Euphoria, HBO’s newest drama, revolves around Rue Bennett, a 17-year-old woman struggling with drug addiction, depression and anxiety who turns to drugs to cope with the feeling that she is just existing in a world moving faster than she can keep up. Rue is played by musician and actress, Zendaya, and prior to the premier of Euphoria, Zendaya put a disclaimer on her social media saying that this was for mature audiences and that some scenes can be hard to watch and potentially triggering. HBO also placed a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode to warn the audience of the drug addiction, sex scenes, and violence.
Euphoria Spoilers Ahead:
The eight-episode story starts off with Rue expressing that she remembered a time where she was truly happy and content, and beyond her control she was crushed over and over by the “cruel cervix of [her] mother Leslie.” After vividly being pushed out of the womb Rue continues with the origin of her drug addiction. She was born three days after 9/11 and though it should be the happiest day of her parents’ life, they watched the news as they “gave way to grief and numbness,” a motif that spread into Rue’s life right from birth. Rue grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs of America with loving parents, a nice home, access to clean water, clean clothes, and plenty of food – and yet, she struggled with the drag of anxiety and depression her entire life. She goes on to say that she had a good life, her addiction is just how her brain was wired.
Rue’s drug addiction started when her parents, concerned with her mental state, brought her to see a therapist, where she was prescribed having anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, and possible bipolar disorder. Rue’s mother was responsible for compiling her morning cocktail of prescription medicines and showed the smallest hint of mixing up the ratios that she was allotted. Most opioid addictions and overdose deaths start with prescription pain medicine. Rue explained that she has no recollection of her medically induced childhood between the ages of 8-12, other than the world moving “too fast” and her brain “too slow” to keep up.
Drug Addiction Leads to Further Decline
The scenes cut to moments of anxiety for Rue like self-image, her father not in the picture (later to learn he passed), hiding away during a school shooting drill, and the pressures of sex and porn in early adolescence. Rue’s anxiety attacks would flare when she focused too hard on her breathing prompting her to desire stronger medication like Xanax, which she would steal from her mother’s cabinet and other street drugs like cocaine. After mixing a variety of cocaine, excessive alcohol, and pain medication she claimed she found her moment of Euphoria – where her chest gets so heavy and she falls into a state of total silence, tiptoeing on the edge of death, the moment right before her heart takes one more beat in an effort to keep her alive.
The summer before her junior year of high school, she went through the motions of rehab with the intent that she would use again. As the show progresses, you see how her mother has changed over time to become more grief stricken and stressed about her daughter’s addiction, which inevitably tears her family apart. Though she is cognizant of her actions, she can’t help herself saying, “If I can be a different person I would.”