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Existential Binge-Watching: ‘Euphoria’ shows the possibilities of quarantine

COVID-19 essentially brought the entire world to a screeching halt. One day, daily life was moving forward, business as usual. The next, a flip was switched, and suddenly, everyone was stuck inside. This was especially applicable to all forms of entertainment: specifically, the production of new TV series and films.

The halting of film productions felt like an easier pill to swallow than the delayed production of new seasons of beloved shows. While it wasn’t great to see certain franchises put on hold, (looking at you, MCU) waiting a bit longer for a new film, especially one not part of any series, is much easier to endure than a longer wait for a TV show. When a new season of a series is delayed, that’s when worries of losing audience interest start to crop up.

For a show like Euphoria, though, it probably would’ve been easy to just wait until the production of its sophomore season could resume. The first was such a brightly colored concoction of teenage mayhem that it’s hard to ever forget. In fact, the second season could probably come out in a few years and fans would still flock to its premiere as if it had only been a few months.

Regardless, the series ended up releasing two special pandemic episodes. They serve as a bridge between seasons one and two, and more than that, they show the possibilities of TV and movie production in quarantine.

Both specials contain a small cast with a small production but are both absolutely brilliant in every single way. So much care and love were put into making each that a couple episodes, which could have just been written off as in between fillers, give the entirety of the first season a run for its money.

The first of the two, centering on Rue (Zendaya) and Ali (Colman Domingo), is mostly just the two of them having a conversation in a diner. From family to drug addiction and everything in between, it’s an hour-long talk that refuses to let the viewer's eyes leave the screen. The dialogue is impeccable, and both actors are astounding in their delivery, with beautifully framed and shot cinematography to boot.

The second special, revolving around Jules (Hunter Schafer) basically follows the same format as Jules goes through her first therapy session. It has a bit more cutaways and extras tacked on, but it’s again an extremely small, yet well done, production that has more than enough power to hold someone’s attention. It also allows Schafer, who co-wrote and co-executive produced the episode with series creator Sam Levinson, to shine in more ways than just acting.

Both specials truly showed the potential TV and film productions can have even while still under the restrictions of the pandemic. Just because the cast can’t all be there or the scale of the production isn’t quite as large as it once was doesn’t mean quarantine films or shows have to be less than their pre-COVID counterparts.

The Euphoria episodes were smart, played to their strengths, took advantage of what was possible and were so incredibly engaging and nuanced as a result. Not to mention, they set up the show well going forward into season two and definitely kept interest alive. It would be wise for other producers to take notes.

It’ll certainly be intriguing to see what elements of these specials might carry forward into the chaotically entrancing world of Euphoria.

Jackson Horvat is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.

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