'Euphoria' overshadowed Cassie's pregnancy with Rue's possible bipolar disorder and for good reason

When Rue starts exhibiting the symptoms of mania and depression with extreme highs and lows, we also see the side of the disorder where it is misunderstood as having a rough time.


                            'Euphoria' overshadowed Cassie's pregnancy with Rue's possible bipolar disorder and for good reason

This week's episode of 'Euphoria' was supposed to be the big Cassie revelation. Following suit of the previous episodes where each one focused on one particular character's backstory, episode 7 titled 'The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed' was supposed to shed light on why Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) is the way she is. We were supposed to explore the incidents or trauma from her past that led to this state where she is constantly craving for love and affection from each man she remotely likes. But the actual episode turned out to be a major shift in focus as we found out more about Rue's (Zendaya) depression and possible signs of bipolar disorder. We are not complaining though because if Cassie's backstory had to be overshadowed by something, 'Euphoria' couldn't have gone ahead with a better topic than a unique and authentic portrayal of how bipolar disorder can often kick in alongside depression and anxiety, as we see through Rue.

The biggest plus point about how Rue's depression and instances of a possible bipolar disorder are shown in 'Euphoria' is the non-sensationalized factor of it. In a sea of sensationalized portrayal of violent, manic bipolar patients, Rue's comes off as striking because of how thoughtful and accurate it is. Almost as if it is Euphoria's own personal attempt at deconstructing the pop-culture painted image of the mental illness that we have ingrained in our mind. 

Zendaya (who plays the role of Rue) in a still for HBO's latest teen drama 'Euphoria' (HBO)

Reports say that people ailing from the disorder primarily shift between extreme mood changes that can last days, or up to a year. The happier moods are called manic episodes while the sad ones are labeled as depressive episodes. The National Institute of Mental Health remarks that bipolar disorder can arise in early teenage to adulthood, specifically in teens who suffer from diagnosed depression, anxiety disorders, and ADHD. In 'Euphoria' Rue is the spitting image of the trifecta, and not only that but also follows the trajectory of bipolar not being evident in the patient right from the onset.

When Rue starts exhibiting the symptoms of mania and depression with extreme highs and lows, we also see the side of the disorder where it is misunderstood as having a not so great time. In the latest episode 7, we see Rue and her childhood friend Lexi (Maude Apatow) dress up as Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt from the hit film 'Se7en', where the two actors played detectives, investigating a sinister serial killer. But as Rue's mania starts kicking in, we see her making extremely reckless choices like chain-smoking and constantly staying over-caffeinated. In her pursuit to dig to the bottom of the barrel of misery that she believes Nate has caused Jules, she doesn't hesitate from calling Lexi up past 2 am and ranting about her elaborate theory. Neither does she shy away from explaining it to her other confidante, her drug dealer Fezco (Angus Cloud) while he is busy giving his senile grandmother a sponge bath.



 

Sure, there is the typical comic element as the whole scene plays out, which was a much-needed relief for the episode. But that was purely to introduce us to the cluelessness most people around bipolar patients go through when these symptoms start showing. Both Lexi and Fezco, despite being so close to Rue, aren't able to spot the fact that her hyper mania could actually be stemming from a possible bipolar disorder and not her obsession with Jules and paying Nate back. But at the same time, when her depressive episodes kick in, 'Euphoria' doesn't resort to classic pop-culture tropes of violence and aggression as an outburst. Instead, it shows her spending her entire day in bed and considering getting up to urinate a burden. All she wants to do is binge watch 'Love Island' and brood about why Jules isn't texting her back. 

The biggest highlight of Rue's possible onset of bipolar is how she isn't portrayed as this volatile volcano waiting to explode any moment. Her relationship with Jules might be tumultuous in that manner, but not her individual self as a bipolar patient. Rue's disorder doesn't get reduced to a quirky caricature that is supposed to make her look like a clown. Her mania makes her focus on saving Jules from Nate, while her depression makes her not pee for over 24 hours, leading to severe kidney pain. The subtlety in its portrayal is what makes everything so unique and realistic, and we are definitely not complaining that the Cassie episode was overshadowed by it.

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