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Where ‘Euphoria’ Is Surprisingly Conservative


There’s one scene from this season of “Euphoria” that sticks in my mind, and, somehow, it includes not even one close-up of a penis. It’s a conversation from the third and best episode, “Made You Look,” between Rue (Zendaya), the show’s emotionally and chemically unsteady narrator, and Jules (Hunter Schaefer), her closest companion and aspirational love interest.

Jules, who is transgender, is giddy over having made a date to meet Tyler, a boy from another high school whom she met on a gay dating app. Rue, lying next to her crush on a sunny stretch of grass, can’t quite process this information platonically, and instead bluntly questions the location of the proposed rendezvous — a lake on the edge of town.

Jules, accusing Rue of watching “way too much ‘Dateline,’” explains that Tyler’s mother is “super conservative,” and that he can’t risk being seen with a trans girl in public. But Rue isn’t having it.

RUE Honestly, Jules, I don’t really care about the situation, because it just doesn’t seem safe.

JULES I’ve been in situations that are way less safe.

RUE O.K., but that’s not really the point, right? The point is it’s dangerous.

JULES Rue, this is the difference between, like, you and me. Like, I don’t always get the privilege of meeting people in front of a [expletive] audience or something.

On the subject of how people forge intimacy online, Jules’s observation — that what might seem like reckless or desperate behavior to some is merely the cost of living for others — is the show at its disarming best. “Euphoria,” which features a now famous defense of nude selfies as “the currency of love,” has a natural champion in Jules, who believes in the internet, for all its perils, as a force for good in her life.


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