Last week’s Euphoria episode, “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy,” infamously premiered the series’ much-hyped 15-full-frontal-penises-or-more locker room scene. Yet, this week’s installment of the polarizing HBO teen show, “Made You Look,” may be the far more boundary-pushing hour, at least in terms of male genitalia. “Look” features two separate dick pic segments and the most explicit scene about a micropenis in recent memory. Almost a decade after network sibling Game Of Thrones made a name for itself through sexposition and nude female bodies, Euphoria is single handedly trying to even out the full-frontal playing field.
With so much naked flesh flashing on your screen, one would be excused for missing how it actually plays into the greater mythology of Euphoria. After all, that micropenis isn’t just there to shock you. It’s a major part of Kat Hernandez’s (Barbie Ferreira) evolution as a cam girl and teenage sex pot as she anchors the episode. Even those many, many penis portraits tell you something about Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi). And, as usual, the entire overwhelming episode helps us understand what, exactly, is Euphoria’s chaotic outlook on life, sex, and youth.
So, what are our findings?
Dick Pic 101
Nearly all instances of straight sexuality in Euphoria show girls self-consciously catering to the male gaze. Jules (Hunter Schafer) opens the series with a manipulative trip to adult man Cal Jacobs’ (Eric Dane) motel room. In “Made You Look,” Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) suffers in silence though obviously unfulfilling doggy style sex, more interested in Nate’s much-texted phone than Nate himself. Nate pushing her head into a wall doesn’t help. Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney) stops trying to initiate sex when Chris McKay (Algee Smith) slut shames her for her desires — if he isn’t in the mood, there’s no point even talking about lust.
Yet, Rue’s (Zendaya) dick pic lecture is one of the few times a girls’ opinion about sex and sexuality is completely unfiltered. She isn’t talking about the differences with “terrifying,” “horrifying,” and “acceptable,” penis selfies for one of the boys running around her high school. This is entirely for Jules’ well-being as she intensifies her relationship with Grindr pick-up ShyGuy118 (aka Nate in full catfishing mode). In fact, boys barely even appear in the scene, save for their disembodied members.
If you’re just getting used to men sending you photos of their junk, Rue’s speech gives you some genuinely great pointers. If you can spot a medieval sword in the background — get the hell out of that chat. If dirty fingers are on full display approach with utmost caution (because no one needs a UTI). For a show as frighteningly nihilistic as Euphoria, this is the kind of messy-but-fun content it actually needs.
If only it wasn’t centered around Jules’ texts from Nate, a boy who just last week revealed he is capable of near-unthinkable brutality and entered this series threatening Jules life. Jules may not know it, but she is actually falling for a predator. And, that impressive penis picture she received from him may not even be authentic (it appears he sent her one of the roughly 24 random ones Maddy found saved on his phone). Please remember not to ship these two.
The Micropenis Scene
If any moment in “Made You Look” is engineered for Twitter controversy, it’s the one involving @Johnny_Unite_USA (Jeff Pope), a man with a micropenis and a humiliation fetish. Is Euphoria using said micropenis for shock value? Definitely. However we shouldn’t shame @Johnny_Unite_USA for his kinks and anatomy. The man likes what he likes and is willing to pay women big money for it, all while they remain in the comfort and safety of their homes.
The far bigger issue here is that Johnny is furiously masturbating in front of a 16-year-old girl — burgeoning cam performer Kat. She is wearing a cat mask, so he has no idea how old she is, but that won’t matter if the law ever finds out about these sessions. A federal prosector won’t care that Johnny had no idea his digital sex mistress was a minor. Since the possibility of Kat’s parents learning about her new venture is a constant threat, would should expect this Chekov’s Bitcoin to go off eventually.
Then there is the matter of how Kat came into her new side hustle. As we learned last week, she realized her sexuality was profitable after the McKay twins (Tyler and Tristian Timmons) and Wes (Nolan Batement) leaked her sex tape without her consent. It is only through that violation of her privacy and, now, the approval of strange men on the internet, that Kat is able to embrace her sexuality.
It’s great to see Kat shedding the vestiges of body shame, but it would be even better if she didn’t need an adult man begging for videos her feet to get there.
Euphoria is a show enamored with the horror of being young at one of America’s most stressful, apocalyptic-seeming times. Because of this attitude, it often feels flippant about the pain its characters experience. It doesn’t make that mistake with the ending of “Made You Look,” when Rue appears at drug dealer Fez’s home (Angus Cloud), desperate for oxycontin. The first time these events occurred, in prior episode “Stuntin,’” Fez let her in. Rue was forced to lick fentanyl off of a knife by a dangerous drug dealer peddling thinly veiled sexual assault threats.
So, this week, Fez refuses to open the door for Rue. He has no idea she spent the last week watching Jules fall in love with a stranger over the phone, and they got into a fight about it. Or, that during their reconciliation, Rue kissed Jules, bringing episodes of an increasingly clear crush to a head. He definitely doesn’t know that Rue ran out of Jules’ room before either of them could deal with the kiss. All Fez knows, as he tells Rue, is that he can’t help her kill herself. That means no drugs, possibly forever.
What follows is some of Zendaya’s best acting to date. She oscillates between pointed anger and pure shock before finally crumbling into a teary mess. Rue blames Fez for ruining her life, and she claws at his door between sobs. It’s the kind of performance that goes into someone’s Emmy reel (this episode won’t be eligible until the 2020 race). Or, until then, the Golden Globes.
Screaming, illicit behaviour, and a breakout showing from an underrated performer? This has the Hollywood Foreign Press Association written all over it.