're not experimenting to see for yourself, you're just using. And I don't have an issue with that per se, but call it what it is.   

Okay, like one of the openings of this Halloween episode of "Euphoria" is that, "Dan was holding a party," and my thought was, "Okay, good for him." Apparently though, that meant, "So, we're all going to this party?" and I'd be like, "Why?". And they'd be like, "It's a Halloween party, let's go," and I'd be like, "What do you mean, go? Why would we go to a party?!" "Why would we go to any party?!"

Seriously, every time I watch this show and the characters go anywhere outside of school or home, I'm just confused. This does not compute in my brain. I'm in my thirties, and the very notion of going out to a party and to have fun, especially with the people you spend all the time with at school, like, I swear, to me, everybody who thinks this way, has a mental disorder. Okay, disorder's not the right word, but for me, it seems like something incredibly wrong is going on with your brain. Like, you never learned that if the stove's hot, you don't put your hand on it! That is literally how insane this sounds to me, and I cannot, for the life of me, get this idea out of my head. I'm aware of how abnormal it apparently is, like if I'm outside of myself looking in and judging me, I'd get it, I'd understand that this is my issue and it's more likely that my train-of-thought is far more backwards and toxically inept from the norm, but within my regular conscious mindspace, I can't shake it.


I don't know, I feel like I'm the only one who's not crazy, and that's not unusual for crazy people people to think that way, I guess. Still,  I'm waiting for the episode of "Euphoria" where they profile the person who was with them in school that everyone remembers but curiously never went anywhere with them or went to any of this shit, but I guess this show isn't about them, but then, I end up with the other solution, that this show was about everyone else I knew. 

I once became temporary friends with somebody who rode on the bus who rambled on about "Twilight", long before it because a movie franchise and whatnot 'cause I was just trying to understand why she was so fascinated by it, even when admitting that she didn't think they were particularly good books. She would talk about other fantasy series and I'd let her. I think she was trying to bore me to death to not ask her out in hindsight, which eh, maybe that was a thought at first, but I often get sidetracked by others' fascinations anyway, 'cause I'm often desperate to understand things from others perspectives at times. "Euphoria" feels like those bus conversations, only about people I feel like I grew up with and should've known all this about them at the time. That's why this is so hard to watch, nothing that they do actually surprises me, I'm just fascinated 'cause I just don't understand the mindset of how so many of these people would ever do this stuff, and yet, I was literally in some cases, surrounded by people who probably did all of this.

Some of them, probably did much worst. I mean, okay, maybe not worst; nobody I knew was a gay athletic kid of a legendary athlete, who's secretly a town pederast, that beat up a guy to take the fall for beating up his own longtime girlfriend, and certain other modern details about high school life..., (Seriously, I might be anti-social to begin with, but dick picks, sorry there's no scenario that's good) but you know, the tone and details all feel familiar enough that modern touches aside, I recognize the characters and their behaviors just enough to realize that I've probably missed or dismissed other things about them.

I don't know why I'm rambling about this; "Euphoria" isn't the first show to show teenagers doing drugs or having sex, or even doing things too outrageous for soap operas, but, it's the first one that's made me genuinely rethink and reflect upon myself and my own experiences like this. Maybe I just missed "Skins" when it was on, or maybe I'm just at that age where I can and am more willing to look back on my high school years, but I can't think of too many other shows that have made me wonder and reflect the way "Euphoria" has. I don't know if it has that effect on others or not, but it's certainly has with me. 

I don't know creator Sam Levinson's work too well either; the only thing of his I've seen is his debut feature film, "Another Happy Day", which I didn't remember much. Looking up my old review of it, which is not terribly well-written, so I'm not gonna link to it, but the movie basically is a profile of several characters, young and old, although mostly young, and how they're all fucked up in their own ways and that's part of how they were raised by neurotic divorced parents. I gave it a positive review and it profiles a pretty eclectic family if nothing else, but that said, no I didn't foresee something like "Euphoria" from him, but in hindsight, I can see the germs of his idea. Sam, is indeed, Barry Levinson's son, if the name sounds familiar. Barry hasn't made too many films or particular note in a while, although looking at his IMDB trivia page, it does mention that he's been working on a film about his friends in high school in the 1950s since 1991. Maybe this is just Sam Levinson's version of that? It makes some sense that I would find it so powerful, Sam and I are the same age, so while it's a modern high school setting, he's probably looking for viewers my age to have this kind of self-reflection. 

I don't know, I don't feel too much like speculation on motives or storytelling techniques or whatever other influences the series has, I know it influences me in ways others haven't. I don't even entirely know if this is a good show or not; I've only seen the one season, maybe like most teenage dramas it's a one-to-two year wonder, although I doubt it's gonna go down as this generation's "James at 15" or anything, it's too good for that. 

Yeah, maybe-, that's another thing, TV drama series around teenagers usually don't last more then a year or two, and sometimes that's too long. I talked about this once before on an old Top Ten List I did, but TV shows, and TV drama in particular, that center around teenagers rarely last long. This is the subgenre with the most notorious one-season wonders and second season failures, and if they do last longer then that, it's almost certainly for the worst, and there's plenty of good reasons for that. High school in particular is a very brief period of time, and kids age out of that in four years at the most. It's an awkward time period to begin with, and summer growth spurts and voice breaks can be weird for continuity. There's a lot of high school story cliches, most of which will seem afterschool special-y if done wrong, and sometimes stretching outside of those stories can make for even riskier jump the shark moments. There's also a general irksomeness to them if they can seem too accurate, ("PEN15" is really good at that feeling) that's probably not enticing for a mainstream viewer. There reasons why it's usually more prudent to focus shows like this on the parents, and have the kids be supporting players.... That's not entirely fair, 'cause kids and teenagers in particularly, should have their stories told from their points of view as well, but for a long-running series....- yeah. 

Maybe that's why I feel compelled to document my thoughts here, maybe I just don't know if I'm gonna to have another chance to. They are filming a second season of "Euphoria"; it got super-delayed from COVID but we'll see that turns out eventually. Maybe it'll be good, maybe not, perhaps it'll be more prudent to focus on the addictions aspects of it's main character, or just focus on the evolution of the characters themselves, regardless of high school being the center of their world or not..., we'll see. In the meantime, it's glad I saw this perspective on high school. Accurate portrayal for some, completely ridiculous to others, it got me thinking about it most anything and everything else ever has. If that's all that ends up with "Euphoria", I'd still say that's a pretty good accomplishment and one that should be recognized and commended.

Also, they better not break up Rue and Jules! Not anytime soon anyway!

No comments: