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Series / Euphoria

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Euphoria is a HBO series starring Zendaya. Created and written by Sam Levinson (known for Assassination Nation among other works), it is a loose remake of an Israeli television series of the same name, made with assistance from production companies including A24.

Born in the wake of September 11, 2001, teenager Rue Bennett (Zendaya) has spent the better part of her life chasing after a complete and total absence of feeling and ended up in rehab for her troubles. Having returned home, she now has to deal with her wary mother and friends who are alternately worried about her and incredulous that she really intends to stay clean.

When she goes back to high school, Rue enters an environment of people with varying identity-based insecurities stemming from traumatic pasts. As she tries to keep her head above water, she navigates a world ruled as much by vengeance and deceit as it is love and passion, making friends and enemies along the way, and learns the disturbing lengths some will go to hide their own issues or expose those of others.


While its graphic content was not without controversy, the mass critical and rating success of Euphoria's first season allowed for a second season to be renewed midway through its airing. While production was slated to start in Q2 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused it to be suspended indefinitely, shifting future plans for the series.

Prospective murmurs from both HBO and the series' cast and crew culminated in the production of two hour-long specials, both produced under pandemic guidelines, that bridge the gap between seasons. The first ("Trouble Don't Last Always") focused on Rue and had a TV premiere on December 6, 2020, while the second ("Fuck Anyone Who's Not a Sea Blob") centered around Jules and had a TV premiere on January 24, 2021; both episodes were released several days before these dates exclusively on HBO Max.


Production for season 2 commenced in March 2021; the plan is for new episodes to be released before the end of the year.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abortion Fallout Drama: Cassie gets an abortion, which isn't portrayed as bad in itself, but she clearly had some mixed feelings about having it, as McKay had pressured her into doing this.
  • Absentee Actor: The Christmas special, due to its Bottle Episode format, features only Rue, Ali, and (briefly) Jules. Similarly, the second special focuses on Jules' therapy session, with Rue appearing in flashbacks and the conclusion of the episode and Nate as "Tyler".
  • Addiction Displacement: Implied. Rue compares Jules to fentanyl on numerous occasions.
  • Adults Are Useless: One thing most of the main cast has in common is that their parents have all failed them in various ways, usually through either causing their mental hang-ups directly from childhood trauma or just barely keeping track of what they're up to. Nate's dad Cal, for example, has left his son with various misogynistic ideals and explosive anger issues as a result of his harsh parenting in childhood. Meanwhile, Jules' dad means well but is probably a bit too lenient with her, paying little mind to her late-night journeys out of the house or her obvious changes in behavior throughout the show. Rue's parents are a weird and heartbreaking subversion; both of them are responsible and kind, but her father died when she was young and her mother was too busy working herself to the bone to keep her family off the street to keep an eye on her.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Rue's mom and Jules' dad both have to worry about their respective daughters' self-destructive behavior. For Leslie, it's especially worrying, because Rue already overdosed once.
    • In "Shook Ones, Pt. II", Rue loses track of Gia at the carnival, and when she finds her, Gia is smoking weed with McKay’s younger twin brothers.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Mouse simply won't take "no" for an answer when offering Rue fentanyl. Justified as she's already a drug user, and he wants to make a sale (she either gives him the money or sex). Fezco thankfully rescues her by paying for it.
  • Aimlessly Seeking Happiness: This is entirely the point of the series as Rue, Jules, Cassie, Maddy, and Kat all seek out some way to get enough pleasure to distract them from problems in their lives (regardless of whether or not their habits are healthy or safe). For Rue, it's her drug addiction and later her relationship with Jules; for Jules, it's random hookups with men; for Cassie, receiving love from her boyfriend McKay; for Maddy, it's being an elegant and wealthy woman through Nate's family; and for Kat, it's being a dominatrix camgirl.
  • Alcoholic Parent:
    • Maddy's dad is supposedly "between jobs," but he spends much of his time passed out drunk.
