“Euphoria" is HBO’s next big drama and we are obsessed with everything about it. The drama stars Zendaya as Rue, a 17-year-old recovering drug addict, Alexa Demie as Maddy the fiercely defiant popular girl, Barbie Ferreira as Kat the virgin turned dominatrix, Jacob Elordi as Nate the violent jock, and Hunter Schafer as Jules the new girl.
From the complicated storylines to the characters, to the makeup, everything about the show is captivating. “Euphoria" is uniquely capable of pulling viewers into complex storylines that make us fall in love with criminals and analyze toxic relationships, all while feeling like we’re on a gnarly bender. It’s sometimes easy to forget that these characters are just kids as they experience the dark reality of sex, drugs, and high-stakes high school drama.Season one is over, so here’s our high-level synopsis of what went down as to avoid spoilers.
Rue is fresh out of rehab and doesn’t plan to stay sober, but is struggling to immerse herself back into high school. Jules is the trans, mesmerizing-vintage-bike-riding new girl in town. Maddy and Nate are in an on-again-off-again toxic relationship where Nate is often physically abusive. Kat, the “fat friend” of the clique, comes into her sexuality and transforms from a meek virgin to a cam girl dominatrix. Not one character is static in their story and each twist in the plot is as important as the last.
While “Euphoria” is groundbreaking in every imaginable way, the abstract makeup looks are where the real magic happens. Doniella Davy is the woman behind the magic and is responsible for masterminding each character’s signature makeup. Before Davy worked on “Euphoria,” she also worked on award-winning films “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Davy’s vision for “Euphoria” meant that makeup would help define each character’s persona and tell a story of their on-going personal struggles. For “Euphoria” the makeup conveys just as much emotion as the script.
Davy explains her vision in an interview with Paper Magazine, "Makeup represents not only who we are, but also who we feel like being on any given day, who we need to be that day for our own emotional survival, or who we aspire to be," she says. "This notion gives makeup, in general, this fantastical quality. I think you see this a lot in Alexa (Maddy) and Barbie (Kat)'s looks — makeup as protective armor, but also as a way to raise their self-worth and present superhero versions of themselves."
Episode one centers on Rue’s traumas and the first time she meets Jules. Her makeup is wild with glitter tears dripping down her cheeks. The glitter tears become a sort of trademark for her because they are very much representative of her struggles with addiction. She chases a high that calms her racing mind and the glitter is perfect representation for that euphoric feeling she gets.
Doniella Davy describes the glitter-covered faces of Rue and Jules in episode two during her interview with Paper. Davy said, “During the bedroom fort scene in episode two, Jules' glitter-covered face and Rue's glitter tears are meant to be hallucinated versions of both girls, that are imagined by each other. In other words, in the "reality" within the show, Jules didn't actually have glitter on her face, and Rue wasn't really crying gold glitter tears nor did she put gold glitter tears on her face. They were just on drugs.
This is the moment where "drugs are really cool," and my interpretation of this scene is what "Euphoria" literally is. This is the feeling Rue has been waiting for her whole life, so I wanted to have a visual representation of her "Euphoria” before the camera cuts to Rue's overdose.”
Davy’s description is very real, and we find her symbolism reflected in glittering makeup astoundingly beautiful. The thought she put into these “Euphoria” makeup looks makes me appreciate her talent.
In episode three, Jules wears 15 different makeup looks. They are subtly done with variations of white and neon eyeliners and glitter. Davy’s commitment to changing Jules’ makeup at every possible moment is incredible. From her caption, “don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.”
Maddy is the defiant popular girl whose outspoken tendencies sometimes get her into trouble. Her home life is particularly complicated because her mom and dad live in the same house but rarely speak. She’s in a toxic relationship with Nate, the star football player who demonstrates controlling and physically violent behaviors toward her. Maddy just wants to be loved, and no one (including her boyfriend and parents) seems to care.
Doniella Davy’s intent with Maddy’s makeup in episode four was to showcase how strong she tried to be, yet how broken she was behind her mask of makeup.
According to Davy in an interview for WhoWhatWear, Maddy’s carnival look had to be “sharp as a knife to cut through all the bullshit that Nate put Maddy through at the carnival. It also had to match her outfit and be visible in the shadows of the carnival.” We think she achieved this goal to a T, and then some.
