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New ‘Euphoria’ special is a stunning showcase for Hunter Schafer

New ‘Euphoria’ special is a stunning showcase for Hunter Schafer

New ‘Euphoria’ special is a stunning showcase for Hunter Schafer
January 29
12:00 2021

Warning: Spoiler alert!

The best aspect of “Euphoria” is how its character work complements its filmmaking. Almost the entire ensemble cast was given time to shine with Sam Levinson’s superb writing that was matched with the series’ now iconic color palette, camerawork and soundtrack. If there is still debate about whether the show is more style than substance, the last two specials have the potential to put them to rest.

Similar to Rue’s episode, “F–k Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Slob” mainly takes place over a single conversation, this time with Jules (Hunter Shafer) attending a therapy session as she reflects over a myriad of topics: her relationship with Rue (Zendaya), her views on femininity, the spiritual essence of being trans and her relationship with “Tyler” (Jacob Elordi). Initially cold and reluctant to share, Jules gradually opens up and expresses her deepest, darkest feelings.

As the posters and advertisements suggest, this is not season two, but rather an epilogue to what came before. We still do not know what has happened to the rest of the cast of characters, and neither does Rue or Jules. These are character pieces focusing on the two central parts of the show, and how they view their impact on one another. It is a welcome change of pace compared to the chaotic and almost grand feel of the first season. This simple, more intimate approach gave Zendaya the opportunity to truly shine as Rue in her most vulnerable and open performance yet. Here, the viewer can finally see Jules’ story through her eyes: her loves, her fears, her life– both for the character and actor.

Having Hunter Schafer co-write the episode alongside series creator Sam Levinson brings a level of authenticity to Jules only hinted at in the first season. She delivers every line with such conviction, honesty and vulnerability. She is basically alone with her own thoughts, with the camera, through extremely long takes, capturing Schafer’s effortlessly brilliant performance as Jules comes to grips with some hard truths she had always known. For a series known for its elaborate camera movements, the writing and acting truly take center stage here. It still boggles the mind how Schafer was never nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe for the first season.

Levinson manages to bring back some of the iconic imagery and visual flair the series is known for. The episode opens with a montage of her and Rue’s relationship playing out inside Shaefer’s eyes. It is a long, uninterrupted take that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the episode. Her monologue about her love for the ocean is intercut with a dreamy sequence. Jules lying on a beach as the water rushes over her, nostalgically captured on celluloid film. It is a beautiful and startling contrast to the quiet and muted colors of where she finds herself now.

Though it is light in the way of plot and story progression, these two specials give the characters the opportunity to sit and reflect on what they have gone through. Levinson’s talent for character writing made an hour-long diner conversation be filled with emotion, heartbreak and soul. Add that with Schafer’s handle on the Jules character, and the result is a raw, intimate and visually ambitious character study of one of the most beloved television characters in recent memory.

Whatever season two of “Euphoria” holds for Rue and Jules, these two specials have shown a depth other shows can only dream of achieving in their entire run. “F–k Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Slob” delivers a poignant and brutally personal look at the show’s breakout star, this time in her own words.

Final rating: 4.75/5

Featured image: Courtesy HBO

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Kevin Diaz

Kevin Diaz

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