    • Lexi and Cassie's mom is a shameless lush.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: Averted. Though non-straight characters (such as Rue, Jules and Cal) are shown as sexually active, so are most of the characters on the show. And Jules seems to have far more straight sex than gay sex.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Everyone has their moments, but Rue and Jules have most of these scenes when they're wandering through school isolated by depression and secrets.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • Rue has confirmed OCD, ADD, and anxiety diagnosed by a psychiatrist as a child. That same psychiatrist tells Rue's parents that she's not sure if Rue has a bipolar disorder because she was too young to tell. In "The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed", she speculates this herself, and her manic phases are pointed out by Lexi and Fez.
    • Throughout the series, Rue mentions feeling depressed and feeling numb, implying she may also have some form of depression. By "And Salt the Earth Behind You" she's been diagnosed officially and given Lexapro to treat it.
    • Jules was committed to a juvenile ward showing signs of severe anxiety, dysphoria, and self-harm, while the exact diagnosis is not mentioned. It's also implied that her mother had some sort of mental illness of her own (in addition to being a drug addict).
  • Ambiguously Gay: Lexi is one of the few female characters in the series with no male love interest, and her mom offhandedly makes reference to her "little girlfriends." There are also some hints that she might have a crush on Rue.
  • Am I Just a Toy to You?: Played with. McKay does seem to like Cassie, but whether or not he actually loves her is pretty questionable. She does love him (and loves everyone she's ever dated) and thinks they're in a relationship, but he denies it in front of Nate. She's hurt and demands to know why he said it.
  • Badass Adorable: Jules isn't one to be messed with, but she's also a down-to-earth Nice Girl with only the best intentions at heart.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: While Jules and Maddy get bruises from encounters with Cal and Nate, respectively, they're easily covered up. Rue also doesn't look particularly bad when she has a drug-induced breakdown.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me:
    • One of the things Cassie likes about McKay is that he doesn't only value her sex appeal.
    • Kat chose her first boyfriend primarily because he didn't care what others thought about him or his attraction to her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jules is a sweet and friendly girl, but she goes absolutely ballistic when Nate threatens her in the first episode.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Kat is portrayed getting a lot of male attention due to her confidence after she's accepted her own figure and starts regarding herself this way.
    "There is nothing more powerful than a fat girl who doesn't give a fuck."
  • Big Damn Kiss:
    • Jules and Rue finally share a kiss at the end of "Shook Ones, Pt. II".
    • Kat and Ethan share one in “And Salt the Earth Behind You”.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Implied when Kat's jaw drops at the sight of Luke's package, but ultimately subverted when she admits she didn't have an orgasm, and the whole situation just strengthens her argument that men are pathetic.
  • Bigot with a Crush: Played for Horror, where Nate Jacobs, who has extremely fucked-up ideas about how women should look and behave, becomes obsessed with trans girl Jules, who he knows would not meet his exacting standards, and sets about trying to force her to "reform" under threat of having her arrested for underage sexting.
  • Big Sister Instinct:
    • After seeing Troy getting a bit too friendly with Gia, Rue and Lexi haul him aside and threaten to sic some very mean guys on him if he tries to feel up Gia.
    • Throughout "The Next Episode", Lexi runs interference to prevent McKay from finding out that Cassie's with another guy.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Trans girl Jules is pursued by Jerk Jock Nate (although she doesn't know it's him at first, thanks to the Internet), and female best friend Rue. Since her transition, Jules feels the need to sleep with random men from the Internet to feel validated, which Nate (in his persona of "shyguy"), gives her. However, Jules didn't know that Nate was catfishing her because she had sex with his dad. Rue, meanwhile, genuinely and near-unquestioningly adores Jules, but also depends on her for her sobriety, which leads to Jules meeting Nate in person and being blackmailed by him. Nate's obsession represents Jules' desire to be comfortable with her gender and her need to keep her secrets, while Rue provides Jules with genuine love, but can also fall into being manipulative by needing Jules too much, so Jules feels suffocated by providing Rue with stability.
  • Blackmail: It's revealed that Nate's cyber relationship with Jules was really for this, so he could get nude photos of her that legally count as child porn since she's underage and so she wouldn’t rat out his father, Cal for having sex with a minor. He later uses the blackmail to get Jules to give testimony "clearing" him of his abuse charges.
  • Book Dumb: Rue is shown to be a smart girl, but doesn't particularly care about school or her education.
  • Bottle Episode: The special episodes, one released in December 2020 and the other to be released in January 2021, had to be produced under COVID-19 guidelines, and as a result use significantly fewer locations and smaller groups of main characters.
