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The meaning of make-up in the TV series 'Euphoria'

In the Drake produced teen drama, beauty looks have a deeper significance

The meaning of make-up in the TV series 'Euphoria' In the Drake produced teen drama, beauty looks have a deeper significance

Update 26.11.2020: The beloved protagonist and recent Emmy winner Zendaya a few hours ago posted a teasing of Part 1: Rue on her Instagram profile, announcing the first of what will be the new special episodes of Euphoria, with the slogan "This is not Season 2". The first special episode of Euphoria was released on December 6th.

The second episode, on the other hand, dedicated to Hunter Schafer in the role of Jules, will air on January 24th, 2021. The appointment, in Italy, is for the night between January 24 and 25 at 03.00, on Sky Atlantic. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer!

American network television HBO launched back in June new TV series entitled Euphoria, one of the shows that best describes the difficulties encountered during the teenage years, presented here in an empathic and honest key. This teen-drama, created by Sam Levinson and produced by Drake and his manager Future The Prince, features seven teenagers - Rue, Jules, Nate, Maddie, Cassie, Kat and Mckay – always looking for new experiences and sensations characterized by excesses, risks and wild nights where drugs, sex, and violence are the main elements. The plot revolves around secrets and issues such as lack of self-esteem, physical and psychological abuse, identity crises, betrayals, and insecurities. The main character of the series is Rue Bennett, played by the former Disney star Zendaya, a seventeen-year-old drug addict that just got out of a rehabilitation clinic after an overdose. Once back home, it seems to her that nothing makes sense anymore but the monotony of her days will be interrupted by the arrival of Jules Vaughn, a transgender girl who has moved to the city as a result of family issues and with whom Rue will build more than just a friendship. 

As well as the plot, the background and the aesthetic of the series is also very layered and accurate. The restlessness of the characters presented in the series is also illustrated by a creative medium such as make-up, which follows the ups and downs that every character is experiencing. The staging of Euphoria has an incredibly defined aesthetic that goes beyond the choice of scripts or sets. The makeup worn during the series has the power to describe every feature of the character being examined, showing who they are and what they are feeling at that particular moment. We will see style changes that will go from an eccentric graphic look to pastel tones eyeshadows marked by the excessive use of glitter. The make-up artist of the show, Doniella Davy, got most of her inspiration from the Gen Z and its ability to challenge conventional beauty standards and experiment creatively with new looks. Each character in the series has a style aimed at describing their plot and their lifestyle represented by a deeply emotional and semiotic study behind every detail. The looks proposed in the series are particularly significant in revealing what the characters are feeling and experiencing. 

The sparkling and vibrant make-up of the protagonists is in contrast with the darkness of their lives. All the rhinestones and glitter used for the Euphoria looks symbolize innocence and adolescent fantasy but also they represent the painful and disappointing aspect of growing and facing all the problems that this delicate phase of life involves. Davy herself points out that make-up is emotionally evocative because it makes the viewer perceive something more than what a naked face could convey. 

With a character like Kat (Barbie Ferreira), there is a total transformation of her aesthetic identity. In the beginning, she does not wear make-up because she's not confident enough to pull it, but later we will see the start of a new phase where she will experience a completely different look, which reflects a more rebel and alternative version of Kat.

Jules (Hunter Schafer), instead, is described as an artist and her looks reflect this, they're sometimes cheeky and playful, sometimes darker and goth. In the series, we can notice that these sudden changes of look reveal the mood of the character. Each of these looks is directly linked to what Jules is experiencing in that particular phase of her life. The protagonist has the ability to experiment with eccentric looks marked by the use of neon and pastel colors, graphic lines and abstract looks but we will see her personality change and get darker due to the disappointments she has to face.

While at school the face of Rue (Zendaya) remains almost bare, when the character goes out she always wears a rhinestone-rich make-up at the bottom of her eyes. This last detail should be seen in a dramatic way since the use of these glitters represents the tears resulting from a painful crying. Just like Rue's head, her looks are also made to look messy and unkempt.

Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), on the other hand, is more oriented towards those who she wants to attract rather than who she wants to be. In fact, the protagonist is desperate for attention from the boys she likes and which she tries to seduce by using a make-up that turns out to be sexy but conventional. In the last part of the series we will see a change in her, she will move away from trying to impress the boy she likes and will be devoted only to herself and to what she really wants to be.  

One of the most talked-about characters of the series is surely Maddy (Alexa Demie). She uses make-up as a defense mechanism that protects her from the judgment of others. Her look is often exaggerated and characterized by glittery eye shadows, fake eyelashes, rhinestones and she even wears make-up embellished with studs and chains. But behind this aesthetic boldness, there is a strong vulnerability that the protagonist tries to hide behind her way of dressing or putting on make-up. 

Along with the make-up, one of the first things that strike about Euphoria is the attention dedicated to the wardrobe of the protagonists. In fact in one of the first scenes we see McKay (Algee Smith) and Fez (Angus Cloud) wearing streetwear brands like Supreme or Stüssy. Even the main character of the series, Rue, makes her debut on stage wearing a Gosha Rubchinskiy tie-dye shirt and Maddy shows up a purple GIA two-piece. Was it a conscious decision to include some of these popular streetwear brands in the series? Sure. In fact, the director, on the advice of the various stage costume designers, has decided to represent today's youth for what it is, without filters or censorship. After careful analysis, it turned out that most of the young people prefer using streetwear brands, which are fashionable but at the same time cheaper than high-end clothes. 

After the huge success in the USA, Euphoria finally lands in Italy as well, on Sky Atlantic from September 26.