Euphoria

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Never Cursed
Such is life on board the Redoutable
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:22 am

Re: Euphoria

#26 Post by Never Cursed » Sat Jan 23, 2021 4:52 am

Full-disclosure criticism out of the way first: Fuck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob is not quite as good as the first special, trading some of the latter's immediate raw grounded power for an stylized/unfettered nonlinearity that hits less hard just by virtue of being more abstract. Both shows use the the same structure of a therapy session as narrative spine, but as befits the episode dominated by a first-time patient rather than a seasoned sponsor, there isn't as strong a central voice to guide the viewer through the process of sifting through Jules' experiences (and there are a lot of tangents, some of which feel weirdly spurred on for someone so early in therapy, as opposed to the razor focus of the first special). That said, I still loved the episode, and I think it effectively used these limitations (as well as the more obvious, public-health-crisis-imposed ones) to mimic its main character's more uncertain approach to her issues with gender identity and love, with the highlight being
SpoilerShow
an impressionistic collection of sex scenes where a memory of fantasy is intruded upon by more immediate real-world anxieties - top marks to the score in this section as well, which mixes elements of a Spanish-language ballad with a droning lurch for the descent into hell.
Hunter Schaefer is amazing in an egoless (her crying scenes remind me of another master of verisimilitudinous ugly-crying, Vincent Lacoste in Amanda) self-authored and somewhat autobiographical central performance, honestly outshining Zendaya as far as the special episodes are concerned. There's a lot of recontextualization in the special owing to Jules' alternate perception of events from Rue, almost to the point of retcon in a couple places, but these moments never feel cheap because Levinson uses these duelling incompatible narratives to explore the feelings of unknowability and mutual misunderstanding between the two. That's the philosophy behind this episode too - it's messy, meandering, and occasionally self-contradictory, but all in the service of a bittersweet poignant understanding of maturation that is difficult to express.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Euphoria

#27 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:15 am

I rewatched Fuck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob, was able to resign some of my issues with it- mainly the ethereal anti-rhythm of her flight-of-ideas/memory visualizations, and came away loving it. I particularly appreciated the complex views on expected responsibility from oneself and of others in relationships, as well as this concept of spirituality- something Jules describes as individualized and personal, an achievable state she's experienced; yet there's a contrast of anti-spirituality in some of her rough experiences engaging in toxic expectations sourced in the safety of solipsistic fantasies (I'm going to pretend the therapist is also a fantasy, because she's just the worst). The safety of getting to know someone through imagination is also touched on in an interesting way, surely an esoteric gen z cultural phenomenon of intimacy via physical detachment into technology, but still relatable in the sense that ideals die once we contest with another three-dimensional person in the flesh, and that compromise destroys that rigid faux-security of love on our terms.

As another layer to the complementary nature of these two specials' singular yet eccentrically mirrored perspectives, Jules' subjective position in coping with significant people in her life struggling with addiction is invaluable to Rue's narrative, and Levinson's overarching composite of recovery. It's a very raw and real look at 'the other side', from the viewpoint of the those in relationships with addicts, who endure pain, trauma, and take on accountability and the burden of non-existent control. If Levinson's recovery program is as solid as it seems to be, I imagine his most significant contributions to this story is putting on an Al-Anon hat- giving a voice to those who are affected by the condition. It's an important part of the program, the selfless peripheral reminders of the hostages taken to counteract the selfish roots of the stepwork that must start with the addict, but not remain there forever. The Jules of the world are the people who have a better day if the Rues stay sober, and their perceptions need to be honored with the same degree of empathic, impressionistic detail.

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