  • Break the Cutie: Gia's been through a lot of things for a thirteen-year-old girl. Lampshaded by Ali, who seems to partially blame Rue for what her sister's had to deal with.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Kat's relationship and break up with Daniel was a big part of her life, as he was her first love, and their breakup was such a blow to her self-esteem that it made her reevaluate her life. When she encounters him later, however, it's revealed that he doesn't even remember any of it.
  • Catfishing: Jules is catfished by classmate Nate after the latter finds a video of Jules having sex with his dad. He poses as "Tyler" and convinces Jules to send him topless photos of her, which he initially intends to use in order to blackmail her into unspecified "good behavior". After he gets arrested for abusing his girlfriend, he uses the photos to blackmail Jules into implicating someone else in the abuse so that he can beat the rap.
  • Christmas Episode: Both of the special episodes center around select characters during the holidays; the first follows Rue and Ali on the night of Christmas Eve, and the second reportedly focuses on Jules.
  • Closet Key: Jules for Rue, who never really enjoyed any previous relations she had with boys but fell hard for Jules. The second special episode "Fuck Anyone Who's Not a Sea Blob" reveals that this goes both ways as Jules tells her therapist that Rue was the first girl she ever fell for and she doesn't want to ruin it.
  • Cool Car:
    • Maddy's Chevrolet Impala SS qualifies.
    • There's probably no choice more fitting for Nate than his Ram 1500. Big, conventionally masculine, and probably compensatory. His dad's F150 probably falls under the same attributes, though his job in construction is probably enough of an explanation.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • Johnny United, the guy online who pays Kat to perform privately, starts masturbating at her mocking, as it turns him on.
    • There's a disturbing example in the flashback when Jules is sent to the psych ward, where a man masturbates aggressively on seeing the female doctor with her (he's placed in isolation, or "the quiet room" for this).
    • At the beginning of "'03 Bonnie and Clyde", Rue masturbates while fantasizing about Jules.
    • In "And Salt the Earth Behind You," Nate does this after failing to have sex with Maddy.
  • Daydream Surprise: "Trouble Don't Last Always" opens with Rue with Jules in an apartment happily together. Any hopes for the audience that they got back together are dashed, as it's shown that Rue is imagining this as she gets high.
  • Death by Origin Story: Rue and Gia's dad died sometime prior to the start of the series, and was the catalyst for Rue's addiction, as she started taking his leftover painkillers as a way of numbing her grief.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Cal is an, ahem, straight example, as he has sex with both men and women who look very young, while being married to a woman.
  • Destructive Romance:
    • Maddy and Nate are agonizingly unhealthy. Nate is a poster-boy for toxic masculinity, belittling Maddy, and physically attacks her at points. Maddy is unable to separate herself from him and frequently goes back, but also won't accept being submissive to him and frequently antagonizes him.
    • It's implied Rue and Jules are headed this way, as Jules makes herself into Rue's emotional crutch, taking far, far too much on herself. Indeed, at the end of the first season, they separate.
    • Jules and Cal were this, though it's arguable how much of a "romance" it was.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rue's dad died of cancer in years past.
  • Domestic Abuse: Nate strangles his girlfriend Maddy. Despite her trying to cover this up later, and vehemently not wanting to press charges, this is quickly discovered. He gets arrested, suspended, cut from the football team and the students are made to watch a film about abuse. Maddy still insists he loves her no matter what and meets with him at a motel when he calls.
  • Drugs Are Good: Zigzagged. Rue says "drugs are kinda awesome" before admitting this is before the negative effects it has on your appearance, family, etc.
    "It's actually a very narrow window of cool."
  • Everyone Has Lots of Sex: Kat being a virgin at 16 is treated as an abnormality, especially by Jules who tells her "Bitch this isn't the 80's, you need to catch a dick!" Characters ask each other what their "number" is and are surprised when it's either low or nonexistent, and many of the main characters participate in casual or anonymous sex.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Subverted. The third episode shows Jules texting a catfishing Nate and quickly falling in love with him, though Nate is, of course, putting on an act... Though the fact that he does seem to enjoy texting her in some way makes it more complicated.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Johnny United, a quite obese man with a micropenis who has paid Kat to mock him as he masturbates and to be his financial dominatrix.
