Hunter Schafer and Zendaya in “Euphoria.” (Eddy Chen / HBO)

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Jules is Rue’s strongest drug in ‘Euphoria’ Season 2

Rue and Jules are a wildly complicated, yet fan-favorite relationship in "Euphoria." Viewers question whether their relationship is helping or hurting Rue's addiction struggles because of her reliance on Jules to keep her sobriety.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/ellawarnerr/" target="_self">Ella Warner</a>

Ella Warner

January 19, 2022
The second season of HBO’s Emmy Award-winning TV series “Euphoria” aired January 9, reintroducing viewers to the reality of teenagers and their relationship with sex, drugs and each other.

Euphoria” follows Rue (Zendaya), through her instability with drug addiction and how it affects her loved ones. Throughout Season 1, the person who helps Rue stay sober is Jules (Hunter Schafer), who gets romantically close with Rue. Nevertheless, in the finale of Season One, Jules and Rue make a plan to run away together, but Rue stays behind ultimately leading to her relapse. 

As a teenager, it is easy to see the connections between “Euphoria” and my high school experience thus far, which is why I believe so many young adults crave its content.

Besides that, the show manages to attract young viewers because of its general aesthetic, especially with makeup and fashion.

On a greater scale, the characters are all going through their trauma and a major theme through Season Two is individuality, a concept most high schoolers are experimenting with. 

With this comes a deep dive into the protagonist, Rue, who is a wise yet careless teenager in search of stability, but nowhere near abandoning drugs from her lifestyle. As a viewer, frustration builds up as we know what Rue should be doing, getting clean, but we see her do the opposite.

Rue’s ability to ignore the pleas from the people around her to get clean is like watching a horror movie character follow a cursed sound from afar, all the audience wants to do is scream, “Don’t follow that sound!” and see the protagonist leave the haunted area. As I said, this tends to be the case with Rue, as she has a strong support system, but enjoys the euphoria that blocks out the noise from the real world … the drama and naïveté. 

The only person who has been close to cracking the case with Rue is Jules, although non-exclusive, the two love each other more than friends. As explored within the second season’s trailer, they have grown enough to express their feelings and definitively mark themselves as dating.

The million-dollar question is, how is Jules going to affect Rue’s addiction? During the early stages of their friendship, Rue sees how much of a burden she is on Jules, and decides to take the necessary steps toward sobriety. However, Rue’s sobriety is solely based on how available Jules is.

This form of attachment positively affects Rue at the moment, but looking at this situation long-term raises speculation about how this will conflict with Rue’s relationship with drugs. 

It is a fact that there is no future in addiction, ergo, Rue has trouble envisioning her future until Jules enters the picture. Simply, when Rue is with Jules she is more likely to overcome her addiction because Jules fulfills her with everything the drugs once did. However, being in a relationship while trying to battle addiction is challenging because there is not enough energy to be placed in both situations.

Hunter Schafer, above, and Zendaya in a scene from “Euphoria” Season 1. (HBO)

Alas, we need to remind ourselves that Rue is still a teenager and has dealt with more trauma, making her wise among her years. Rue’s challenges with attachment and addiction more likely than not stem from her father’s death (and the original owner of the burgundy zip-up that is now a staple in Rue’s closet).

According to the Addiction Center, many people who suffer from death-associated addiction replace the deceased person with a substance. Rue did this as her father was slipping away, and remained abusive because it is her escape. Now, it is possible that the idea of Jules, or having a strong relationship with someone, reminds Rue of her father. While comparing Jules to a drug seems cruel, Rue and Jules’ relationship fuels the symptoms of addiction. 

Even though the two seem stronger together, they are equally as fragile apart. Jules is still struggling with her femininity, and her mom’s substance abuse, whereas Rue acts upon impulsivity and carelessness. In the first season, whenever they were apart, Rue managed to relapse and Jules lost herself.

So it is challenging to determine whether their relationship helps the two, or is slowly deteriorating their well-being. Because of Rue’s constant fear of losing Jules, she has proven herself reliant on a person rather than drugs, possibly making sobriety easier in the upcoming season.

But, this fix is only temporary as losing Jules will only place Rue back where she started. Plus, Jules’ unwavering care for Rue creates a dependency on her end, as she feels the need to protect Rue from a possible relapse.

The couple acknowledges their need for each other but they never truly act on it until fate pulls them apart at the train station. But since addiction is so unstable, Jules and Rue will always find each other, only to repeat the euphoric cycle they have been craving since their separation.

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