Last night’s episode of Euphoria was jam packed with triggering scenes surrounding domestic violence/abuse and giving the bigger picture on the destructive forces behind addiction, but this time the addiction being love instead of drugs. Love can be a destructive and exciting affair, or it can be a walk in the park accompanied by an ongoing euphoric high, but either way it doesn’t end nicely.
To keep it real, I think Maddy was doomed from the start romance-wise from a young age, not only because of the stale, lifeless marriage her parents shared but also the fact that her confidence was fueled by shallow, superficial admiration from strangers via beauty pageants and scores. She has yet to view what love actually should be, platonic or not, yet alone experience that for herself.
“Love is a million things, sometimes it feels good sometimes it doesn’t. The one thing I know is that Nate loves me no matter what, he’d fucking kill for me and I’d kill for him. It feels good to know that there’s one person in this whole fucked up world who has my back. You think I want this? You live in the same house and don’t even say a word to each other! That’s the difference between me and you.”
The problem is that she’s searching for a way to avoid experiencing the lack of love present between her parents and she ended up finding something way worse with Nate because it disguises itself as love when it’s something more sinister. Maddy’s loose definition of what love is why many people are lost on what it is, what it looks like, and what its function is. bell hooks (yes I’m about to go there but only briefly) defined love as a combination of care, commitment, trust, knowledge, responsibility, open honesty, and respect, and if even just one of those things is missing then it cannot qualify as love. Unfortunately none of those things are really present when it comes to Maddy and Nate’s relationship.
If they cared for each other Nate wouldn’t have choked her and been so controlling, and Maddy wouldn’t have lied to him about being a virgin and having sex with several other guys. If they were committed to one another there wouldn’t have ever been any lies to begin with and they wouldn’t have been so on and off, and Nate wouldn’t have been texting Jules on Grindr. If they trusted one another Maddy wouldn’t have gone through his phone and found those dick pics. If they were equipped with the knowledge needed to be in a healthy relationship, they most likely wouldn’t be together in the first place because they’re attracted to each other for all the wrong reasons. If they were responsible they would be open with each other and communicate about their differences instead of butting heads all the time and chalking it up to an intense love. If they respected one another they wouldn’t be hurting each other.
To know what love is not, is the first step to knowing what love is.
“I know you’re really upset right now and you don’t want to hear this but trust me when I tell you the person that did this… doesn’t love you.”
When Maddy threatened Cassie and even tried to fight the police in order to defend Nate, I knew she was in deep. That’s the type of shit addicts do. They get violent, they make excuses, they don’t want help, they don’t want to be separated from their drug, their source of (false) happiness. Maddy had come to the realization that her relationship with Nate is unhealthy and dangerous, even if she won’t admit it out loud. That realization alone is enough to shatter a dream, and shattered dreams never feel good.
I think there’s an obligatory period of anger that all people go through after departing from a toxic, abusive relationship. Anger stemming from being alone now, with no addiction left to fill the void and having to face the music without any distractions. But even more so there’s anger after coming to terms with the fact that you were abused. How could they have done that? How could you let that happen to yourself? How could you continue to left that happen? The self-blaming floods in and you become angry at failing to protect yourself.
She’s now grieving her broken fantasy of their relationship, floating between the stages of anger and denial. Her and Rue are prime examples of how love functions as a drug, an addiction. It makes you do crazy things, it keeps you chasing something that’s not good for you, it keeps you on an emotional rollercoaster that’s hard to get off of.
What Rue said about Maddy in the very beginning was probably my favorite line in the entire episode, “It wasn’t the violence that scared her, it was the fact that she knew that no matter what he did, she’d still love him.” because that’s real as fuck. We have this notion that love is outside of our control when it really isn’t, but it is harder to get a hold of when your brain is on a dopamine high and can’t determine whether the source is good or bad, all you know is that you feel good and you’ll keep doing what you have to do to get it, even if that means putting yourself through hell with someone who treats you horribly.
Love Is A Drug
“There is not a thing on planet earth that compares to Fentanyl, except Jules. Jules is a close second. And you know what would be better? Jules and Fentanyl, but I can’t have both because Jules won’t have me. So for now, I’ll choose Jules.”
Whether or not Rue is genuinely in love with Jules is really up for debate I think. They definitely love one another but I don’t think Rue has ever sat and and been honest with herself about whether she loves Jules as a person entirely or if she likes the way Jules makes her feel for the most part. The same way Nate uses Maddy as an object to control and conquer, Rue also uses Jules as a bandaid for her addiction, something else less dangerous to fill the void with.
Rue needs excitement, a high, something to keep living for, stimulation, and Jules is that very thing. But love operates in the human mind like a drug too, and it can easily become an addiction if we’re not careful by enforcing boundaries with ourselves and those around us. I’m rooting for Rue and I’m really hoping that she finds a way to cope with her addiction and being sober without taking up new vices and being codependent. Life can feel boring once you’re stable and have come down from that toxic high. I was the same way after I ended a toxic relationship. I felt like something was missing, like I needed excitement and something to obsess over again because what was peace to everyone else was boredom to me.
Learning that she was the only thing standing between Rue and another drug overdose that could result in death this time, was overwhelming for Jules, but I don’t think it’s quite enough for her to become so distant and alarmed over just yet. I feel like this is something she probably should’ve expected and be equipped to deal with if you make the decision to because best friends with someone who struggles with addiction. But maybe that’s just me.