    • Also Jules' relationship with Cal. She is beautiful, but the relationship as a whole is very disturbing.
    • Sex scenes between Maddy and Nate. They're both very attractive people, but their relationship is very toxic and disturbing, given Nate's verbal, emotional, and physical abuse of her.
  • Fantasy Forbidding Mother: The only thing Maddy was ever passionate about was the child pageantry circuit, and her mother pulled her out of it after hearing about a pageant director being arrested for child molestation. Maddy has never forgiven her mom for it, and thus when her mother presses charges against Nate, she thinks her mom's just trying to ruin her life again.
  • Fille Fatale: Jules, Maddy, and Kat are young, attractive women who have had relations with adult males (or rather cam sessions, in Kat's case) but merely use this role as an image they put on, and the girls are deeply unhappy and trying to find happiness wherever they can. Cassie received this treatment from her parents' friends and it has affected her.
  • For Your Own Good: Fezco cuts off Rue's access to drugs after her fentanyl misadventure, being justifiably afraid that if she keeps doing drugs, she'll overdose again. Rue is not exactly grateful for this at the time. She does later thank him, however.
  • Frame-Up: Nate has Tyler framed by coercing him into falsely confessing he assaulted Maddy, and blackmailing Jules into claiming she witnessed it.
  • Gainax Ending: Season 1 ends with Rue snorting a line of something, immediately going into a musical number with dancers and a marching band, and throwing herself off a hill made of said background dancers. It immediately cuts to black and an ominous voice says "Until then...".
  • Gay Cruising: Cal Jacobs' compulsive cruising habit sets off the events of the first season, as one of his sexual partners happens to be trans girl Jules Vaughn, who happens to go to the same school as Cal's son Nate. When Nate finds out that Jules slept with his dad, he becomes obsessed with her and stalks her. In Cal's case this is bisexual cruising, since picks up a huge number of young men and women to have sex with in motels.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Rue gets a tattoo on the inside of her mouth, Jules tells her that she's not going to get one. Cue the next shot with her getting one.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • In "Made You Look", Rue gets very jealous when Jules talks about her new male crush. It doesn't help that Jules enlists Rue to take topless pictures of her in her underwear to send to "Tyler".
    • In "Shook Ones, Part II", Lexi does not look too thrilled when Gia tells her that she thinks Rue is in love with Jules.
  • Halloween Episode: "The Next Episode."
  • Harmful to Minors: 13-year-old Gia finding her sister after the latter overdosed. Also, in a flashback, 11-year-old Nate finding his father's videos.
  • Hollywood Beauty Standards: All of the main characters are unusually good looking, even more so than most shows aimed at young people.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Kat — who's a beautiful girl by any standard — spent a lot of her life thinking her looks were subpar because her childhood sweetheart dumped her for gaining weight, and thus she assumed that the fault was with her rather than her ex (who's since become a jerkass.) Her main character arc is gaining self-confidence over the course of the show.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode (except the pilot and last two) of the first season is named after popular rap songs from the '90s and 2000s.
  • Informed Attractiveness: It's implied that Lexi is the "less pretty sister," as opposed to popular blonde Cassie, while both of the characters are played by extraordinarily beautiful actresses.
  • Initiation Ceremony: "The Next Episode" has McKay at the receiving end of a hazing ritual that has frat members hold him face-down to the floor and call him "McGay" several times, just as he is about to have sex with Cassie. It falls into the "humiliating" aspect of the trope.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • In "Made You Look", Jules doesn't realize that Rue has a crush on her and thus doesn't realize how much it hurts Rue when she asks her to take racy pictures to send to "Tyler." On the other end of things, Rue doesn't realize how much it hurts Jules when she casts aspersions on "Tyler." It's one of the few times Rue and Jules argue.
    • One episode had Cassie worried over whether she was pregnant and she asks Lexi, looking at her abdomen sticking out if she looks okay a few times, and Lexi gets angry and tells her not to rub in her status as the sister who receives more attention for her looks in her face.
  • Jerk Jock: Nate is a football star with a very twisted way of treating those around him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Nate Jacobs shows very few redeeming qualities throughout the entire first season.
  • Jobless Parent Drama: Maddy's father can't find a job, which causes a great deal of friction between them and leads to Maddy clinging onto her abusive but wealthy boyfriend Nate.