Davy conveys her work on Instagram through this caption about Maddy’s makeup.“There is more to Maddy’s makeup than rhinestones and cat-eyes! Underneath her elaborate armor, Maddy feels the pain of crushed childhood dreams and a psychotic and abusive boyfriend. I designed her makeup to have a fantastical element to it because, despite her fierce outer personality, Maddy is a diehard romantic who wants to transcend the ‘loveless marriage’ that is her home life,” says Davy.
Nate’s only sighting wearing one of the iconic “Euphoria” makeup looks was when he appeared in Jule’s nightclub hallucination. Nate’s “Euphoria” makeup look was more simplistic, light smokey eyeshadow with a dusting of metallic glitter.
Kat’s first real gothic look makes its glorious appearance at the school carnival in episode four. Her lids are painted an intense-vibrant green that commands the attention of onlookers. The color is a beautifully convey’s Kat’s transition into a gothic sex kitten.
Jules’ makeup in episode five is meant to spark interest yet not look too put-together. Davy’s intention is to make sure Jules doesn’t come across as too feminine, but also just enough.
Davy says, “I wanted Jules’ looks to challenge beauty and makeup norms, and I wanted to avoid having her look too polished, perfect or feminine. I felt that not using mascara would help achieve that for this look. I didn’t think much about these eyes before I did them - just went for it and never turned back. I thought that approach went with the mood of this scene.”
Davy’s ability to let her imagination illustrate each look makes her a sort of Picasso in the makeup world.
Episode six debuts the Halloween party looks for Maddy, Kat, and Jules. They are all entrancing, so we are going to leave them here. Maddy is meant to be Iris from “Taxi Driver,” Kat is Thana from “Ms. 45,” and Jules is a fantastical version of Claire Danes’ Juliet from “Romeo and Juliet.” All three are impeccably bedazzled and put-together, and let’s not forget to mention that Jules’ coral eyeshadow and golden glitter brows stayed perfectly intact even after her drunken dip in the pool.
Barbie Ferreira’s Kat starts the season as a quiet virgin who isn’t sure of herself. She’s goaded by the McKay twins and a “private school bro-tard” and ends up losing her virginity, a marker she’s been dying to leave behind. As the season progresses, Kat becomes a gothic cam girl named KittenKween because it makes her feel powerful and desired. As Kat herself puts it, “There’s nothing more powerful than a fat girl who doesn’t give a f—k.” I mean, she’s not wrong.
Her makeup goes from mousy to electric in her transformation, but it starts to feel less like her and more like who she wants to be. Davy elaborates on Kat’s transformative experiences in her Paper interview.Davy said, “Kat has the most literal character arc, as we see her go from a self-conscious fan-fiction-writing virgin to a body-confident and hyper-sexualized version of herself. She tries everything from classic red lip gloss and smokey eyes to black lipliner and glittery upside-down crosses. Kat's glam is about challenging all things precious and pretty and redefining herself as the badass, unapologetic girl that she aims to be. With her slightly more delicate looks in episode seven and eight, I wanted to remind the audience that although she's been repping KittenKween on the outside, she is still the vulnerable and sweet Kat on the inside.”
While Jules is off visiting her old friend Anna, she takes drugs and hallucinates Nate making an appearance. His face is covered in luminescent glitter and Jules wears bright pink mascara. Jules’ anger is apparent in the scene and Nate’s glitter, while a figment of Jules’ imagination, brings to life the piece of him she so wished was real. The scene is devastating and the glowing makeup is a welcome addition.
Maddy feels bound by her relationship with Nate. Kat has had enough of her complaining and not being willing to stand up for herself, and Maddy just wants to be heard. The chain eyeliner bears a lot of significance for Maddy and none of it is positive.
Episode eight centers on the winter formal dance and these “Euphoria” makeup looks are especially entrancing. Rue’s glistening red eyelids are gorgeous, and Kat’s neon red eyeliner gives a softer vibe to her gothic look, which feels much more authentic to Kat. Maddy’s smoky blue eyeshadow makes her eyes glow and Jules’ red lids contrast her platinum-blonde hair and dark bangs extensions.
Rue explains the allure of Davy’s makeup not in so many words, but it makes a lot of sense if you take it out of context.“I promise you. If I could be a different person, I would. Not because I want it, but because they do. But here's the thing. One day, I just showed up without a map or a compass, and at some point, you have to make a choice... about who you are and what you want. And therein lies the catch.”
I’m looking forward to more “Euphoria” makeup looks, exploring how they tell stories and the ways they accompany Rue’s narration.