Euphoria released two special episodes over the course of last two months — Ones that are specifically tagged as Not Season 2. They work as all the moderately good specials do, they give us insight into the inner workings of central characters without progressing the plot as much. Euphoria is one of my favourite shows and that might make be biased, but it’s two of the best dialogue work I have seen in a show.
The first episode is set at a dinner booth for it’s entirety of an hour with two of main characters — Rue and Ali talking to each other. They go through a plethora of well meaning lies and heart breaking reveals with each other, but at the end you come through as though you attended a therapy session. Speaking of therapy, the second episode consists of Jules taking a therapy session. It has a character talking to a therapist, one of the laziest exposition dumps that modern movies has but laces it with flashbacks to make it interesting.
Both episodes are driven by some amazing actors — The first by Zendaya playing Rue to perfection and Colman Domingo playing broken much older Ali. It starts off with Rue who is high and closed out to any meaningful conversation but as the episode goes by opens up to some serious trauma in her life and what shaped her as a person. It also showcases the journey of Ali, so far just another generous sponsor to delve deeper into what he has gone through to get to this point. When they pulled this awesome episode in December, I thought to myself Oh! well that isn’t going to happen again, but it did. The second episode is driven by Hunter Schafer who plays Jules (who also wrote the episode), even though it’s a lazy plot device Jules does not say what we need to hear. As conversation continues, we as a viewer understand why she took the extreme decision that she did, but we find out about her psyche along with her. She is telling us this is why, it’s often the subtext or the therapist reaction to it that explains why.
Euphoria is a show that has drawn a lot of flak over just the first season for explicit depiction it’s depiction of sex, drugs and angst. But these have been part of teen shows forever (as The Irish Times notes, even as far as Bret Easton Ellis 1985 cult classic novel Less than Zero) What makes Euphoria special is that none of these are central plot, they are just part of the lives of characters that they are casual with. It doesn’t give off the energy that the characters are struggling through it, they are most casual and effortless as they take colorful drug filled rides or have sex in public party at a visible swimming pool. It’s melancholic to the end of a Billie Eilish song.
Here are some of my favourite creators who talk about how to make a conversation in cinema.
Here are my favourite movies that are based on long and deep conversations.