  • Lady in Red: Kat sometimes wears red during her camming sessions.
  • Lap Pillow: Rue ends up curled up in Jules's lap in the second episode after getting high on fentanyl.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: When Rue and Jules get together, Rue centers herself around her new girlfriend, glowingly indicating she can stop drug use because "she's met someone"... but at the cost of making herself rather codependent on Jules. It is telling that when Jules leaves L.A. at the end of the season that Rue does drugs again after being several months clean.
  • Long Title: Season 1's penultimate episode "The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed."
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: The whole theme of the show is that the teenage protagonists are deeply unhappy and traumatized kids looking for happiness through sex, drugs, and relationships only to find them wanting.
  • Love at First Sight: A platonic version that swiftly turns romantic between Rue and Jules. It only takes one sleepover for Jules and Rue to fall into a very intense friendship.
  • Madonna–Whore Complex: In-Universe. The adolescent characters often label girls as either "sluts" or "prudes."
  • Male Frontal Nudity: There are many scenes where men (or teen boys) are naked, namely one infamous supercut of genitalia in the pilot. They are almost never played for fanservice.
  • The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: In "Trouble Don't Last Always," Ali complains that advertisers and businesses have weaponized "revolutions" to sell things, which he thinks stops actual change or at least controls the impact. He relates Nike promoting a sign reading "Our people matter" (about black people) while still charging a bundle for sneakers, which costs them nothing, looks good, and lets them still charge the same huge price (he notes they were likely made by slaves or near enough in China too).
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Rue is pretty tomboyish, compared with Jules's highly feminine attire and looks.
  • Masochism Tango: Nate and Maddy's relationship, particularly underlined as she continues insisting that he loves her no matter what.
  • Misery Poker: The conversation between Rue and Ali in "Trouble Don't Last Always" enters this territory a few times. Although Rue and Ali are talking about the misery they caused their loved ones due to drug use.
  • Missing Mom: Jules' mom Amy, implied to be a drug addict, is notably missing during her teen years. Rue remarks that something big must have gone down since Jules' father has full custody of her, seeing that men rarely get full custody of the child. The second special reveals that Amy is an alcoholic who relapses after Jules rejected her.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Rue and Gia are biracial. Their dad is white and their mom is black.
  • Morton's Fork: In the Season 1 finale, Rue chooses not to run away with Jules to the city out of fear of what her mother and sister will think and because she thinks it's an unhealthy choice for her recovery from addiction. This immediately leads to Rue relapsing into drug use anyway out of pain from being separated from Jules.
  • Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls: Kat's written a lot of fanfics on Tumblr, most of them explicit and NSFW.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Obliterated. "Made You Look" not only namedrops Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles when Kat writes about Harry giving Louis a blowjob before a concert, but the story is then fully animated with anime character likenesses of them both.
  • One-Hour Work Week: As typical of teen dramas, basically no time is spent at school or worrying about academics. Lampshaded when Rue lies to her mother by saying she has homework to do, which Leslie says she knows isn't true.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Miss Marsha, who works at Frank’s, and Nate’s mother Marsha Jacobs.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Though some characters like Kat (Katherine), Maddy (Madeleine), and Nate (Nathaniel) are also occasionally called by their full names, many with names associated as with being nicknames (Jules, Cassie, and Lexi) are not.
    • Christopher McKay is referred to by his last name by everyone except adults.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: In "The Next Episode," Rue and Lexi both realize something is wrong with Jules when she gets drunk.
  • Pedo Hunt:
    • In "Stuntin' Like My Daddy," Maddy convinces Nate that she was blacked out when she had sex with Tyler, and Nate, being the violently-overprotective boyfriend that he is, goes and beats the shit out of Tyler, secure in the knowledge that because Tyler is over 21, he won't be able to report Nate without going to jail for statutory rape. Kat also makes Roy delete the video of her and tell people it was someone else after threatening to report it as child porn since she's underage.
    • Two episodes later in "Shook Ones, Pt. II", Nate reveals that he was only courting Jules in order to get her to send him nudes so that he could blackmail her into not reporting his dad for having sex with a minor and filming it by threatening to report her for producing and distributing child pornography.
