People have been talking about Euphoria non-stop since it premiered on HBO last June. The series — which stars Zendaya as 17-year-old recovering drug addict Rue and Jacob Elordi as high school jock Nate — offers an unfiltered look at what life is like for teens in America. But despite getting flack for the show’s explicit content, the series should be celebrated for its array of diverse characters — something Elordi opened up about recently in an interview with GQ Australia.
Along with Zendaya and Elordi, the series stars Hunter Schafer, who, in addition to being trans herself, plays trans girl Jules Vaughan on the show. “It’s a no-brainer, right?” Elordi told GQ of casting a trans actor in a trans role — especially since trans actors often struggle to get cast in cisgender roles. “If you want honesty and truth and you want to portray people properly. And you have incredible actors out there — it’s the way that it should always be done.”
Elordi also elaborated on why representation is so important, not just for the actors involved in bringing the show to life, but for the at-home viewers as well. “It is really nice that as a result of your work, maybe some kids can watch that show and feel like they’re a little bit more at home, that there’s people like them,” he said. “That’s really important because I think that when I was a teenager I would have been looking for the same kind of thing, if I could relate to a character.”
For teens, that’s exactly what Euphoria is: Relatable. The series doesn’t shy away from issues that many young people face on daily basis, from sexuality and gender to substance abuse, mental illness, and more. And for Elordi, being part of a show that doesn’t sweep issues under the rug is exactly what he’s always wanted to do. “I wanted to make things like Euphoria before I even came to Hollywood, when I was still in high school,” he said. “… I knew the calibre of work that I wanted to do and I’m just lucky that I’ve been able to step up and do it so early on.”
As for the backlash the series received for being too graphic, Elordi doesn’t pay it much attention. “I thought that was so silly,” he said of the negative response to a highly buzzed about scene featuring 30 penises in a locker room. “But that’s the way it’s always going to go with this stuff.” And he’s right. Instead of blasting the show for foul language, nudity, and “graphic sexual activity,” critics should instead praise it for doing what other shows aren’t: showcasing diverse characters across race, gender, and sexuality.