Exploring Jules’ Outlook on Relationships in HBO’s ‘Euphoria’

On Jan. 24th, the last installment of Euphoria’s two-part special was released. The whole episode is a first-time therapy session where the exuberant and free-spirited Jules (Hunter Schafer) explores the dimensions of her various relationships. She discusses her relationship with her sexuality, her online relationships and how her relationship with her close friend Rue (Zendaya) resembles her relationship with her mother. 

In the first minutes of the special, Jules expresses her thoughts about going off of her hormones. She follows this by saying, “I feel like my entire life I’ve been trying to conquer femininity. And, somewhere along the way, I feel like femininity conquered me.” Jules reveals that she has always picked parts of her personality from other people that she has been surrounded with, and that this process has led her to question the biggest part of herself. She feels as though the ideas of what define classic femininity are those that she has taken from other people in an effort to make her the most feminine she could be. Yet, through this process, the femininity that she has taken and absorbed has seemingly overpowered her. This imbalance of how she perceives herself and her sexuality not only leads Jules to second-guess her choice to transition, but also allows her to acknowledge that her femininity has been made and will continue to be made through various experiences she has in her life. 

HBO

As the episode progresses, Jules begins to discuss her relationship with Rue. This is the first time throughout the series where we are able to see Jules’ raw, unfiltered thoughts when it comes to Rue. This allows us to get inside Jules’ head, and essentially find out for the first time how she feels about Rue, without Rue being the one telling us. In tears, Jules says, “I feel like her sobriety is, like, completely dependent on how available I am to her…Like what if she relapses cause I’m not there?” This one question instructs us to look back at the debut season and specifically look at Jules’ actions, or lack thereof, in a different manner. It becomes clear that Jules was constantly carrying the weight of Rue’s sobriety on her own shoulders, but we were never able to see or understand this due to the nature of Rue’s narration. 

Shortly after Jules claims this, the picture on the screen cuts from Jules’ in her therapist’s (Lauren Weedman) office to a clip of Rue laying on Jules. Almost instantly, the clip then fades to Jules in the car with her mother sleeping in the backseat. The thought and question that Jules poses allows us to learn about Jules’ mother, a character that was absent and rarely talked about during the first season. As we learn that her mother is in a halfway house and has been clean for 90 days throughout the first season, Jules also states that she “was always afraid to talk to Rue about, like, shit that was going on with my mom because she’d think I felt the same way about her that I do about my mom.” This connection and new information about her feelings towards both Rue and her mother recontextualize her and Rue’s relationship, and encourage us to reevaluate how Jules’ acts around Rue when she’s high.

In terms of Jules’ online relationships, she tells her therapist, “I feel like real life is always such a letdown. It’s just, like, easier to talk to people online. You can be more open and honest, and, like, vulnerable.” This statement comes after the “rollercoaster ride” of season 1 between Jules and the show’s villain, Nate (Jacob Elordi), in which Nate blackmailed Jules after she had fallen for him. It is interesting to take this into account, as throughout the special, Jules still talks about Nate so highly. And, while she knows his actions were more than wrong, she says that she’s in love with him still. Further, she even proclaims that “some of the most profound relationships I’ve had have been with people I’ve never met…Maybe that’s like the appeal. The letdown. The fact that, like, none of it’s real. And it’s all a fantasy…It was just pure fucking imagination.” It can be argued that the most profound part of this certain conversation regarding Nate and Jules’ online life in general is that moments before, Jules discusses Rue, and talks about the immense love she has for her. And while she talks about how she felt a burden with Rue, she does not fail to mention how she’s never met anyone like her nor connected with anyone like her. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how all of Jules’ relationships play out in coming episodes.

‘Euphoria’ is available to stream on HBO Max

By Audrey Shaev

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