  • Perspective Flip:
    • Remember Jules falling into the pool drunk at the Halloween party midway through the first season? When told from Jules' point of view (in the second special), it's revealed that her mother Amy — whom she had rejected shortly before —- had relapsed and was hospitalized the day of the party and Jules had left after overhearing this conversation, which in addition to her blackmail by Nate, adds even more depth into her actions on that night.
    • The entire special "Fuck Anyone's Who Not a Sea Blob" is told from Jules' point of view and reveals a lot of her insecurities. One of these notably being her fear that she is the only thing that's keeping Rue sober, which causes a massive weight on her shoulders.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Kat wordlessly abandons Ethan at the carnival after seeing him talk to another girl and assuming that he was flirting with her, when she was really just talking to him about his sister covering a shift. She then continuously pushes him away and throws herself deeper into casual sex to get over it, leaving him hurt and confused.
    • Jules and Rue's relationship falls apart because Rue doesn't explain to Jules that she promised her mother that she would wait before having sex, which causes Jules to fear that her being trans is an issue, while Jules doesn't really ask Rue if she's okay with Jules seeing Anna on the side, causing Rue to fear that Jules will eventually just leave her for Anna.
  • Promotion to Parent: Fezco raises his younger brother Ashtray due to their mother's illness.
  • Properly Paranoid: Fezco keeps a supply of Narcan (an opioid blocker) on hand, just in case.
  • Really Gets Around: After transitioning, Jules began to have sex with a lot of men. Cassie also has this reputation.
  • Romance and Sexuality Separation: Jules doesn't really feel anything for the guys she's had sex with, and possibly the only reason she falls so hard for "Tyler" is that his supposed distance means that they are unlikely to have sex anytime soon, forcing her to develop other kinds of intimacy. On the other end of things, she hugs, kisses, cuddles, and holds hands with Rue frequently, and her ideal living arrangement is one where she and Rue fall asleep together every night, even though she never expected to feel any sexual attraction towards Rue.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Rue and Jules hold hands, cuddle, often fall asleep together and tell each other "I love you". Jules even references Puella Magi Madoka Magica at one point. Episode four, "Shook Ones, Pt. II," sees their relationship finally become a romantic one.
  • Secret Keeper: Nate knows of his father Cal's videos. In the Season 1 finale, it's implied that Maddy knows, too.
  • Secretly-Gay Activity: Rue initially asks to sleep over at Jules' house because she's high and doesn't want her mom to find out. However, after watching Jules undress in front of her, Rue decides to keep contriving reasons to sleep over, because it means getting to snuggle up with a scantily-clad Jules. It eventually becomes an actual explicit relationship between them.
  • Self-Harm: Jules used to cut herself as a coping mechanism over her dysphoria and other issues.
  • Shout-Out:
    Rue: "Fucking Jordan Catalano."
    Ali: You're playing pool with Minnesota Fats.
  • Slash Fic: Kat's written plenty of those. In fact, she was supposedly the one who "started" the Larry Stylinson ship.
  • Slut-Shaming: A frequent topic of discussion on this series.
    • In the first episode, Cassie's nude photos become distributed, and the guys all assume that she's some kind of sex fiend when in reality she's no more sexually active than any of the other girls. This becomes why McKay decides to heed Nate’s advice and become overly aggressive during their first time having sex. Later, it turns McKay against her as he doesn’t want to admit they’re dating because of the reputation she has, and it manages to get worse when she gets high on ecstasy and has a public orgasm on the carousel.
    • Maddy is often subjected to this at the hands of Nate.
    • In the second episode, Kat has to deal with the fallout from footage of her having sex being put online. However, she manages to turn it around and becomes a cam girl.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Levinson's film Assassination Nation, though it takes a (relatively) more realistic view on the subject matter rather than using an ironic take on exploitation cinema.
  • Stepford Smiler: Although McKay appears to be pretty relaxed, he's actually got a lot of pent-up rage inside him. His father taught him to repress it in most cases, but he released it on the football field until he reached college, where he was often benched.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: Season 1 ends with Rue in the center of an extravagant musical number set to her actress Zendaya's remix of "All for Us", complete with a church choir and marching band.
