Euphoria: A character analysis


Source: HBO, Press Release photo

Eliana Hernandez

The TV show Euphoria streamed through HBO, discusses the struggles and hardships teens in the 21st century are going through and has helped them know they are not alone. The topics discussed in the show include drug abuse, the pressure placed on teens, the oversexualization of women, body image issues, toxic/abusive relationships, absent parents, struggles with sexuality as well as the hardships transgender individuals go through. Since the topics listed are incredibly touchy and not for the faint of heart the show is labeled TV-MA and viewers should watch with the awareness of their own limits. Disclaimer: this article will contain spoilers. 

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Each episode, with the exception of two, is narrated by fellow character Rue Bennett, a recovering drug addict. The reason this is mentioned is because during the episode and the directors take, which is a separate clip that comes after all episodes, brought up the case of the fact which is, the narrator is a drug addict who is in recovery only after she met Jules Vaughn, her love interest. This new fact has caused viewers to cast doubt on everything they have been told about the characters since they were narrated by Rue who has been proven to be an unreliable source. However, Rue may only be telling her side of things as well as what she believes to be true, below is an analysis of the characters based on what Rue has told us first beginning with Rue giving us her brief life story. 



Source: HBO Homepage, Press Release photo

In the first episode of Euphoria Rue Bennett is in a Rehab Center after having a near fatal drug overdose, from an early age she has endured a plethora of mental disorders such as ADHD, OCD, Anxiety, and depression. Another triggering experience in her life was her father dying from cancer when she was very young, which is what led to her drug abuse. So many teens may vape and defend that it is not bad and that it helps them focus but in reality they are addicted, and instead of being criticized and ridiculed they need to know that what they are doing is self destructive and it may be numbing or distracting them from the pain it is in the end ruining them and we see that in Rue. Drugs turned Rue into a fiend who was simply a little girl who needed help This is a free drug abuse hotline (888)459-5511


Source: HBO Homepage, Press Release photo


In many ways Nate Jacobs is the  antagonist of the story. From the first episode he is shown to be quick to anger, immature and disrespectful to women. He is the quarterback of the football team and his father is a prominent member of the town. Nate’s rage and trauma stems from inappropriate sexual acts his father, Kal Jacobs. Nate struggled with his sexuality and most likely like his father had desires that were out of the norm for the town which is a common reality for so many members of the LGBTQ+ community. Nate’s character was able to show how denying who you are can lead to anger and sadness. It is important for teens to know that no matter where you are or what you are surrounded by, understanding who you are is who you are and you don’t have to be ashamed of that. This is an LGBTQ+ Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 



Source: HBO Homepage, Press Release photo

In the first episode Jules Vaughn is the new girl to school and is shown to be her own person, she is a transgender female and is not afraid to be herself which is expressed through her eccentric style. Rue explains how in her early years before her transition Jules had a very hard time, and would harm herself. Luckily she made her transition and her father was fully supportive and has been shown to be very loving and understanding. Although Jules’ experience with being Trans was a better version of what some trans individuals may go through it is still important for members of that community to see a peer prosper and truly be who she is meant to be. This is a Transgender Advisory Hotline: 1-877-427-3230



Source: HBO Homepage, Press Release photo


The character Kat Hernandez is a plus size female who has always struggled with the way she views her body and was in the shadow of her friends Maddy and Cassie a lot of the time. However after Kat began having an inappropriate online life and gained the attention of men which helped her to learn through male validation that she was beautiful. Although this is definitely not always the best way to learn to love yourself, for Kat it worked but she didn’t constantly seek it out. Ultimately she learned that it doesn’t matter what she looks like because men like whatever they like and the mass media makes girls and others believe there is a beauty standard. Young girls through Kat were able to see that even big can be beautiful and powerful and size does not and will never matter. 



Source: HBO Homepage, Press Release photo

The character Maddy is a teenage girl who is the embodiment of confidence, and according to Rue her past is a bit of a promiscuous one. Maddy and Nate were newly broken up during the time of the first episode but after Maddy had an encounter with a guy named Tyler at a party she lied to Nate and said she blacked out meaning she was assaulted.  Although it’s always important to believe the victim, this is a serious accusation. After Nate attacks Tyler out of revenge, Nate and Maddy get back together. However, Nate is physically abusive towards Maddy. Their relationship shows a toxic and abusive relationship that Maddy believed to be love since it is better then what her parents have, but it isn’t. It is important to know that if someone truly loves you they would not intentionally do anything that would hurt you. This is a domestic abuse hotline 1-800-799-7233. 



Source: HBO Homepage, Press Release photo


Chris McKay known as McKay is a more minor character that is Nate’s best friend and is in college but previously attended their high school, and was a prominent member of the football team and got a scholarship through it. McKay’s character portrayed the pressure teens are put under both by school, society and even parents. He was the star football player whose father was the coach of the football team and always demanded excellence. Although his character does a good job of keeping his cool, the stress inevitably will get to him. Teens whose peers have high expectations can definitely relate to McKay, he is a young man who is feeling the realities of the world and it is getting to him. At a time like this everyone is beyond stressed but that does not lessen the importance of an individual’s stress, The best thing to do is to communicate your feelings and do what you love to distract yourself. 



Source: HBO Homepage, Press Release photo

Last but not least is Cassie, Cassie is a beautiful young lady who has a relationship with McKay. Based on Rue’s narration Cassie’s father got into an accident and was on pain medication which he became addicted to, which then led to him leaving his family and becoming a heroin addict. Cassie is a very popular and attractive young woman, which has led many boys at their school to disrespect and slut-shame her. Despite this Cassie is very much in love with McKay but we can see based on her past she does a lot for the boys she falls in love with and sadly they don’t care for her in the same way. Cassie tends to seek out male validation which is a result of her fathers actions. Her story is one of the saddest since, I’d argue she never did anything wrong, she was just a young girl who loved and wanted to be loved. A story I believe so many kids with absent parents can relate to, but it is refreshing to see that through Cassie she will hopefully learn her value and stop letting these people belittle her. 


Based on all this it is evident Euphoria is a show not for the faint of heart, and along with the depthful characters and plot there is amazing makeup, fashion, cinematography and a beautiful soundtrack given to us by Labrinth, a black creator who is undeniably talented. This show allows you to see others who are going through the same things as you still live their lives and prosper. Although a lot was left unanswered at the end of season one, hopefully we see these characters grow and overcome their adversities in season two.