'Euphoria' portrays Maddy's love for Nate as the darkest addiction on the show with the couple representing two extremes of toxic traits
While Nate is the textbook definition of male ego and the constant quest to establish his dominance and authority, Maddy's obsession for him transcends beyond his abusive nature
This article contains spoilers for episode six
The most problematic thing about Maddy (Alexa Demie) and Nate's (Jacob Eordi) relationship on 'Euphoria' is not the volatility or the erraticness of it. It is this inherent pattern where, just when you think the relationship couldn't get any worse, they prove you wrong. Nate and Maddy are polar extremes of toxic traits their characters represent: aggressive masculinity and blind love.
While Nate is the textbook definition of male ego and the constant quest to establish his dominance and authority, Maddy's obsession for him transcends beyond his abusive nature. And coming from teens in their final years of high school, not only is this harrowing, but it also highlights that the teen drug, sex, and violence-laden show's darkest addiction is Maddy's love for Nate.
As Nate and Maddy's relationship becomes increasingly tumultuous with each episode, we witness instances of Nate getting violent with her while her commitment to him remains intact — something that indicates a constant cycle of abuse where neither of them is ready to let go. This is explained a lot by the story focusing on Maddy's past, where we find out about her relatively lower-income background and the complicated upbringing that came along with it. Her esthetician mother had been the bread earner, while her drunk father wasted his time on the couch. Maddy's parents had stopped sharing a bed years ago, and that has been Maddy's driving force in life.
As the episode unfolds, we see her treating Nate like an endless summer of passion and romance who will spoil her, pamper her with riches, and care for her in a way neither parties in her parents' marriage could afford to. But as much as she adored Sharon Stone's Ginger in the 1995 film 'Casino' lifestyle, it was the idea of their relationship that she loved the most.
And this is something that allows her to repeatedly bear with being on the receiving end of Nate's frequent and violent bursts of anger. Maddy's love for Nate and the lifestyle he could provide her with has led to such extreme toxic levels that she has made peace with being berated and abused by him. That's right, their toxic addiction is one thing the show didn't warn us about but has beautifully explored on screen.
However, Maddy isn't just a vapid girl looking to be spoiled with riches. She is actually quite clever and manipulative in acquiring what her heart desires. She maintains her appearance in ways Nate would approve of and does risque things that he would get absolutely riled up over.
In episode four we saw her getting berated by Nate for being dressed in an extremely revealing outfit at the carnival, following which she got high on Molly and showed up at the Jacobs' chili stall. She publicly insulted his mother and that led to Nate grabbing her by the arm and dragging her to a trailer behind the carnival. He chokes her with a terrifying grip, tells her they are done, but even in that harrowing moment, Maddy knows how to get to him: she tells him about having seen the d**k pics on his phone.
This causes Nate to do an absolute 180-degree turn and he apologizes, telling her it's complicated but he still loves her. And that is enough to pacify Maddy. She goes home and has an intense breakdown in front of the mirror when she spots the bruises Nate's grasp left on her neck. But as Rue's (Zendaya) voiceover informs us the next episode, Maddy's breakdown wasn't a result of being assaulted; it was purely because she knew no matter what Nate did, she would always love him. And that sickened her.
This only further establishes that Maddy is not just a ditzy person. She is, in fact, very self-aware of the toxicity of their relationship. But just like Rue's dependence on drugs, her drug is Nate. Even when her bruises are spotted by school authorities, leading to an interrogation of Nate, she insists he wasn't the one who hurt her. When she should have just allowed her mother to press the charges, she fights with her to prove Nate's innocence, citing that love isn't always a walk in the park. Nate gets suspended and shunned by the townspeople for a while, but she runs to him whenever he asks her to meet him secretly at motels. In fact, it is Maddy who tells Nate that he needs a plan to get out of the mess they have landed in.
Granted, Maddy has no idea about the constant blackmailing and threatening Nate is putting Jules through, but her devotion is explained by how easily she agrees to frame a college student for assault when Nate suggests the plan to her. For Maddy, more than the riches and the fancy show, it is her idea of Nate being the king and her being his queen that she is addicted to, which is clear by the two of them walking in hand-in-hand to the Halloween party later and making out on the kitchen counter in front of the entire crowd, establishing that they are back to reign.
Maddy's love and devotion for Nate is quite similar to HBO's other successful drama, 'Big Little Lies' where Nicole Kidman's Celeste absolutely adores her husband despite being abused by him, frequently, for at least half a decade. Celeste gets kicked, shoved, punched, and flung across the room but is still reluctant to leave her husband, and continues blaming herself for his accidental death. Just like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports, victims often "want the abuse to end, but not the relationship," and Maddy is the prototype for that. The only thing that makes her addiction darker is how easily she normalizes it even when it sickens her in sporadic bursts.
'Euphoria' airs on Sundays at 10 pm only on HBO.