Of course Jules has her own issues to deal with, having to worry about the dark cloud looming over her that is the Jacobs family and being trans, but if anything I think that’s all the more reason for her and Rue to become closer. Jules is afraid to be the sole responsibility for Rue’s sobriety because she knows that at the end of the day, she can’t give Rue what she wants, not entirely. It’s practically a life or death situation that needs to be handled delicately, as Rue’s mother warned her in the beginning. They both need each other for different reasons and that’s okay because we all need someone, but I hope they have a candid conversation soon about Rue’s feelings for her and her sobriety because Jules doesn’t deserve to have that burden but Rue doesn’t deserve to be abandoned out of fear either.
“What happens in a month? 6 months? A year? When she moves away and goes to college? When she tells you she just wants to be friends?”
Ali asking the important questions and trying to prepare Rue for the unsavory outcomes that life has in its bag of tricks is important, especially for maintaining sobriety because things will happen in life that makes you wanna say fuck it and relapse, and you have to be prepared for that as best you can. I wish I had someone like that alongside me when I was younger to keep it real with me and keep me in check, guidance and mentorship is very underrated and something that some folks really take for granted. Rue has an intense fear, as most people do especially when you’re young, about the love and connection she has with Jules not transforming into something better or even lasting. Because what’s the point in living when nothing good lasts anyway? Life is a series of highs and lows, so why not just do drugs anyway to get the same effect? There’s nothing worse than when you’re finally getting your life together and feeling optimistic, and have to face the fact that nothing lasts forever.
Friendship, The Salve For All Wounds
Kinship is a theme in this show that I’m loving the most because I’m only just recently grasping the full importance of having someone in your corner, you don’t even need a group of friends. Even if you just have that one person in your corner then you’re solid. I loved seeing Rue put in the effort to repair her friendship with Lexi, making plans to spend time as a trio with Jules by her side as well.
Someone that I wish could grab that concept of friendship a little better is Kat. Her growth, although bumpy and slightly problematic, has been great to see thus far. She’s becoming unafraid to take up space in a world that literally tells her to shrink herself every chance it gets, and even better, her exposure to men has desensitized her to the fear and intimidate that often arises in young women when it comes to boys.
“No matter how cool or sexy or smart you think a guy is, they’re actually just fucking pathetic.”
But even despite that, she let her insecurities control her in the last episode and possibly ruined what could’ve been a good thing with Ethan. Kat jumped to conclusions and is now being passive aggressive, becoming a slave to her negative emotions. And it’s funny too because in the end, she’s the one who fucked another guy, meanwhile Ethan was only talking to his sister’s coworker about covering her shift. Insecurities can really snowball and make things a lot worse than you initially thought they were.
“My whole life, all I’ve tried to do is take up less space. Try to hide from guys who might whisper to their friend under their breath as I walked by. I’ve spent my whole life afraid people were gonna find out that I was fat. But honestly who gives a shit?”
Kat is on a steady path to becoming a solid individual when it comes to her confidence but she still has some ways to go when it comes to her relationship with men and how heavily her insecurities effect that. I’ve noticed a theme of this show subtly trying to sell the narrative that these underaged girls are empowered by selling sex and engaging in casual sex so early on in their girlhood, but it’s not.
Maddy had sex with a 40 year old when she was like 16 and she still doesn’t know what love is and what an abuser looks like. Kat felt pressured to lose her virginity and ended up having a sex tape of her on the internet, then consequently engaging in sex work as an underage teen because she enjoys the money and sexual admiration from random men that she gets from it. She also blew Maddy off, her friend, to blow someone else off in the passenger seat.
There’s an imbalance between how much she invests in herself, which includes sustaining a foundation of friendships, and how much she invests with men, and the latter is a lot. If she’s not careful she could totally turn into that friend that either brings her boyfriend everywhere or is nowhere to be found once she does get a boyfriend, getting swallowed up whole by men when it should be the other way around.
Like Father, Like Son
Cal and Nate really bore the shit out of me, I’m not going to lie. They have an odd familial relationship, Nate even said they don’t speak much but he knows he’s the favorite son. Nate and his father have this odd, psychopathic and telepathic connection with each other with this Norman Bates/American Psycho thing going on. It’s almost as if they’re both just living life on their own version of autopilot, Nate’s habits and mindset inherited directly from Cal.
Despite them being kind of boring and freakish to me, i continue to pay close attention to them because I’m still worried for Jules and Maddy, but especially Jules. She’s trans and Cal treats her like his dirtiest secret, despite him cheating on his wife with multiple people for god knows how long. Nate is blackmailing her and Cal surely doesn’t want anyone to ever know that they were even in contact. Cal owns half the town which means he has money, and money is power. Cal struck me as the kind of man who made his problems go away by buying people’s silence or murdering them and making sure the crime remains in the cold case files for eternity, ruining and taking lives for the sake of their pristine, heterosexual reputation. But hearing his confession in the motel room confused me because he does indeed have feelings and remorse about how he raised his sons and he (allegedly) has no intentions on hurting Jules. But still, him and Nate are both psychopaths and it’s nerve wracking because we really have no idea what they have up their sleeve next or if they’re even going to do anything for sure.
One thing I will say I was pleasantly shocked about and gave me a sliver of hope was how well the police cooperated with Maddy and Nate’s case. I was honestly expecting the police to be on Cal’s payroll or for him to have some kind of connections over there to make it all go away, but instead he had to give his son a pep talk to roll with the punches of the aftermath, because they both knew there were consequences to their actions. But do they care enough to face them entirely? I don’t know just yet.
Honorary Mention: Jules’s dad, Mr. Vaughn
He’s a sweetheart and has officially joined the ranks of fictional parents that I wish could’ve adopted me.
See y’all next week.