  • Take That!: "Made You Look" takes a rather vicious shot at horny fangirl writers of homoerotic Real-Person Fic with an explicit, fully-animated extended sequence from one of Kat's fanfictions where Harry Styles fucks Louis Tomlinson.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Played with. Even characters like Jules who are ultimately good-hearted have some serious problems, Rue is constantly in some kind of severe pain, and then there are straight-up awful monsters like Nate.
  • Teeny Weenie: Kat gets paid for an online cybersex session by a guy with a very small penis. He likes being mocked for it, oddly enough.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In the Season 1 finale "And Salt the Earth Behind You," Rue's fantasy of what she'd like to do to Nate is shooting him repeatedly in the head. While he's tied to a chair. And on fire.
  • Title Drop:
    • In the Season 1 finale, "And Salt the Earth Behind You," Rue says this to Jules after the latter says she wishes she could just burn the town down.
    • "Trouble Don't Last Always" is derived from a piece of advice given to Rue by Miss Marsha, a waitress at the diner the episode takes place in, who says she got it from her grandmother.
  • Tone Shift: Played for Laughs. At one point, as a manic Rue is roping Lexi into getting to the truth behind Nate, her manic episode plays out as if she's the hyper-attentive lead of a detective show. The film is notably grainier, the colors are warmer, Rue and Lexi inexplicably wear detective-esque outfits at school, Rue replaces her water filter with coffee, and she assembles a String Theory on her floor late at night.
  • Trans Equals Gay: The men whom Jules has been with all make a point of insisting they're completely straight because they appear to fear that this trope is true.
  • Transgender:
    • The series makes no secret of the fact that Jules is a trans girl. One of her very first scenes shows her giving herself a hormone shot.
    • "'03 Bonnie and Clyde" introduces Minako, who is either genderfluid or non-binary.
    • "Trials and Tribulations..." introduces TC, a friend of Jules who is trans and non-binary, played by a non-binary actor.
  • Trans Tribulations: Jules is one of the kindest characters on the show, but because she's a trans girl, she has to deal with crappy paramours and a creep who's blackmailing her.
  • Troubled Teen: Most of the main cast are teens with some very bad problems. Rue is a reckless painkiller addict, Jules Really Gets Around, Cassie is dating a college boy, Kat is running an underage webcam, Maddy is in an abusive relationship and keeps cheating on her extremely possessive boyfriend, and Nate is a ticking time bomb of rage and toxic masculinity.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Teenagers here are encouraged and do drink heavily, do drugs, and have lots of casual sex, including unprotected sex, camming, and with much older partners. Being a virgin is seen as a bad thing. Physical and emotional abuse is rampant, few characters have any responsible guardians to rely on, and almost nobody seems to actually care about school. This is somewhat Justified In-Universe, as every main character focused on has experienced some type of traumatic past and cope with it in unhealthy ways; there are characters without major hang-ups, like Ethan and Lexi, but they're mostly relegated to supporting roles.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: In the pilot, Maddy gets back at Nate by having sex with Tyler in the pool at Nate's own party. Everyone sees and knows exactly what's happening.
  • Unreliable Narrator: By her own admission, Rue is not the most trustworthy recaller of events.
    • In "Trouble Don't Last Always", Rue tells Ali that she and Jules only talked about getting matching lower lip tattoos, but we actually see this happening within the events of Season 1. It is unclear in this case whether she is an unreliable narrator to Ali or to the audience.
  • Villain Has a Point: Nate points out that Fez has little room to take the high ground when he makes his living selling drugs to teenagers, regardless of whether or not he's friends with any of them.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Jules is aghast that Kat is still a virgin, telling her that You Need to Get Laid. Kat also tells Ethan that she won't sleep with him (a virgin) since virgins are too clingy and shy, but it comes off as more of a product of her own insecurities with sex and her desire to push him away due to her feelings for him.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: While the location of the show is never explicitly mentioned, there are some hints here and there that suggest somewhere in California:
    • Palm trees can occasionally be spotted in the background.
    • Car license plates take the likeness of the current Californian plates down to the patterning of the registration. Although the generic slogan "Drive Safely" is used in lieu of a state name, the font between the two is practically identical. In a shot of a police car, "Exempt" plates can be seen.
    • A Los Angeles Metro bus can be spotted early in the first episode.
  • Wild Teen Party: On numerous occasions.

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