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A New Perspective Within ‘Euphoria’

Script's Editor Sadie Dean speaks with 'Euphoria' star turned writer Hunter Schafer about how this special episode idea came to be, her writing process with show creator Sam Levinson, tapping into vulnerabilities, and what she hopes mainstream viewers take away after watching this episode.
Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn in Euphoria, HBO

Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn in Euphoria, HBO

Euphoria is a show full of real and raw emotion, change, and turmoil that teenagers and young adults encounter on this journey called life. Needless to say, you need space to reflect after each viewing of an episode, to fully digest an enclave of social issues and messages. This is certainly the case with the special episodes that premiered in January 2021. Both episodes pulled back the curtains on two quintessential characters Rue and Jules, and how they are each coping with breaking their dependency on one another. 

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with writer and star Hunter Schafer, who penned the riveting second episode with Sam Levinson, "Fuck Anyone Who's Not a Sea Blob". This episode is unique within the world of Euphoria, in that we the viewers now get the opportunity to hear Jules' side of the story. The episode unleashes powerful imagery and pulls at the heartstrings, but also leaves you with a deeper appreciation of who Jules has become and her tender journey to now.

Hunter and I speak about how this episode idea came to be, her writing process with show creator Sam Levinson, tapping into vulnerabilities, and what she hopes mainstream viewers take away after watching this special episode.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Sadie: Incredible episode special. What does the title mean and how did you come up with it?

Hunter Schafer: The title “Fuck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob”? I think it's sort of open for interpretation. But as far as how we came up with it, I think we were well into finishing up the drafts of the script by the time we were like, “oh, we need a title for this episode” and we were tossing around ideas and it was like me, Sam and Marcell, and Sam’s assistant in the room, and we were all talking about like what animals we would be if we were creatures. And for a while now I’ve identified with I think there's like a better name for them, but like what I call a sea blob. But like those beautiful little deep-sea creatures that are kind of gelatin Angel looking things. And I think we sort of use those as a metaphor for fluid beings who are always and forever changing or not static. So that's kind of where the sea blob reference came from. But it's like everyone's a sea blob, but also you know, fuck anyone who's not a sea blob. [laughs]

Sadie Dean: [laughs] I love that. This being the first piece that you've written, what was that collaboration and writing process like with Sam? Especially in terms of being so vulnerable on the page with your character Jules?

Hunter: Over the course of season one, Sam basically taught me how to act from the ground up, which was a very, very vulnerable process as far as opening up to him and allowing him to help me navigate my emotions and utilize them for scenes. And that was something that was like a learning process throughout the entire first season. And it’s kind of the same sort of vulnerability that ended up helping us as we moved into writing together, which kind of just happened organically in the sense that we’re in a kind of constant exchange of ideas and music, and visuals. Things that inspire us.

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Sadie: Going into the writing of the episode, and that opening scene in the therapy session, the therapist basically asking, “Where do we start?” that line and the use of imagery in those flashbacks in Jule’s eyes, I think perfectly sums up a therapy session.

Hunter: Yeah.

Sadie: Making that conversation unfold and making it so real, what were you and Sam tapping into to make Jules even more grounded within that episode?

Hunter: I think it was a multitude of things that we were tapping into. From one point of view, we’ve only seen Jules from Rue’s perspective, as far as season one goes. We’ve never really had the space for Jules to tell the story through her own eyes, which I feel like is what this episode was the opportunity for.

It was like a reflection, but from Jules’ perspective and I think it gives us a lot of room to expand upon things that we kind of left purposefully unclear in season one, as far as identity and sexuality, coming of age things that a lot of teenagers move through around that age. There's so much happening in season one, you don't get to really sit with each individual character. That was definitely important, as far as the writing process goes. And then also, in the context of the pandemic too, I think it was as far as mental health goes and sitting with yourself, I feel like all of that energy was sort of channeled into the character piece that the episode became about.

Sadie: Yeah, absolutely. And speaking of the pandemic, having those constraints of writing a show during the pandemic, were you taking into consideration character interaction and set pieces and what you were able to do and can't do? Were there any pros or cons to that process?

Hunter: I mean, there were definitely pros and cons. I think the pros - it became clear in that we got to really, for the first time in this show, just sit with a character in one space in one scene, while we may dip in and out of it, for an entire episode. And stay with one character in one headspace for that entire time, which is not within the formula of season one at all. And that was, of course, the COVID friendly version that we opted for. But also, Sam and I, writing together, have pretty big imaginations and can go on riffs or dreams blitzes that become bigger and bigger and bigger. I think we both really like, visualizing these massive dream sequences, even if it were something as compact as a therapy session where it's only two people because it can become so abstract and artistic. I am curious, what if this episode were to have been made not in a pandemic, what that would have looked like. But, you know, it's kind of unique in that we did have the constraints that were necessary at the time and in what happened happened and I feel pretty happy with it.

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Sadie: Yeah, I think it sits differently having gone through the pandemic and still going through it. You have those quiet moments with yourself that you can pay attention to something as serious as that. With writing, is that something that you've always wanted to do? Was that always in the books for you?

Hunter: That was not really super in the books for me. [laughs] I've journaled for my whole life pretty much and I have a knack for writing things down. But as far as narratives go, and the actual use of words, I think I struggle with it pretty frequently, which is why I prefer imagery. Which is kind of why becoming a writer kind of caught me off guard, but it was also a sort of beautiful process in retraining my brain to use words the same way I tried to use like elements of artwork to make a visual piece or something and trying to find a link between those two. And Sam obviously, also  was an amazing guiding force within that as well, as I have next to no screenwriting experience next to him. He led me through it for sure. But I think with our imaginations and his understanding of how screenwriting works, it ended up unfolding in a way that I hope came across well.

Sadie: I hope you continue to do that. It seems like you had a really great master class there with Sam.

Hunter: For real, yes. [laughs]

Sadie: What is something that you hope the audience from either the younger generations to Gen X takes away from your episode?

Hunter: The general takeaway from the episode, I think in the context of like the show, I think the Jules special episode is kind of cool, because in some ways, it almost turns season one on its head a little bit, in that we realized that Rue might not be the most reliable narrator. In the sense that there are multiple sides to every story. And while we might love multiple characters or multiple elements within those stories, there are several ways to look at it, versus the singular perspective we were coming at it through season one. And also, a takeaway, particularly for audiences, I hope the episode gave more mainstream audiences maybe a bit of a better understanding of what a young trans girl is thinking about, like who she is, looks like, you know, because I know not everyone is exposed to that or surrounded by a community where trans people exist. So, I hope it reaches far out in that sense, and maybe can act as an exposure of one form of transness and hopefully allude to many more to come through the media.

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Sadie: Absolutely. 100%. I hope so, too. Hunter, thank you so much for your time. I look forward to everything you do in the future and I hope you keep putting pen to paper and writing your stories.

Hunter: Thank you so much. Yeah, I appreciate it. 

Watch the first season of the award-winning series and Part Two: Jules now streaming on HBO max. Season two coming soon!

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